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'People forget I was a singer'

It's ten years since Kym Marsh joined the cast of Corrie - not bad for a former TV talent show singer who was meant to appear in four episodes

By Susan Griffin

Kym Marsh has a lot to celebrate this year. Not only is the actress turning 40, but 2016 marks her 10th anniversary on Coronation Street. "It's madness - I look at my kids and I think, 'Gosh, Emily was eight when I joined this show'. She used to come into the green room and play dressing up games. Now she's 18 and out partying with her friends!" says Marsh, who's also mum to David (20) and five-year-old Polly (her son Archie died shortly after birth in 2009).

"It's weird, because it's gone so quickly. It doesn't feel like I've been here that long. But at the same time, I seemed to settle in quite quickly."

Only recently, someone tweeted a clip of her very first episode.

"Oh, I was rubbish!" she says, laughing. "I have learned so much from being on this show, about my acting skills, about doing interviews, about everything really. And I'm still learning every day."

She originally only signed up to play Michelle for four episodes, but her brief appearance soon led to a more long-term offer.

"I remember exactly what I was doing when the call came through; I was making spaghetti bolognese in my kitchen in St Albans. That got left and we all went out and celebrated!"

Back then, Marsh was known as a singer following her stint on TV talent show Popstars, where she formed Hear'Say with Suzanne Shaw, Myleene Klass, Noel Sullivan and Danny Foster.

The group went to number one with their first single, Pure And Simple, in early 2001, but just a year later, Marsh decided to leave. Despite some success as a solo artist, she was dropped from her label in 2003.

"It was when all the downloads started. Record companies didn't know how to deal with it at that point and were letting people go left, right and centre," she notes.

"I got the bug for acting again. I loved it when I was younger, but had kind of forgotten it because of singing," reveals Marsh, who was born on Merseyside.

"I did have a lot of doors slammed in my face in the beginning. My agent said to me, 'It will be like this. You'll have to do a couple of things first', which I did. I did Doctors, Holby City and a couple of theatre things, and the opportunity came for this," she says, of eventually landing her part in Corrie.

Then again, she's always been "a determined little thing".

"My mum and dad always said I was like that when I was a baby. I've got that fire in my belly and when someone says I can't, I go, 'I can'. I don't like to be told I can't do something.

"Now when people see me, they forget I'm a singer," she adds - something she regards as a compliment.

Michelle's had a tumultuous time since arriving on the street a decade ago. Most recently, she's been coping with her husband Steve's depression, and attempting to juggle everything while he's been recuperating in Spain.

But her loyalty looks set to be tested when Will, her teenage love, played by Leon Ockenden, rolls up at the Rovers requiring her wedding planning services.

"Michelle is planning a wedding for a high-flying businesswoman, who comes in to tell her that she is leaving to go on business, and she should deal with her fiance," explains Marsh.

"She introduces him to Michelle and they are both like, 'Oh my God!' They don't say how much they know each other at that stage."

The actress admits she was sceptical when she first heard about the storyline. "If you look at Michelle's past, she is very morally correct. Steve's had an affair, which resulted in them splitting and him marrying Becky, but Michelle's never shown any kind of indication that she would do anything like that.

"But, then, when you think about what she has gone through with Steve, and how he treated her before she found out he wasn't well, she supported him and he still treated her badly. She was there for him and then he just went away to Spain and left her to it for six months."

Viewers will see Michelle struggle with her feelings, but the actress insists she doesn't know how it's all going to play out.

"This is a soap and we know that couples hardly ever stay together in soaps. Obviously, I wouldn't want Steve and Michelle to split up permanently."

She's missed Simon Gregson, who plays Steve, "terribly".

"I'm so glad he's back. It's like putting on a comfy pair of slippers," she says - and means it in the literal sense, too.

"Every scene I've done with Leon, I've been dressed in something really uncomfortable - can't sit down properly, have to hold your belly in."

  • Coronation Street, ITV, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 7.30pm

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