Catherine Tyldesley on Corrie exit: 'There'll be no mascara when I go... I am going to cry a lot'
After seven years playing barmaid Eva Price, Catherine Tyldesley is set to quit Corrie. She tells Georgia Humphreys about ‘intense’ final scenes
It's been a tearful time for Catherine Tyldesley lately. Her character on Coronation Street, Eva Price, has faced a heartbreaking few months after her ex-boyfriend, Aidan Connor (played by Shayne Ward), took his own life. And then there's the fact the Manchester-born actress is bidding farewell to the cobbles, with her emotional final scenes due to air next week.
"There's zero point in me wearing mascara or fake tan at my leaving do because I'll be a streaky mess," admits the chirpy mother-of-one, who joined the ITV soap in 2011. "I'm gonna cry a lot."
She adds matter-of-factly: "Corrie has completely changed my life. I can't say I've grown up on the show, but in a way I have - I met my husband while I've been filming here and had my baby.
"I feel I've gone through so much personally alongside the show. It has been home."
In true soap fashion, we can expect Eva's exit scenes, which take place at the inquest into Aidan's death, to be an intense watch.
She turns up to give evidence at the last minute, with daughter Susie (who she had with Aidan) in tow, just as Aidan's dad, Johnny, is beginning to give up hope he will be able to see his granddaughter one more time.
"It brings unity and peace for good with the Connors, in as much she says to them, 'I want Susie to know who her father was, and her family, so you must come and visit me'," suggests Tyldesley (34), who's also starred in BBC drama Lilies. "That's really nice."
As the inquest ends, Eva's sister, Toyah, begs her to stay in Weatherfield, but it seems her mind is already made up and she thinks it's best for everyone if she goes.
With lots of emotional scenes involving her character recently, the response from fans has been huge - particularly following Aidan's death by suicide storyline, with Tyldesley revealing she and Ward have been inundated with messages.
"Obviously we're actors so we refer them to people that can help," she elaborates. "Some of them have been utterly heartbreaking. People right on the edge, 'I tried it last week', that type of thing, and 'This storyline has helped me and I'm going speak to somebody'.
"It's been mind-blowing, but fantastic. Not only have these storylines helped hundreds of people, but they've saved lives. I think that's phenomenal."
It's also made her think more about the mental health of people around her.
"By the time you get to my age, generally people are all affected by suicide in some way," she says.
"We lost a work colleague not long ago. It was a very similar situation (as Aidan's) - there were no signs. Often I think that's the case. He seemed so happy.
"You never know how someone is struggling. I always try to make a point of talking to people. If someone seems a bit quiet, 'You all right?'"
The friendly star adds softly: "It does make you more aware. Sometimes if you're being impatient, or trying to get on with your day, you don't always engage in conversation with people properly. You need to make the effort because you don't know when you're going to see that person again. It's had an impact on everyone."
The toll that acting out emotional scenes takes on the body is notable (another recent storyline saw Eva's baby Susie kidnapped which was difficult for Tyldesley to film).
"It is tiring, because obviously you have to go there to make it believable," she admits.
"Your nervous system doesn't understand that you're only pretending (to cry). You've got to look after yourself and laugh as much as you can in between. Shayne (Ward) was always good for that."
But she's loved the material she's been given to work with lately.
And, with her character having recently become a mum, she's also loved working with the babies who play her daughter, admitting it's made her broody.
"They're gorgeous; they're twins," says the star, who married fitness expert Tom Pitfield in 2016. "They're so chilled and very easy to work with. Tom is like: 'Stop holding babies.'"
But, if there's one part about playing barmaid Eva that Tyldesley definitely won't miss, it's her, erm, interesting style choices.
"Some of the outfits have been completely mental," she exclaims, her eyes wide-eyed as she shakes her head laughing.
"I'm looking forward to saving money on fake tan and nails and remembering what my skin tone looks like. I said to Tom: 'I'm going to be a right minger now. It's all coming off.'"
Coronation Street, ITV, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7.30pm