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'Being a dad is my sole purpose. Everything else is almost a hobby!' says Coronation Street’s Shayne Ward

Aidan Connor, Sophie Austin
(Image credit: Silve/REX/Shutterstock)

Coronation Street actor and new dad Shayne Ward talks fatherhood, life in Corrie… and the three females in his life!

Aidan Connor is the Corrie love rat right now. But Shayne Ward, who plays him, couldn’t be more different. Yes, he has three females in his life, but they are his partner, former Hollyoaks actress Sophie Austin, their six-month-old daughter, Willow May, and his mum, Philomena.

Over a cuppa, Shayne told Soaplife that becoming a dad has not only totally changed his life, but it’s also made him a better actor.

“I’m able to access my emotions better now I’m a dad,” Shayne said. “When, for example, I’m really knackered after looking after the baby and I then have to come into Corrie to do a sad or intense scene, I feel I do it better because my emotions are nearer the surface. It helps that I’m in that place of tiredness anyway. Also, if I’ve had a really fun morning with Willow and then I’m doing a comedy scene, I’m really in the mood for it.”

It sounds like you’re loving being a dad! “Oh, it’s my sole purpose. Everything else is almost a hobby! I started out as a singer and people could say I was born to sing. But I think I was born to be a dad. Willow May is a beautiful girl. She’s smiley, happy and a breeze to look after. She’s just trying to crawl.”

What’s the best thing about being a first-time dad? “How natural it is. I remember when me and Sophie were first taking the baby home from hospital and we were like, ‘How do we keep her alive?’ A lot of new, first-time parents are like that. But everything came so naturally, even though we thought things would be difficult.”

Have your family helped out? “It’s incredible how instantly everyone rallies around. You do literally have 16 wardrobes full of baby clothes! My mum and Sophie’s mum already had massive boxes full of nappies, wipes and Sudocrem. So it’s like, ‘Oh we don’t need to get anything!’ It’s also just incredible how you feel this instant bond. I now can’t imagine my life without my little girl.”

Would you like more kids? “I always joke and say I’d like seven because I’m one of seven. Sophie and I will be blessed if we have another two or three. That would be great. We’ll see, but obviously it depends on Sophie. She’s an actress and I back her career 100 per cent. Having more kids is further down the line.”

And how’s life in Corrie? “It’s brilliant. The time has gone so quick – it’s nearly two years now and that’s crazy!”

Do you see yourself mainly as an actor or a singer now? “The last gig I did was at the start of April, and I miss singing. Whenever I see shows or go to a gig, it just makes me want to get up there and do something myself – or at least release some songs. Not necessarily an album, but an EP or whatever. I've still got a very good, strong fan-base on the music side. I'm never going to shut the door on it, but…”

But what? “I’m really enjoying the acting side as well. I’m no longer Shayne Ward from X Factor to a lot of people. There’s a whole generation who now watch Corrie who didn’t know who I was in 2005. To them, I’m Aidan Connor from Coronation Street.”

Do you think it’s extra hard for singers going into soaps? “We are instantly pigeon-holed. But you’ve got Lee Ryan absolutely smashing it in EastEnders. Then there’s Duncan James in Hollyoaks - and look how amazing Kym Marsh is. Hopefully I can keep proving people wrong with my acting.”

Coronation Street, ITV