Coronation Street's Gemma Winter, Dolly-Rose Campbell, talks working on the cobbles, knitting, Gemma's outfits, and kebabs!
Award-winning Coronation Street star Dolly-Rose Campbell has talked to Soaplife about working on the cobbles, her character’s ace wardrobe and her love of knitting.
What’s the story?
Coronation Street actress Dolly-Rose Campbell used to enjoy the occasional doner, but that was before her character, Gemma Winter, started working in Dev Alahan’s kebab shop. "I’d never eat a kebab now," she said, as she chatted to Soaplife at Corrie HQ. "I’ve had to eat so many as Gemma. Sometimes they’re a kind of corned beef, but at other times, they’re the real thing. We have a proper kebab spit and it costs £12 for a whole hunk of meat. It’s heated up with a blow torch!" Nom, nom, nom!
Dolly-Rose Campbell’s Soaplife interview
Soaplife: Gemma certainly likes her grub! She’s always scoffing – and talking –at the same time!
Dolly-Rose: “I’ve certainly made a rod for my own back with that! It was originally my idea for her always to be eating something, but now my scripts have instructions for Gemma to tuck in!”
S: Do you have any influence over the outfits Gemma wears?
D-R: “I leave it up to the wardrobe department to choose her clothes. Gemma’s definitely the kind of girl who’d squeezes herself into outfits that are a size too small for her. There are a lot of really low-cut crop tops – that kind of thing… Gemma likes stuff like that.”
S: Have you ever refused to wear an outfit because it was just too outrageous, even for Gemma?
D-R: “Actually, it’s the opposite. There was one time where some clothes were laid out for Gemma, but they were too normal when I tried them on. I went back to Costume and said, ‘I’d wear this in real life – got anything else?’ Gemma looks in the mirror and wants to see Beyoncé, even if nobody else does. She thinks she’s really glamorous.”
S: Is she based on anyone you know?
D-R: “She’s based on a combination of people. But I’m not telling you who they are! I know them – and I still do. None of them recognises themselves, but some people have asked me if she’s modelled on certain people we know!”
S: She likes her make-up, too!
D-R: “Yeah, unlike me. I don’t wear much in real life. I’m rubbish at it. It takes 45 minutes in make-up to get Gemma’s look. She loves her bronzer, and I’m delighted she’s getting into contouring now. I’ve been asking about that for ages and they finally said, ‘Yes’.”
S: Can you see yourself in Gemma?
D-R: “Thankfully not, but her heart is in the right place. I don’t dress like her, I don’t wear much make-up and I don’t eat kebabs. But, like Gemma, I’m a happy person, who looks on the bright side.”
S: You won the British Soap Award this year for Best Comedy Performance. How did that feel?
D-R: “It was probably the most terrified I’ve ever been in my life. I hadn’t prepared a speech and getting on that stage to see everyone who’s on telly looking back at me was quite an experience!”
S: A nice one, though?
D-R: “Yeah, I was really, really chuffed to win the award. It’s lovely to know the viewers are enjoying Gemma as a character.”
S: Has it changed the way you work?
D-R: “Not really, I’ve just carried on working the same way I normally do. I’ve always had a very good work ethic.”
S: Did you watch Corrie before you got the part?
D-R: “Always. I was a big fan – and I still am. Funnily enough, I went on the Coronation Street tour the week before I was asked to audition for the part of Gemma. I remember a friend saying, ‘Imagine if you got a job on Corrie!’ and I was like, ‘That’ll never happen.’ Initially, I was supposed to be in the soap for just six episodes, but here I am, three years later! It’s amazing.”
S: It sounds like you still have a few ‘pinch me’ moments.
D-R: “Yes, I do, especially when I’m on the set with some of the olde characters. I’ll be watching them and it will suddenly hit me that I’m part of this show. This is my job! It really is a dream come true.”
S: What’s it like working so closely with a Coronation Street legend like Rita actress Barbara Knox?
D-R: “It’s amazing and it’s so great for a young actress like me to work with someone like Barbara. We get on very well, too.”
S: What do you like doing when you’re not working?
D-R: “Walking my Yorkshire terrier, cooking, sewing and knitting. I love knitting – it’s relaxing. I’ve got a scarf on the go at the moment, but I haven’t knitted anything for the cast yet. I enjoy very un-Gemma-like pastimes, and I’m a bit of an old biddy on the inside. Gemma likes eating kebabs and getting drunk, but I’m more like, ‘Let’s have a cup of tea and do some knitting!’”
Coronation Street, ITV
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Rachel is a soaps and TV writer for WhatToWatch.com, soaps podcaster and resident soap expert for UK TV listings magazines What's On TV and TV Times. After graduating with an art and design degree from Birmingham City University, she found her true calling in all things soap and has been writing about them for magazines and websites for over 20 years. A self-confessed soap addict, she's always had a great love of all the UK and Aussie soaps and owns everything from a Neighbours 1990 Annual to a DVD box set of classic Corrie episodes to prove it.