Corrie's Tristan Gemmill: I moved dead bodies to the mortuary for £2 an hour before getting a call!

robert preston, tristan gemmill
(Image credit: Joseph Scanlon)

Corrie star Tristan Gemmill, who plays Robert Preston, has revealed how he worked as a hospital porter before making it big as an actor

Actors are often forced to do menial jobs before they hit the big time – take Brad Pitt, who dressed up as a chicken for an American fast food joint, or Johnny Depp, who sold ballpoint pens to pay the bills. But when it comes to unglamorous occupations, we reckon Corrie star Tristan Gemmill’s old job is top of the tree.

The former Casualty star, who plays chef Robert Preston in the ITV soap, tells us he worked as a hospital porter, ferrying dead bodies to the mortuary, before he found fame on the telly.

Tristan took on the job when returning to England from Melbourne, Australia, where he lived from the age of 15 to 25, after his family emigrated from Kent. The star had secured several professional roles down under – including a part in the play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, alongside Dennis Waterman. But, unknown in the UK, he had to do what he could to get by.

The 49-year-old explained: "I came back just because I was curious and wanted to experience the UK as an adult. It wasn’t with the intention to re-emigrate permanently, but just to spend a year or so here.

"I was working as a hospital porter, shifting dead bodies around, and was on the verge of getting on a plane back to Australia when the director of the play rang me up and asked me if I wanted to do the English tour. That was a life-changing moment because I was earning £2 an hour, cleaning up the slops in the hospital kitchen and moving bodies to the mortuary, and then the next minute, someone was saying ‘Do you want an acting job that you don’t even have to audition for?’

"So I did the tour and that led to another job and another job. Suddenly I’d accidentally re-emigrated back to England, and I haven’t looked back."

Tristan, whose father Andrew, was a newsreader for the BBC and whose mother, Diana, was a nurse, added that he’d have loved to have been a professional tennis player had he not become an actor. But, acknowledging that he was never up to Andy Murray’s standard, he admits that he would more likely have become 'something very boring and middle class like an accountant, a doctor or a lawyer'.

Alison Slade
Soaps Editor
Alison Slade has over 20 years of experience as a TV journalist and has spent the vast majority of that time as Soap Editor of TV Times magazine.  She is passionate about the ability of soaps to change the world by presenting important, issue-based stories about real people in a relatable way. There are few soap actors that she hasn’t interviewed over the years, and her expertise in the genre means she has been called upon as a judge numerous times for The British Soap Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards.

When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.