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Martin Hancock — things you didn’t know about the Coronation Street star

Martin Hancock as Spider at Toyah's protest.
Martin Hancock as Coronation Street's Spider Nugent. (Image credit: ITV)

Martin Hancock became a household name after appearing in Coronation Street as loveable eco-warrior Spider Nugent. And now, after nearly two decades away from the soap, he's back.

The eccentric nephew of Street stalwart Emily Bishop, Spider, whose real name is Geoffrey, was based on real-life anti-motorway protestor Swampy. He first came to the cobbles in 1997 when he turned up on his Auntie Em’s doorstep looking for a place to stay. 

For the next three years, Spider made Weatherfield his home, ruffling the locals’ feathers with his campaigning, and enjoying a romance with Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor). 

Since leaving in 2000 to embark on a spiritual journey to India, Spider has popped by a couple of times to check in — and now the environmental activist is back.

In a new interview with What to Watch, Martin spoke about his return to Coronation Street and said: "I was extremely nervous before filming. I did have sleepless nights, but I caught up with Simon Gregson the other day and I haven't stopped nattering with people, to be honest with you!"

Here's everything you need to know about Martin Hancock... 

Martin Hancock is a born and bred Londoner

Martin Hancock was born on 6th September 1973 in Fulham, to an English dad and a New Zealander mum. A proud Londoner and supporter of West Ham Football Club, he was educated at Drayton Manor High School before becoming a pupil at the Drama Centre London and the Royal Court People’s Theatre.

Growing up, Martin was particularly close to his mum, Vi, who supported his acting ambitions. Sadly, Vi passed away while the actor was working at Coronation Street in the late nineties. In an interview a couple of years after her death, Martin said: "I was heartbroken — it was horrible. My mum was my soundboard for everything. We were best mates and had no unfinished business. She was so proud of me when I got Corrie — she couldn’t believe it.” 

He was scouted for the part of Spider

Like many jobbing actors, Martin earned his crust doing bit TV parts and stage productions, but his big break came when the casting director of Granada TV saw him in a quirky play called Hoover Bag. 

His standout performance won him an audition for the role of Spider in Britain’s longest-running soap, Coronation Street. The news of a potential job on the Manchester-based show came as a huge surprise for Cockney lad Martin, but it was love at first sight when he picked up the script for Spider. Martin joined the cobbles’ cast in 1997 and made the part of Spider his own, winning the hearts of millions of viewers.

Martin Hancock in Coronation Street

 Martin Hancock as Spider in Coronation Street. (Image credit: ITV)

He wasn’t a fan of Spider’s clothes

As an ethical warrior, fast fashion was an absolute no-no for Spider. When it came to clobber, the character tended to wear the same items on repeat, and fans may recall his rather moth-eaten stripey jumper. Martin, who described his own nineties style as more ‘techno-raver than eco-warrior’, remembers it well. 

In a recorded chat with Distinct Nostalgia (opens in new tab) to mark Coronation Street’s 60th birthday, he admitted: "I was a bit dismayed with the costume when I first got it. They had this multicoloured jumper they always used to put me in, which was the very thing of what an eco-warrior might wear. But it was so itchy, scratchy hot — boiling to wear on a hot day, and then freezing cold on a cold day. It served no good purpose as a jumper!"

He’s also a movie star

After three years in Soapland, Martin quit Coronation Street to focus on new acting projects, and offers of work quickly came flooding in. 

To date, the actor has appeared in over 20 feature films and has worked with several of the best directors in the biz, including Ridley Scott and Michael Winterbottom. Between 2005-2006, Martin played registrar Reg Lund in BBC medical drama, Holby City, and starred as Soapy in six episodes of mini-series, Cradle to Grave. His more recent film credits include The Car: Road to Revenge and 6 Days, which is available to watch on Netflix.

His wife was behind his Corrie comeback

Having remained one of Coronation Street’s most memorable characters, Martin has often been approached by fans wanting to know if he’d return to the show. And after former co-star Georgia Taylor posted a nostalgic snap of a young Toyah and Spider together last Christmas, it got the actor thinking the good old days. But it was his wife who actually gave him the push to pursue a comeback. 

In a chat with Metro (opens in new tab), Martin revealed:  "My wife said, 'You’ve always said you’d go back and you’re not getting any younger so pull your finger out and have a word with your agent.' So I had a word with my agent who had a word with Corrie and there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and here I am."

He was nervous about reprising his role

Martin admits he battled nerves and had a few sleepless nights ahead of his Corrie comeback. Thankfully though, there were a few familiar faces to help ease his anxiety. "My first day back before we started filming I came in for an orientation because it's a new studio from the one that I was at and the first person I bumped into was one of the first ADs I ever worked with, which was Dale," the star shared with What To Watch. "The first cast members I met were Georgia and Jane (Danson, who plays Leanne). That was just brilliant. It was like a huge warm blanket of love thrown over me. The years just rolled back!"

A young Toyah Battersby and Spider Nugent

A young Toyah Battersby and Spider Nugent. (Image credit: ITV)

He ships Spider and Toyah’s relationship

Martin is happily married in real life, although has not publicly disclosed his wife’s name. And the actor has hinted there could be a chance of a rekindled romance between Spider and former love Toyah. 

The couple have enjoyed an on/off relationship over the years, and Martin reckons there’s still unfinished business there. He told Digital Spy (opens in new tab): "Whenever they've parted ways, it's always been with love in their hearts and kind words — they've always been friends. Spider thinks the world of Toyah and she’s the same as Spider, they've always been that way. They are a partnership and a partnership for life."

Martin Hancock’s fact file

Frequently asked questions about the actor...

How old is Martin Hancock?

Martin Hancock is 49, he was born on 6th September 1973.

Is Martin Hancock married?

Martin Hancock is married, although his wife’s name is not public knowledge.

Does Martin Hancock have any children?

Martin Hancock does not have any children.

Where was Martin Hancock born?

Martin Hancock was born in Fulham, London.

How tall is Martin Hancock?

Martin Hancock is six foot tall.

Twitter: @martinhancock11

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Laura Morgan
Laura Morgan

Laura has been a journalist for over a decade, writing about soaps, TV entertainment, fashion, beauty, and food. After graduating from university, she started her career working at a national soap and TV magazine. During her seven-year stint there she joined the cast of Emmerdale for a tour around the famous village, partied with soap stars at awards bashes, interviewed her acting idol David Suchet, and sat in the front row of Strictly Come Dancing

Her heart lies with the soaps, and her all-time favourite character has to be EastEnders' Pat Butcher - no one rocked a big earring quite like her. She's also a huge fan of detective crime dramas, particularly old school Inspector Morse, Endeavour, and adaptations of Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot. When she's not writing, she loves a spot of second-hand shopping and going on adventures with her young son.