Coronation Street star Alexandra Mardell: Working with idol Angela Griffin was 'surreal'

Coronation Street character Emma Brooker
(Image credit: Joseph Scanlon)

Angela’s character, Fiona Middleton, makes a brief return next week as Emma's estranged mum…

Coronation Street star Alexandra Mardell, who plays hairdresser Emma Brooker, has spoken about Angela Griffin’s return to Coronation Street as Fiona Middleton, and revealed that working with the actress was a dream come true.

Fiona, who was a permanent fixture on the cobbles between 1992 and 1998, will make a brief comeback next week as part of the storyline in which Emma discovers her biological father is Steve McDonald.

The much-loved character, who was recently revealed as being Emma’s mother, will be seen having a tense Skype call with the young crimper, who is angry about having been kept in the dark.

Angela, who has appeared in the likes of Cutting It, Waterloo Road and Lewis since leaving the ITV soap, came into the Coronation Street studios to film the one-off scene.

Fiona Middleton on a Skype call to daughter Emma

Emma will Skype mum Fiona, who now lives in Australia

Says Alexandra: “To have watched Angela on television all my life and to finally be working with her was so surreal. Everybody else was excited to have her back as well – there was a real buzz around the studio.

“She has been a bit of an idol for me. We’re both from Leeds, and when I was a kid, seeing her on screen made the idea of becoming an actress feel more reachable.

“I was too young to watch her in Corrie – I was only about five when she left – but I’ve watched all her other stuff, and I watched her on stage in the West End, in One Man, Two Guvnors.”

MORE: 7 things you didn't know about Alexandra Mardell

The 26 year old star adds that when the cameras weren’t rolling, she and Angela got to know one another, with the latter offering her some words of wisdom.

“We had lots of chat about her time in Corrie and other jobs she has done, and it was lovely to get some advice from her. She basically said ‘Just enjoy it.’

“She wanted to come back because she really enjoyed playing Fiona. She was much younger than me when she first came into the show (just 16) and said she learnt so much. This was really the starting point for her, which helped her with her future.”

Emma will discover the truth about her parentage when Steve takes her out for lunch and pretends she has food in her hair in order to tug out a lock – which he then sends off for DNA testing.

Coronation Street spoilers: Steve McDonald tells Emma he’s her father!

The moment Steve reveals to Emma that he's her dad

Discovering they are, indeed, related, he breaks the news to Emma at the funeral of the man she’d previously believed was her biological dad. Fed up with all the secrets and lies, Emma then decides to pack her bags and leave Weatherfield – but can she be talked out of it?

Says Alexandra: “For Emma, her world is crumbling around her. Her family have already lied to her, and now everybody else is lying and it all gets a bit much. Although she probably knows that Steve was trying to do the right thing, it hasn’t come out that way, and she’s taking her anger out on him.

“But I would like them to bond. They’ve got a lot in common. He’s a numpty and she’s definitely a bit of a numpty as well. It’s funny how things have worked out!”

Coronation Street continues on ITV.



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.