Katherine Kelly: 'The live aspect of The Sound of Music Live! is going to be really challenging!'

(Image credit: ITV)

Famous for playing Becky McDonald in Coronation Street, Katherine is set to star as Baroness Elsa Schraeder alongside Kara Tointon as Maria and Alexander Armstrong as Uncle Max in ITV’s The Sound of Music Live!

Yes, in a very brave move, ITV is staging this world famous musical live on Sunday, December 20. Things could get very nervy and tense on the big night!

What’s On TV’s Nick Cannon spoke to Katherine – who’s also about to star in the second series of BBC1’s Happy Valley – about how she’s been preparing for the adrenaline rush of live TV…

Were you a fan of The Sound of Music film as a kid?

“Yes. My brothers and I grew up watching musical theatre, though I think we preferred Mary Poppins! I definitely remember being at junior school and musicals were a big craze. But I never got to be a Maria or the Baroness, I always had to be a nun!”

So were you delighted when you were offered the part of Baroness Elsa Schraeder?

“To be honest when the job first came through I was like, ‘oh absolutely not’ for many reasons. I’ve had my experience of live TV in Corrie and I didn’t really want to recreate that. But then I read the script and the whole thing isn’t like the film at all. The Baroness is also very different to the film version played by Eleanor Parker – she’s such a different character. After that my instinct was that it felt like the right thing to do.”

Tell us about the songs you have to sing…

“There are two duets with Max Detweiler, played by Alexander Armstrong – who has just got an album out, so no pressure! The first one is How Can Love Survive? and then the other one is No Way To Stop It.”

Is the Baroness a glamorous character?

“Yes! She’s from Vienna, which was the heart of the arts in Austria and very forward thinking back then. It was absolutely the place to be in Europe. Then she falls in love with Captain von Trapp and finds herself out in the countryside and she’s a complete fish out of water.”

You say she’s different a different character compared to the film, but does she still clash with Maria over the Captain?

“No, she doesn’t even say anything mean to Maria. Mentally Maria isn’t even on her radar really. She thinks it’s great Maria’s there because it means she doesn’t have to do as much with the von Trapp kids. As far as she’s concerned Maria is just a nun and a pauper.”

Are you prepared for the adrenaline rush of live TV?

“I did the Corrie 50th anniversary show, but that felt different because I’d been working with all the cast and crew for four years and playing Becky for four years, so there was a security within that. The live aspect of the show will definitely be the most challenging thing about it, but I have faith it will all be fine! In any case, I fly out to Australia the next morning so if it all goes wrong it doesn’t matter because I’ll be on the other side of the world!”

You’ve been combining rehearsals with filming the second series of BBC1's Happy Valley. Have you been singing The Sound of Music songs while on set?

"Well, I’m playing a Detective Inspector and it’s a murder case, so I’m stood in the freezing cold in Halifax talking about a dead body. It’s definitely not a time for any songs, never mind ones from The Sound of Music!

The Sound of Music Live! is showing on Sunday December 20 at 7.30pm on ITV

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.