Former Coronation Street star Tracie Bennett has joined ITV crime drama Scott & Bailey as Rachel's mother Sharon. Following a brief appearance, more about her character is revealed in Wednesday's second episode. Quite a lot more, as Tracie explains...
What can you tell us about Sharon, the character you play in Scott & Bailey?
"It's fair to say she's a bit unhinged, but she's trying her best to make contact with her daughter Rachel (Suranne Jones), who she hasn't seen for many years. Sharon left Rachel when she was very young and ran off... to Wigan!"
What does she have to say to Rachel?
"Sharon tells her she's not the same person she was when she left. It seems Sharon sincerely wants to make amends, but it's awkward after all that time."
Rachel's sister Alison (Sally Lindsay) doesn't want to know Sharon at all does she?
"Not at all. Alison brought up both Rachel and their younger brother, Dom, and Sharon remarks that she thinks Alison could have done better. It's like she's in total denial. She's either delusional - or just really drunk!"
So has Sharon really changed?
"Sharon has regrets and genuinely wants her daughter back in her life. But when she comes back she displays some really inappropriate behaviour. She's there to embarrass and hinder, which is terrible for Rachel. But she just can't help herself."
In this week's episode, Sharon attends Rachel's wedding to traffic cop Sean (Sean Maguire). We hear she gives a memorable performance on the karaoke...
"Sharon sings Queen's Don't Stop Me Now very off key. She's the life and soul of the party and gets everyone up singing. Then she flashes her boobs at the guests - it's like she's got some kind of breast Tourettes!"
Sharon sounds like a riot! Are you pleased to be back on TV?
"I've worked on television in Manchester since I was about 20. I started off on Corrie in 1982 playing Sharon Gaskell. I'm so glad Granada Studios is still there - it's the building of my youth. As soon as I saw it, I said: 'Granada, I'm home!'"
How does TV compare to being on Broadway [In 2012, Tracie played Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow]?
"You think it's just another theatre in another town. But when you're actually there, you soon realise how massive it is in terms of pressure - it's all about money and marketing and being 'the product'.
Did anyone ever come backstage to see you after a performance?
"All the time - it's in their culture over there to 'pay respects', even though they don't know you. What do you say when you've got Jane Fonda and Joan Rivers in your dressing room and you're giving them a drink? It's a bit surreal, but it's lovely that they want to say your performance was good. You often don't know who's coming, you'll just get told: 'Somebody might be in tonight' and it could be your bin man... or it could be Robert De Niro!"
Scott & Bailey screens on Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV.
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