Can you sum up how life is going for Peter right now? He’s recovered after his transplant operation, he’s not drinking, his relationship is going well. He’s living a nice, normal life isn’t he?
He’s doing really well these days, he’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s lucky to be alive and he knows that. So as we start this story with Thorne, he’s in a really good place, he’s just happy that he’s still there and everything is as good as it can be.
How are you enjoying playing Peter in this happier place?
I’m really enjoying playing out different sorts of stories within the family and now this story is something totally different to anything I’ve played in the past. After all the drama with Peter’s drinking, I like how this is a continuation of the story, but in a completely different way.
What did you think when you read about what Peter hears about Dr Thorne and his surgery, were you shocked?
I had no clue that something like this would ever happen really, it’s totally shocking that surgeons would ever place bets on operations but I think the single thing that Peter really takes offence at is why he chose him, because he was an alcoholic. It’s an interesting one because on the one hand Thorne is a brilliant surgeon who has saved his life but on the other hand, even though he played with his life, which I think he could have possibly let go because of what the outcome was, it’s the fact that he feels that it’s because he’s an alcoholic that’s why he was chosen. I think that’s the thing that’s the real trigger for him.
Does that take Peter back to that place of no self worth, the time when he felt he didn’t deserve the transplant?
It makes him feel that he’s worthless. This guy is very privileged and yet he chose to play with his life. They’re similar ages but they’ve had very different life experiences and it makes it all become very personal between these two men. One who’s had a very privileged life and then there’s Peter who hasn’t had that life at all.
As you say they’re of a similar age but with a very different background, does it become a bit of a power play between them as Peter realises he can take Thorne on for this?
Yes, there are points where it is a little bit like a game of chess, but then Thorne holds all the cards really and Peter as we know can be hot headed when he can’t express himself or things aren’t going his way. When Thorne refuses to even try and understand him, that’s when Peter starts to revert back to what he knows, when he starts to get angry and starts saying some ridiculous things. I understand it from Peter’s point of view, this man was playing with his life, but he’s just digging another hole for himself. We see him lose his temper quite early on in the restaurant and punch Thorne and as soon as he does that he’s fighting a losing battle..
Do you think as soon as Peter’s done that he regrets it?
Possibly underneath but at that moment he’s not thinking like that, he starts to feel that the system is against him, the police are against him and it seems just like a one man fight against the system. He just can’t believe that the police haven’t arrested Thorne instead of him. Peter at this point is so confused by it, he’s angry and he can’t get his head around this. It’s dragging him down again but he can’t seem to stop these thoughts.
Carla gets involved and tries to reason with Thorne but he basically tries to blackmail Carla into a date. How does this make Peter feel?
He just can’t believe the audacity of him. He wants to go around and handle it in the way he does, which is to confront him on a one to one basis but that’s not how Thorne does things. The way he operates is not the language that Peter knows. He wants to be straight with him and he just can’t understand why Thorne would do this and why he’s not straight with people.
How are you finding working with Dominic Mafham who plays Thorne?
He’s been brilliant, we’ve got on really well. The mistake would have been for an actor to just play a flash surgeon but he’s just played it so well. He comes at you with a smile and an understanding attitude, he’s got all the words whereas Peter doesn’t have his vocabulary and that’s where he’s losing the battle. Dominic’s been really, really good in it, there’s a scene in the restaurant and it was like a chess game. When Peter plays him as his own game, when he’s in the right space, he can do it back but when he goes further, when he starts to use all his big words and become condescending to Peter, then Peter can’t cope with that. That’s when Peter starts to attack him or say he’s going to do ridiculous things. It’s kind of sad, really, to see him in that position.
Do you think that this will set Peter back with his recovery, he’s been doing really well but do you think this has brought some old ghosts back for him?
Yes it’s started him on that path again, it’s confirming this self loathing for himself that he has laying underneath. It’s not an easy thing to live with, he is troubled and when he gets troubled like that and stops communicating with people again that’s when I don’t know where he’s going to go. What I do know is that the place he’s in at the moment is not a very good one. When he starts not to listen to people, he starts to isolate himself and when he’s not listening to Carla or his family and he’s on his own mission, that he absolutely starts to believe is the right thing to do, that’s when it gets interesting.
How are you enjoying playing the family dynamics in the ever extending Barlow household?
I really enjoy that, I’d like more scenes with them all together in the house where all the Barlows are involved. Hopefully now we’re coming out of COVID we will start to have those bigger scenes again, with more people in that mix. For now I’m just really enjoying playing something that’s totally different for Peter, it’s the seed of a storyline that then grows into something else. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this pans out. We go from just one little strand here and one little thing that’s happened which becomes just the tip of an iceberg, it’s really interesting.
Coronation Street airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV