How did you feel when you got the call asking you to come back this time?

I was really excited. You know I loved playing Henry before, he’s a character who brings a lot of fun and is a lot of fun to play. And I had such a wonderful time working on the show last time and I miss all the people up there. So I was thrilled at the idea of coming back.

What have you been up to since we last saw you on the cobbles?

Not long after my last visit I became a dad which was very exciting, we have two gorgeous children who have kept me busy. Then really not long after that was lockdown and like most actors I didn’t do much during that time, I found that very strange as I realised that I have been on a stage every year since I was 9 so to not be able to do that was very odd. As soon as everything started opening up again I toured with Dial M For Murder and then I was very fortunate to be cast in Mousetrap in the West End. And now this, in fact I finished that on the Saturday and was in Manchester filming Corrie on the Monday so it has been a bit of a whirlwind. 

What was it like doing Mousetrap, it is a play with so much history much like Coronation Street?

It was pretty special. It is the 70th anniversary year so there was a big spotlight on the show. In fact, one of our performances was on the 70th anniversary of the first performance. So that was quite frightening, there were lots of previous cast members in to watch and they were incredibly supportive and lovely. It’s a privilege to make your mark, very small mark, but leave your mark on something which has such a prestigious history, very much like getting the role in Coronation Street which has been around almost as long as Mousetrap

So Henry obviously left under a cloud. What has he been up to? And how has he managed to get back in the bosom of his family business? 

I think the you see this time Henry is a bit of a different Henry. Before he was a bit younger, he was quite carefree and didn’t really have a lot of responsibility in his life. He didn’t necessarily think too much about other people. But I feel despite his faults, he always had a good heart but he was a bit entitled and he was selfish in some respects. When he left last time he was beaten up by some folks and they broke some bones, he probably had time to reflect on some of his choices. I think the thing now is that he knows deep down that he’s a good person and he doesn’t want to be the person he was. He genuinely wants to help where he can. It’s nice for him to be able to come back and redeem himself, to show people that he’s a good man, and he’s a nice man. And he might you know, he he’s a bit more grown up now. He’s got a bit more responsibility. Not quite as carefree, but I think the think what’s nice is that Gemma is still the person that pulls out his fun side. That’s maybe something he’s forgotten. But she she she reminds him of that side of himself and he is pleased she is back in his life.

How did he feel  when Gemma came to see him? Is he aware she is married with quads? 

No he has no idea about what her life is like now. He is really pleased to see her and remembering the good times they had and the fun that he does have with her maybe you will start to see a few of those old feelings resurface. But because of everything that happened he is also a bit hesitant about showing that. He is trying to do everything and just try and help you out as best as you can.

Do you think he does still have feelings for her?

I do think for him there is that sort of romantic aspect to it. When you meet an old flame you can’t help but be reminded of the times you had together and for him they were good times before it all went wrong and that was his fault. I do think it runs deeper with them as well. I think she makes him feel alive. She makes him feel comfortable being who he is and that’s not something that he’s not felt like anybody else. To have somebody remind you that you can be fun and you can be nice and you can lift them up when they’re down. It’s quite intoxicating for him. Those feelings do start to resurface. But whether or not he chooses to do anything about it is something that will come out as the storyline develops.

Is he genuinely interested in buying the Rovers?

Yes, I think so. He came close to being the landlord during his last time in the street. I think the Rovers for him, as well as it for many of  Corrie’s viewers, holds a special place in his heart. He has a lot of fond memories, he enjoys going to a place that his granddad Cecil loved as well. And actually, I think there’s a fondness for his granddad and the Rovers too, It has some really powerful memories for him and I don’t think he had realised that until now. It’s a place that he holds quite dear. So yeah, I think he is genuinely interested in trying to help, I’m not sure he is thinking about the business side and his heart is ruling his head a bit.

What happens when Gemma  goes to meet him at what she thinks is the promotional event? And when she gets there, he sort of is quite honest about the fact that he just wanted to spend some time with so just talk me through sort of what happens with that.

I think basically, as the time goes by, he is realising that these feelings are reemerging and developing because he doesn’t know the situation with Gemma and that she is married. He’s quite keen to express himself so he goes for quite a romantic gesture. It’s quite intense for Gemma because she doesn’t want to jeopardise the future of the pub and him buying it. But they’re not quite seeing eye to eye. The tables are tuned a bit, this time it is Gemma who isn’t being entirely honest and is using him to a degree and he is unaware of that. The truth is being hidden from him. And he’s made the choice to put his feelings out there and sort of see if she is giving anything back. He thinks he’s proved himself and sort of redeemed himself. 

Is he angry when he finds out what she is up to?

I think he finds that quite difficult to deal with, but he still wants to be a good man and do what he can. He still feels bad that he let her down when he was going to buy the Rovers last time and make her the landlady think he’s wanting to try and write that wrong.

What was it like filming those party scenes in the Rovers? Was it as much fun as it looks?

Filming in  the Rovers is always really great fun. One of my favourite things about Corrie is the writing is absolutely brilliant. It’s very sharp, very funny. Very insightful. And I just want to read the scripts as soon as I get them. Even reading those scenes made me chuckle it’s very, very funny. There’s a lot going on. It was just nice to be back. Back in the pub with a lot of people I really love.

Do people still recognize you from Cory? 

Once in a blue moon, yeah. I live down south  so there isn’t that immediate recognition that happens in Manchester, but every so often someone will say ‘do I know you?’ and more often than not they have seen me in Corrie. But I tend to be a bit coy about it.

Would you would you like Henry to be able to buy the Rovers and save it for you the residents?

Yes, absolutely. It is  fun being involved in something that matters to the residents and the viewers. If nothing else, hopefully that will redeem him in the eyes of the viewers. The Rovers is the heart of the show, it is the social hub where everybody gets together and it’s such an iconic place. So much has happened there over the years. To be a character that’s involved in it is very exciting, but also as an actor to be to be playing a character that that is so linked with, with such an amazing, iconic location and piece of TV history is a real pleasure. The Newton family have been around since the show started so it’s really part of the show’s history. For this storylineI had a real sort of rifle through back episodes and family history, and it’s certainly very interesting. 

It’s been five years since you since you’ve been here. What was it like coming back? Did you slip back into Henry’s shoes easily and what was it like catching up with everybody?

It was lovely. Because it all felt the same but so much has changed. You sort of step back into the rooms you know so well on set and all the people you know are there and lots of new people. I was nervous to start filming again, because of lockdown it’s been a few years since I’ve done screen work. But my first scene was with Dolly. We just have so much fun. It just felt like old times. It’s absolutely wonderful being back, I hope even though he’s a little bit different and a little bit more grown up. I really hope the viewers enjoy seeing him again. Because it it really great fun to step back into Henry’s shoes.

Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV1

By Eastieoaks

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