So firstly how are you enjoying your time on Coronation Street?
Coronation Street has been even more of a dream job than I thought it would ever be. It’s such a huge job that you dream about then when you get there it’s real, you’re on the cobbles, meeting the people that you’ve grown up watching and it’s absolutely amazing. The cast and crew are all amazing and to get to come in as a couple with Stephanie, coming in as a team, has just made it even better, because you’re both experiencing it together. Everyone has been absolutely amazing so it feels like we’ve been here for years already. After you get over the initial shock, it’s like you’ve got a lovely cosy pair of slippers and everyone’s fantastic, it’s been wonderful.
Have you enjoyed coming into the show with Steph and causing a bit of mayhem, is she a fun person to work with?
Oh my God, Stephanie Davis is a force of nature in the best possible way because she’s this brilliant combination, she’s a lot younger than me, I’ve been around for such a long time and done a lot of shows, but she’s done it all, she’s so experienced. So coming in together was great, we met in makeup on day one, she threw her arms around me, we held our little fingers together and we were like okay we’re a team let’s stick together and have a laugh. And we really have, we cry with laughter so often during scenes, which is especially great now we’re at war and in a marriage that is really falling apart. But when the camera cuts we’ve become such great mates. It just makes filming such fun.
What do you make of the character of Darren, how would you describe him?
I’d describe Darren as a self made businessman who likes the good life and loves his wife. He is doing everything he can to make a good life for the two of them. He’s very sociable, he loves the golf club and he wants to keep his wife happy but unfortunately he’s probably doing it in the wrong way. He thinks that keeping Courtney happy is keeping her in the best clothes, in the lifestyle that she’s become accustomed to, but maybe he’s forgetting to just be a husband and that she’s right in front of him. Yes she loves the holidays and yes she loves the restaurants but what actually got them together in the first place was passion, finding each other funny and finding each other attractive and maybe those things are getting lost. He loves business, he loves making money. I think he’s not come from a huge amount of money, he’s self made, he’s ambitious, so he loves self made and ambitious people which I think is why he really is fond of Dev and Aadi. I think he sees a really bright, young, smart guy in Aadi who seems really well brought up and he sees himself in him.
Would you say that he’s someone not to be crossed?
I would say Darren is first and foremost hugely ambitious and in business you have to be ruthless. I don’t think he’s evil but his first and foremost is making money, so don’t cross him and certainly don’t double cross him or he will find a way of getting revenge. Whether it’s in business or whether that’s in life I feel like he’s a very strong willed character. He’s very sharp, he’s not young in the game, he’s seen people come and he’s seen people go, and he’s got to where he is by not letting people push him around, not letting people undercut him or be deceitful. And if they are then he’ll come for them.
And his relationship with Courtney, do you think he genuinely loves her or is she more of a trophy wife for him?
I think he absolutely loves her. I think it’s a modern marriage, they got together through infidelity, they were an affair. He was already married before, but when he met Courtney, I truly feel that he believed he’d found his soulmate. She’s a match for him, she’s fiery, they can brown but they also make each other laugh more than anything. He found someone who wanted to join the good life with him but also had this business brain as well, so the two of them together as far as he’s concerned are this amazing match. She’s not a trophy wife, but she’s someone who loves to enjoy the finer things, looks good and is smart. For him it’s a match made in heaven.
He tells Dev he suspects she might be having an affair, what makes him think that and does he have any idea it could be Aadi?
I think he has absolutely no idea it’s Aadi. With having a wife like Courtney who’s beautiful, brainy, who walks into a room and everyone looks at her he’s always on his guard. It’s not that he mistrusts her but he knows he’s got a wife that men will find attractive. Because he’s played around in the past and when a couple get together from an affair it’s always in the background that these are people that can be stray. They definitely have that in their DNA as a couple and I think in many ways in the early days that kept it fresh and exciting. But I think at the moment he’s just so lost in making money and keeping her in this lifestyle that he thinks she wants that sadly he’s lost sight. I think if he suspected anyone it would be a millionaire businessman from the golf club not the 18 year old who works in the corner shop. Aadi just seems like such a sweet and innocent guy, which is one of the reasons why he made him his driver, he certainly never thought of him as some threat to his marriage. It’s almost like the perfect crime because he’s not seeing it in front of him in Aadi or Dev, they just seem like genuinely nice new people in his life that he’s enjoying bringing along for the ride and hopefully making some money for them.
So when it all comes out at the bistro how shocked is Darren first and foremost?
When it all comes out in the bistro it plays out like a thriller. Firstly he suspects she’s been having an affair but he does not think of it as in front of him. He’s been worried she’s been playing, constantly looking at her phone but he’s been trying to ignore it. Then when it comes out in the bistro, she confesses and gives him the hint that it’s somebody close to him, then the whole thing starts to unravel. He starts going mad with paranoia, he feels like everyone around him is a suspect and of course the first person he suspects is Dev. Considering that he brought him onto this deal, he’s trying to make him a lot of money and they’ve become good friends feels like a total betrayal. He feels like he could absolutely kill him. But then when he finds out it’s Aadi, this boy, it’s humiliating. Darren’s in his 40s and suddenly she’s with an 18 year old. I mean what can he give her that Darren’s not? It’s deeply humiliating, but then suddenly he thinks hang on, this is a game, this isn’t real, because he’s got no money, he’s got nothing to offer her and he knows Courtney, he knows what she likes. She likes a beautiful house, she likes holidays around the world, they’ve just got back from a cruise around the Caribbean so to suddenly switch to being with this 18 year old little shrimp, no way, this is part of the game. And that’s why he doesn’t try and kill him because this is Courtney. It’s deeply humiliating and there’s maybe no coming back from this because essentially it’s the most toxic thing she can do in a relationship that already has a lot of toxicity. But she’s pushed it now to a level that I’m not sure they can come back from, an 18 year old kid, she’s absolutely crossed the line. Infidelity is one thing, they both come from infidelity so it’s not necessarily the be all and end all, but the humiliation of an affair with this young kid, who he’s been paying, really is a stab in the heart. It’s total humiliation, it’s embarrassing as well as being heartbreaking..
How nasty are things going to get with Courtney? Is he the sort of person who’ll want some form of revenge?
I think one of their main reasons for being attracted to each other in the first place, but also one of the reasons why they end up tearing each other apart, is that neither of them back down. They both have a business brain, so like being in a deal they don’t back down and that is definitely the feeling here. He’s not going to go running to her begging for forgiveness, begging her to come back, he’s going to try to match her in the humiliation stakes. He’s going to make her pay emotionally and also point out to her exactly what she’s losing and remind her that her life is going to be a hell of a lot less comfortable without him, without the attention and without the credit card. He’s going to make this a hell of a lot worse before it can even start to get better.
Do you think Dev’s business interests could be in trouble here too?
It’s tricky because Dev is a nice guy and he doesn’t blame Dev but the reality is his son is sleeping with his wife and continuing to do business everyday with a man whose son is sleeping with his wife, is a humiliation that he’s not prepared to take. He’s worked too hard to have to go through that humiliation. Darren doesn’t need Dev, Dev needs him more but then Darren thinks maybe there’s a way I can use him to my advantage. He desperately wants Darren’s business so maybe there’s a way he can use him to his advantage to maybe help his marriage survive or not, we shall see.
You’ve worked on lots of other serial dramas like The Archers, Emmerdale, The Bill, Heartbeat, did those jobs set you in good stead for Corrie?
Absolutely, I’ve been on many TV sets in 25 years, I’ve worked with so many people but I do believe Corrie has something special about it. There’s something special about knowing how it was the first. You really do feel it, you feel its history when you walk on the cobbles, when you meet William Roache who is so lovely on your first day and Helen Worth who gave me a hug. Those things don’t happen on other jobs so it makes it extra special. But in terms of the speed and the quality, what is incredible is how many episodes we’re doing at the same time and the quality of the writing. Stephanie and I feel so lucky that we’ve been brought in with such a rich storyline, that you do get such a backstory, we get a marriage, we get a whole life that we’ve been able to come in with that’s been given to us in the writing. We’ve not had to trickle in and gradually find our way with the characters, they were so strong from the beginning and as an actor it just gives you so much to work on.
You seem to have played a lot of policeman/officer type characters in the past, is it fun to play someone like Darren?
When you stick around for long enough you get to go through different stages of your career. The first 10 years, especially when I was young, I was either playing young rubbish coppers making lots of mistakes or I was mugging old ladies! Then you go up the ranks and in my 30s I started to play people in the army and more young detectives. But then in your 40s I genuinely believe you start getting the great roles because they’ve lived a life and they’re richer. It’s like Darren, he’s a self made millionaire, he’s lived a life, he’s on his second marriage and it’s a real treat. You really feel like you’ve arrived in your 40s, it makes being an actor much more exciting because the stories are richer, because you’ve had more of a life, you’re a bit more rough around the edges and crinkly around the eyes. I was getting sick of playing young puppy dog anyway.
Did you know anyone on the cast when you started, anyone you’ve worked with before?
I had worked with Jane Hazelgrove on Casualty 10 years ago, who is a legend now on Coronation Street as she was a legend on casualty. The fact that I’m getting to do so many scenes with her, and Jimmi Harkishin who is just fantastic, is incredible. Jane must have worked with every actor in the world when she was in Casualty because everyone got an injury but on day one on Coronation Street she came up to me after not seeing her in 10/12 years and remembered our storyline from back then. She threw her arms around me and I just couldn’t have asked for a better first day. And now that I’m getting to do so many scenes with her it just took away that new boy feeling.
Is there anyone who you’d like to have scenes with?
I mean, everyone! He’s a businessman in the Off licence trade so I’m sure he’s got his eye on one day buying a certain pub.. then he’d get to work with everyone haha!”. Many years ago I also worked with the legendary Dame Maureen Lipman, we did a very funny commercial together and watching her on Coronation Street feels like this the origins of Coronation Street with a modern day representation. Watching her and David Neilson, these actors who are able to really be the essence of Coronation Street is like a master class. I watched them on screen to attune myself as to how to be the best you can be in Coronation Street industry. So to work with Evelyn or Roy or any of those extraordinary characters would be a dream come true.
And finally should Aadi be watching his back? Or is it Courtney he’ll want to make suffer?
I think there’s always a chance that Aadi could be in trouble. I don’t think Darren is violent but there are other ways to get revenge on someone. He can certainly make sure that Aadi never earns a penny in business in the north of England, he can make things very, very hard for him. And if Aadi is someone who’s ambitious and wants to make his way in the world then Darren could be a huge problem. Very early on in his career he’s made a huge mistake by crossing someone who’s in the peak of his career. In a business sense he could make things incredibly hard for Aadi but at the same time Dareen sort of gets it, at 18 he was probably doing exactly the same thing. Darren’s not a psychopath but he’s somebody who at the moment is very wounded. He feels like he’s lost the love of his life when he had a second shot and he’s not sure he can see a way back from it. So at the moment it’s just very, very painful and being in pain can make someone get carried away.
Coronation Street airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 20:00 on ITV1