Bernie is really good at putting a positive spin on things but this week we see her at a real low when Joseph goes to A&E and Paul is given bad news about how quickly the condition is deteriorating. How is she feeling?
When they discover that he only has 6 to 12 months to live she is thinking Can it get any worse for them? They’ve all been holding on to the fact that he’s in the chair now, it’s gone from the cane to the chair and that’s been quite rapid. But it’s always that thing that maybe, the chair is going to be another six months that things will move more slowly. But this news is devastating. There’s nowhere for them to go really now. Bernie is struggling to be positive, there are other things going on with the family with Joseph being poorly and she wants to be strong for them all but even she feels a bit beaten now by it all.
What do you love about playing Bernie?
She is such a strong fierce woman, she will fight for her family but then she does things that cause them problems, she is a contradiction. She steps up when she has to and it is partly to make up for the past. She has been careless with the kids and with their emotions, and I think she now sort of sees herself as having to steer the ship through all kinds of waters. And if she’s the only one that can keep a positive spin on it, then she’ll keep doing that. She’ll keep doing that for as long as she can. And It is great fun to play. But you also know she’s going to crash and burn at some stage as well, which is what happens this week.
Can you explain what he scam was that she got involved in and how did she get found out?
She got involved with a scam with Paul’s friend Shelly? Before she died Shelly was doing a credit card scam with a company that she used to work for who treated very badly when she was diagnosed. She was buying expensive items with the credit cards. Bernie, who has always had her fingers in various pies, saw a way that she could actually help Shelly dispose of these items, and in the meantime, help herself and therefore improve Paul and Gemma’s lives. That’s what it’s always about for her now, helping her kids. She knew what the consequences could be but she’s not having that. She has ridden lady luck for too long and her time has run out. Big Garth was helping shift the stuff and having Big Garth involved in anything is always going to go wrong in the end. Her intentions are good but often misguided.
How does she feel when the police come knocking and charge her?
Yet again the positive Bernie comes to the fore. She is convinced they have nothing on her and that everything is going to be fine. That’s what she’s spreading. That’s the face that she’s wearing. There’s a little little voice that’s going this could be a horrific, her time could be up but she’s still she’s still got the mask on.
Knowing she has to go to court and she’s still obviously putting a brave face on it. But with her record she must know she could end up in prison. Bearing in mind this is Paul’s last Christmas. How does that make her feel?
Inside she is full of upset and self loathing. She’s done it again and when they need her the most because Gemma is struggling as well. When they need her the most she’s not going to be there again. She should have that kind of tattooed on her arm as a reminder . Because it’s just another pattern, isn’t it? And it is the truth she has never been needed more and she has let them down. By trying to help them she hasn’t thought through the possible consequences and now they are the ones paying the price of potentially not having her around. She’s in a mess.
And how is all this affecting our relationship with Dev?
He’s actually been very supportive of her and the situation, but they’ve had a few arguments about her behaviour. But he’s a family man. So you know, he gets that and he has done things that he is not proud of to try and protect his family. I think sometimes the things she does can put a bit of a wedge between them but so far, he’s been supportive. I love their relationship, they are both single parents, they have had lives before each other and they get on like a house on fire. I love working with Jimmy.
So what’s it been like working on the MND storyline?
It is an absolute honour for us all to be able to tell this story and to highlight what it’s about. I didn’t really know anything about it before being involved in this storyline so to be educating ourselves and the viewers is incredible. Corrie is doing it so brilliantly and so movingly and the outcome isn’t going to be good but from an actor’s point of view, it’s really humbling to be a part of it. And I get to work with so many different brilliant actors. We have this big blended family that are all pulling together, who all need each other and it is a privilege be telling this story that affects so many people in real life.
What reaction have you had from the viewers?
People are finding it incredibly moving. A lot of people have said that they weren’t really aware of what people with MND are living with until they watched the storyline. A lot of people know about Rob Burrows but to see the day to day problems faced by people with MND is really highlighting the condition and I know that means a lot to the MND community.
Coronation Street airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV1