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Soaps Interview

Margi Clarke (Jackie Dobbs, Corrie)

By and Neil Wilkes
Margi Clarke (Jackie Dobbs, Corrie)
Coronation Street's tart with a heart Jackie Dobbs returns to the ITV soap next week with bright pink hair and her old ways in tow. Jackie - played by 54-year-old Margi Clarke - finds herself in a spot of bother with Scary Brian (Paul Oldham) and her son, Tyrone (Alan Halsall), is stunned to discover she owes him £1,000. Here, Margi chats to us about her initial stint with the Manchester-based soap, her pink hair and what her character's been up to since we last saw her on screen.

How did you end up back with Corrie?
"I heard that Coronation Street was going to recast Jackie Dobbs. Somebody spoke up for me at a meeting with the writers and producers and said 'Margi's in a great place right now, she looks fantastic, she's healthy, very positive, and would love to make up for her shortcomings last time'. So the producers said they wanted to give me another chance. When I got the phone call, I was crying tears of joy out of my living room window. It was nine years ago since I last walked the Cobbles, so I've been lost at sea for that long. It was like finding my way back to the land of milk and honey. I couldn't believe it. I'm delighted to be back, though."

Why did you leave Corrie last time?
"I didn't treat it as the golden opportunity that it was. I lost my mum and basically, I lost the plot. I was on the ale, not paying attention and not being utterly professional. It's one of Britain's top soaps and to be called to play on that stage, it's on a par with being asked to play for England and you should really honour it, have the commitment and give it everything you've got. I'm 54 now, and I'm never going to look a gift horse in the mouth again."

Had you always wanted to return at some point?
"I'd always wanted to go back and I hoped that it would always be a possibility. Jackie Dobbs lived on. She was referred to every now and then, what with Tyrone being her son. If Tyrone [Alan Halsall] wasn't there, I wouldn't be going back! Thanks God for my 'son'! Not many actors leave a soap. I left and I thought I was going to get a long run of work. With my character being quite an explosive one, I was never going to go into the corner shop and ask Dev for a loaf. Characters like mine don't tend to survive long because they're wild, but she's brilliant to play."

Where's Jackie been?
"She's been doing time in a Spanish prison for robbing a pair of flip flops. Now that's class. Presumably she got out about nine months ago and she's been up to her old tricks in Spain. She's returned to Manchester now, though, and on the outside she's a reformed character. She's into yoga and natural living, but deep down, Jackie Dobbs is going to burst back out again. She's mellowed a little bit, though. I think it's the pink hair."

Where did the pink hair come from?
"I got carried away with myself! I had to re-audition for the part of Jackie - they wanted to see for themselves that I was on fighting form. They had the script ready for Jackie Dobbs, but they sent me the script for Auntie Pam. So when I read Auntie Pam, I thought she must have been Jackie Dobbs's sister. When they told me that it was Molly's auntie, I thought they were keeping Jackie in prison and the scripts would keep referring to her and instead, her sister turns up. So I dyed my hair pink to look a bit different. When I came up for the audition, I said to the producers 'I'm playing Jackie Dobbs's sister, aren't I?' They looked at each other gobsmacked and said 'what are you talking about?! No, it's Molly's Auntie Pam!' but I'd died my hair pink. They loved the pink hair, though. It's the type of pink where you wouldn't lose me in the snow."

What's Jackie doing back in Manchester?
"Jackie's minding this cat called Fat Madge - it's the biggest cat you've ever seen in your life. It's bred to be enormous - I think it's Norwegian. Jackie's old life comes back to bite her in the bum."

Did she at any point consider going to see Tyrone?
"That's a misgiving of Jackie. She's not the best mother in the world. Even though she's trying to spiritually develop herself, there is a side that's under-developed, a side that thinks only about herself. It makes the character interesting, though. I think that Jackie realises that Tyrone's going to do what she never did - that he's going to get it right first time. I think he'll stay with Molly - he's one of those lads that wants to correct what his mother's done. Mother and father split up, mother being with all kinds of fellas.I think that's how he wants to live - he's a one woman guy." Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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