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Craig Gazey (Graeme Proctor, Corrie)

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Craig Gazey (Graeme Proctor, Corrie)
Coronation Street's relative newcomer Craig Gazey returned to our screens last week as 'eccentric mentalist' Graeme Proctor. Viewers will recognise the 26-year-old Oldham actor as David Platt's (Jack P. Shepherd) cellmate from earlier in the year when David spent time a Young Offenders' Institute at Her Majesty's pleasure. Next week, Graeme joins David and Tina (Michelle Keegan) as they wreck the Windass family's kitchen. Yesterday, we caught up with Craig for his first interview since joining Corrie to chat about his acting career, his character, and potential on-screen love interests.

You've had some fantastic acting experience already with the Royal Shakespeare Company, haven't you?
"Yeah, it's great grounding - a fantastic place to start. I've done the Globe Theatre and the Royal Court. What's great for me is being able to be all-encompassing and having an eclectic mix of work. It's amazing to go from something like the RSC to Coronation Street."

What made you turn to soap?
"It found me, really. The thing about me is, being a Northern lad, Corrie's always a benchmark of success. I started acting when I was five - not professionally - but everyone, when I was a kid, was always asking 'when are we going to see you on Corrie?' And here I am."

How did the part originally come about?
"It was just the normal audition process. They didn't give me the script until the day, so I grabbed a coffee and digested it. Then I was given a breakdown of the character. The funny thing is that I didn't really know who or what Graeme was. I don't think they quite knew at the beginning either. In the first few scenes, it seemed that Graeme was going to victimise David [Platt in the Young Offenders' Institute] and I even thought he was going to be a bad bully. But then as time went on and I started to read more scenes, I started to realise that they were going to become good mates. And that's good for me because there's more mileage in the character!"

How would you describe Graeme?
"He's a bit of a mentalist. I'd say he was eccentric, too. I call him a fantasising scally. He's always going off on these little rants. He's quite switched on, though. Just a bit mad and playful."

Did you always know that you were going to return at some point beyond Graeme's release?
"No, I didn't. It was never on the cards, but everyone was so supportive of me and my character. On my last day of filming of my first ever block, the crew gave me a clap to say goodbye and they all said 'goodbye Craig', while a couple of them added 'for now' on the end."

How have you settled back in? What's it like working with Jack P. Shepherd and Michelle Keegan?
"It's great. I get on really well with the pair of them. Obviously I didn't work with any of the other actors when I first appeared, only Jack and a couple of times with Michelle. It's still all quite new to me, but with Corrie, it's like a fast train that you have to jump on the back of and ride it."

And you're heavily involved in the Windass storyline. What are they all like?
"I've just moved in with Mikey [North], who plays Gary Windass, so we're really good pals in real life. To be honest, apart from the storylines coming up with the kitchen and car, I don't really have much more to do with the family. They're a really interesting group of characters, though, who'll be causing a lot of trouble."

Are you in Corrie long-term?
"Yeah, I'm here for as long as they'll have me!"

If Graeme could embark on a relationship with anyone on the Cobbles, who would you see him with?
"That's a good question, that. In a non-sexual way, I'd like to see him in some scenes with Becky. They might be too alike, but I think they'd have some great fun. As for a relationship, I think that Sophie [Webster] is brilliant, played by Brooke Vincent. Sophie can be quite gobby and I think she'd give him a run for his money. I'm not sure if she's a bit young, though! At the moment, I'm having lots of first scenes in different places, so it's like they're dangling me over people to see who Graeme fits with."

What's to come for Graeme in 2009?
"I honestly don't know. That's what I enjoy, though. They're keeping me on my toes that way."

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