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Soaps Interview

Craig Kelly (Luke Strong, Corrie)

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Craig Kelly (Luke Strong, Corrie)
If the dramatic departure of Carla Gordon (Alison King) last week wasn't enough for Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien), his life is about to become even more complicated when his estranged wife sends a shock from afar to look after her business assets in the form of Luke Strong - a wealthy, ambitious and good looking Mancunian charmer played by Shipwrecked narrator Craig Kelly. Here, we chat to Craig about his character's personality, his back story, how Luke knows Carla and how he arrives on Britain's most famous cobbles.

How did the role in Coronation Street come about?
"It literally started with a phone call from the producers and it went from there. It any other soap had called, I'd have probably said 'no'. Because it was Corrie and the breakdown of the character was so fantastic, I just thought to myself 'why not?!' I met the team and was offered the part. I instinctively knew that this was for me. Even though it's a big step and a change of direction for me, it's still acting and I'm still getting paid for what I love doing. It's all exciting and quite surreal, especially when you walk onto the Street for the first time. I've never played a character that's as similar to me as Luke is, before. I've only really ever played psychotic transsexuals or gay men that are like door mats. They've been very varied character roles and it's rare that such a fun role as Luke comes up."

How would you describe your character?
"Luke is a likeable character who's got ambition and has achieved success through his wit, charm and instinct. He dresses well and likes a laugh and a flirt with the girls, but can handle himself well. He's not a guy who wants to go to war with someone, but if push comes to shove, he'll have it. Really, he just wants to do well in his life. He sees his life as a bit of an adventure. I like to call him a well-rounded entrepreneur who has his thumbs in a lot of different pies."

How do the characters on the Street receive him?
"When Luke turns up on the Street, you can tell immediately that he's different to Tony and the factory girls think he's great. He goes on a charm offensive with them and doesn't play the big boss role. He has a great, infectious energy - so much so that I did say to Kim [Crowther] 'you're not going to turn him into a psycho, are you?' She said 'no', so I was pleased! Sometimes in soap, characters can be too good to be true, so I think it's time for a hero to waltz in and give the bad guy a run for his money."

How does Carla know him?
"Basically, they were mates years ago. Paul Connor was the guy who took Luke under his wing. Luke's history has more than likely seen him in trouble with the police or in prison - that was the wake up call for him and on his release, he resolved to turn his life around. He's kind of a bad boy gone good in a strange way. He got his break through Paul, who taught him so well. Luke became better at the job that Paul, which caused a rift. Carla's not seen Luke for about five to seven years. Despite that, what's intriguing is that she calls on Luke to take on Tony and unsettle him. Luke's a strong character and Tony doesn't like him in the slightest. He can't quite work him out."

How does he turn up in Weatherfield?
"He just walks into the factory and tells Tony that he's been hired by Carla to take over management of her share of the company. Bosh. It's a great entrance and I think it's quite a statement about the character from the off."

Does he have money?
"Yeah, he's done well. He's probably not as loaded as he likes to make out, but he's clever enough to be a bit of a showman and keep his cards close to his chest. He's got life experience, too. He's probably just on the right side of arrogant - he's confident and believes in himself. Centered is probably the word."

What's Tony's reaction?
"Tony hates Luke being there, but realises that he's going to have to get used to it because he knows Luke's the real deal and a match for him. Tony probably starts plotting from the off as to how he could get rid of him. Equally, Luke probably makes out that he trusts Tony more than he does. It's a game of cat and mouse. "

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