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Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole, Corrie)

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Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole, Corrie)
Coronation Street's Norris Cole is about to be dealt a tragic blow when he receives the news of his half-brother Ramsay's (Andrew Sachs) death. Over the last three months, Norris - played by 69-year-old Malcolm Hebden - has spurned Ramsay's attempts to build bridges following their mother Eunice's passing, which Norris blames him for. Meanwhile, Emily (Eileen Derbyshire) has fallen for Ramsay's charms in a big way, so his departure and sudden death knocks her for six. Here, DS chats to Malcolm about his latest storyline, Norris's emotional side, reality TV and a potential return for Patty Clare as Mary.

What's it been like working with Andrew Sachs for the past few months?
"It was suggested two or three years ago that Andrew Sachs wanted to be my brother and because we had a change of perhaps two producers in that time, it just got lost in the hundreds of storylines we have. I was talking to our new producer Kim Crowther and said I thought it was a great shame we'd never picked up the Andrew Sachs stuff and she knew nothing of it. She thought it was a great idea and she made it happen. Andrew was very happy to do it.

"I had met Andrew once before and he expressed how keen he was to do it. We got on terribly well. I think it took him a little while to get used to my sense of humour but he did by the time he left! For me, the storyline kicks in once he's dead - that sounds awful - but I was just being dismissive and blocking Ramsay for the first part of the story. I just didn't want anything to do with him. Then Ramsay goes back to Australia and dies on the aeroplane but the fallout is enormous - not just for Norris, but particularly for Emily. She'd become quite fond of Ramsay. He's a civilised man and quite a charming character, whereas Norris isn't. Therefore, I'm going to be terribly unpopular for a little while until Norris realises that he was wrong."

What happens to Norris on the morning of the Charity Fete?
"They've done it terribly well. There's this fun street party going on outside and Norris gets a visit from the police and you don't actually see the police tell him why they're there. So for quite a while, you don't know what he's been told and then it's revealed that Ramsay died on the plane back to Australia. It's later revealed that he died of a brain tumour which he knew he had when he came over here so it makes it even more poignant that Norris totally rejected him."

We'll finally get to see the emotional side of Norris, too, when he visits his mother's grave…
"That's the difficulty for an actor. Norris is so irritating. He blows with the wind - he can behave quite sensibly and then just turn the whole thing upside down. I'm a little bit concerned about him. I haven't seen any of it but that emotional stuff becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. It's just making sure that it's still Norris, though, and ensuring I haven't delved into Chekov's Three Sisters or something. I shall still look like a bald dwarf, I know, and sound the same. We've never seen it before in him. From my point of view, it's more interesting to play - to drop the comedy and go for his actual emotions and feelings. I just hope that Norris is still in there somewhere."

Do you hope Norris will find love again?
"No - he's been married twice and badly scarred on both occasions. To marry Rita would just finish him off. He carries a flame for her but I don't think that will ever happen in terms of soap. The relationship works as it is. There's a few surprises there to come, though."

Apparently there are rumours that Pattie Clare's returning as Mary…
"Yes - Pattie Clare stayed with me the other weekend - and don't read anything into that! She has a big theatre background - many years at Glasgow Citizens Theatre - and we have a lot of friends in common so we've got on terribly well. I think she's really rather special and I certainly have to up my game when I'm working with her!"

What do you enjoy watching on TV when you're not working?
"I enjoy Dragons' Den, Antiques Roadshow and - it's a terrible confession - but I do tend to watch the talent programmes as well. Britain's Got Talent and that sort of thing. I'm not particularly proud of it but I do watch them. I always hope we'll discover someone really, really special. It's very hard to get into the business at all - there isn't the work - and I hope that one day (we haven't done it yet) there will be someone out there and I'll be there when they discover them. I've given up on America's Got Talent with that 4-year-old child on there - that's just obscene. It's just building up for disappointment. She's not going to get a million dollars, she can't work in Vegas, she's just a very sweet child. She will get over the disappointment - we all have - but I think it's just a shame."

Would you ever do a reality show?
"I might have done Strictly Come Dancing at one time but my body's not up to it. That's the only one I would have done - none of the others. I have danced a bit - I used to be able to do that sort of thing but the physicality of it... I did the charity one two or three years ago and that nearly finished me off. Physically it's just very, very demanding."

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