How would you describe Gary's Army Diaries to someone who hadn't yet seen or heard about it?
"Basically, Gary and Quinny recorded their time in Afghanistan on a little handheld camcorder, so we see that footage and it runs in parallel to the main show. It gives a big insight into what happened in Afghanistan and Gary and Quinny's relationship."
How did you feel about getting your own spinoff show?
"Having Corrie taking so much time over a little spinoff has never been done before, so to be the first to do it is a real privilege. I just hope that we've done it justice and it paves the way for more exclusive content."
Gary's Army Diaries was filmed in the UK but looks very realistic in terms of showing us Afghanistan. How did the team make it look so real?
"It was filmed at a quarry in Bolton - and it was absolutely freezing, actually, so pretending to be in 40 degree heat was a bit difficult! (Laughs) But we just had good guys shooting it, really, and they've put a lot of effects in at the post-production stage. I think it does look fairly realistic - you watch it and you believe that we were there. I think that the technical director has done a really good job with that."
"Definitely, yeah! There's been a lot of good feedback - people think that we actually went over there! That's really good considering that we only shot it over a couple of days and on quite a low budget. We've done really well with that, I think."
Gary's army storyline has been very well-researched, but did you have to do any particular research for the Army Diaries scenes?
"With the spinoff, it was more a case of taking advice on set, and we just had to trust the director and the producers and what they wanted. Obviously we were trying to portray what it's like in the barracks, so the writer - Damon Rochefort - took a lot of advice on what it would be like to be over there and what would be realistic. I think Damon looked into that more than we did, but I did my own research for the main show and that definitely helped for the spinoff."
You had to portray quite a wide range of emotions in Army Diaries - was that challenging?
"It was a challenge, but it was really good as well - getting to show that wide range of emotions was great. You do see the lads having a laugh, so when Quinny does die, that only adds to the heartbreak. It was definitely nice to show those different emotions over quite a short period of time. Gary's Army Diaries was shown in three parts online, and I thought each episode was quite different, which was nice - it wasn't 'same old, same old' every episode."
Do you have a favourite scene from the series?
"Watching it back afterwards, I laughed when Gary smacked Quinny with the towel and he starts crying in the bed! I love that bit, along with the bit where they have to strip while playing pool. The pool bit makes me laugh because me and Steve, who plays Quinny, are quite good friends in real life and we play a bit of pool together. The writer knew this, and he put in that I got beat, which was nice of him! (Laughs)"
"Yeah, definitely! It had so many hits - I think how popular it's been took everyone by surprise. It's really nice that they're now transferring it over to ITV2. I think it's a lot different from the main show - it looks and feels a bit different to Corrie, and people believed that we actually were in Afghanistan, so hopefully all that will draw in the viewers. We're all really proud of it."
For those of us who've already seen Army Diaries online, is it still worth us watching the ITV2 version?
"Definitely! We're going to add some additional scenes to it and extend it into one show. There'll be a lot of additional content to make it into a half-hour show. Those extra scenes will be between me and Izzy - you'll see us in Izzy's flat together."
Corrie has been providing a lot of this additional online content recently, and there's more on the way with the Ken and Deirdre spinoff. Do you think it's nice that they're providing all of these extras for the fans?
"Yeah, I think it's the way forward. I think things will move online a lot more now, and over the next ten years you'll see a lot more of this content. It's great that Corrie is keeping up with that, pioneering it and doing it on a regular basis. I think it'll really take off!"
> Click here to read more from Mikey North in Soap Scoop
Corrie Extra: Gary's Army Diaries airs on Monday, January 31 at 10pm on ITV2.