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Michael Starke

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Michael Starke
Most famous for his role as Brookside's Thomas 'Sinbad' Sweeney, actor Mickey Starke joins the cast of Coronation Street next week as Jerry Morton, head of Weatherfield's latest family.

Digital Spy caught up with the 49-year-old actor at the launch of the clan to chat about his character, the family's murkey past and what it's like to be working on one of the world's most famous streets.

What's Jerry like?
"How can I describe him? He's lovable, in charge of his family, an all-round family man. His kids are the be-all-and-end-all and he'll do anything to support them and keep them going. He has his own set of morals in that respect."

So the kids come first?
"Absolutely. He's a charmer, very different from anything I've done before. He's not a put upon character, anyway, he's a go-getter. He thinks he's a lot younger than he is and he's got an idea of himself that no one else has - that's his talent, he uses it to the best of his ability."

He flirts with Helen and Gail first doesn't he?
"Everybody. He'll probably end up flirting with Ashley as well! He's concerned with getting the clients out into his shop at the moment, so he's making sure they come and have a kebab in his shop. Yeah."

Do you think he wants to find love?
"He's probably shell-shocked, because apparently he was a bit stormy with his wife - she's gone off, he had an affair with his best friend, and I think the result of that was the little boy Finlay, so I think he's had enough of women, long term. It'll just be one night stands, every night. God help them."

Have you always wanted to be in Corrie?
"Always been a fan, it's been a part of everybody's lives. I've got so many friends that have done it - I never really thought I would. When the opportunity came up, I thought 'wow'. At this stage in my career, it's just a dream. Every day I come in, it's hitting me more just how big it is.

How different is Corrie to Brookside and The Royal to work on?
"Totally different. Just in terms of work, the schedule's faster, the turnover's much quicker. On The Royal, we shoot six months of the year, so there's a lot of luxury in that. Rehearse, record.

"Now, there's no sort of rehearsal any more. You've got to learn your lines and come on set and then they'll say 'you're there, you're there' and you end up where they say and do it. Gone are the days when you could have two days' rehearsal - you can't do that now. Directors are so good at it nowadays they do most of the work for you."

Will you miss The Royal?
"I will, yeah. It's funny, that, because I remember when the producer told me we were doing all the exteriors in Scarborough. I thought 'Scarborough? All the way up there?' I'd never been and they said 'you'll love it' and of course I did. It was like having a few days at the seaside, then we'd end up filming. I miss that. And my friends on The Royal - they're the best friends in the world.

Do you think you'll ever shake off Sinbad?
"I don't know, I don't care. It's not going to really affect what I do here. It's funny, it's probably unique in that way that there aren't many people who cross over and do such identifiable characters. I know a lot of people who've done both soaps, but it'll be interesting to see - there'll be people who just want to take the mick and call me 'Jerbad' or 'Sirry'.

"I don't know what to expect to be honest, this show is so massive it'll probably swallow up anything else. Sinbad was such a popular character - often, we say 'only five-million people watched Brookside', and I've met every one, because everywhere I go, people go 'alright, Sin'. The Royal gets three times as many viewers, but I think people think Sinbad went into The Royal! It'll be nice getting a lot of Michaels and Mr Starkes!"

Let's hope Jerry gets the same notoriety!
"That'd be nice, you know, to become one of the giants of the programme. You always feel... anyone who comes in late, you do feel like you might not match up to those who went before, but this programme is probably as big as it's ever been."

Who was your first scene with?
"First scene was with Helen Worth in the back garden. She was absolutely lovely - she was right in the middle of a heavy schedule, no time for the real niceties other than 'hi, how are you', 'you know thingie and that'. Action!

"And then she's running off. It was only after a couple of days that we had time in the green room to say hiya properly. So it's a bit daunting, because you're landing feet first."

Would you consider reality singing programmes such as 'Soapstar Superstar'?
"I did Stars In Their Eyes a few years ago. I never say never - just go along with the flow. I think those kinds of things are good because, for the younger kids, it gives them a chance to show that they can [do other things]. They get knocked for it, press say 'another Soapstar Superstar', but the fact is that most actors these days are that talented.

"At the Everyman [theatre] we had to play two instruments and sing, otherwise you weren't cast. I play guitar, bit of bongos, percussion too - you can bluff your way through that. You had to have that under your belt [back then]."

Have you always been someone who likes public attention when you're out and about?
"I try to be as nice to the public as I can. The public attention is nice when someone comes up to you and says 'you're the most gorgeous man I've ever seen, I love everything you do, you're the best actor ever' - which [doesn't] happen every day!

"I've been lucky that people have liked the characters I've done. I've seen the other side of it - the nicest people I know have played baddies, and you can't go out the door."

Is Jerry harbouring any secrets when he comes?
"I hope so."

He has an ex-wife doesn't he? What's she like?
"Yeh, she's dog-rough, apparently. Kicks up a bit of a fuss. I think there are men in with a chance."

The history between the the pair plays out on-screen, then?
"It probably all plays out in one episode with screaming! There's a lot of friction. She's in for a couple of episodes, to get the kids into the show, especially little Finlay. If she's a hit, [I'm sure] she'll come back. That's the great thing about characters with history, you can do anything.

"I used to be worried about it, thinking 'what am I going to be doing next week?', but you've got to realise that's part of it. They say 'these characters are organic and the storylines are organic', but it's true. And that's part of the cycle I'd forgotten about. You don't know where you're going to be next year."

You've clearly got the enthusiasm back for soaps.
"I pinch myself every morning. I think how many people would like to be playing my character? I'm the luckiest actor I know."

For some it just becomes a job, doesn't it?
"I think if it became that way it would be 'in the trough and I'm off', I think we're just so lucky. Most actors just want to act and, to get a chance to act every day, you can get trapped in the same character day after day. That happened a little bit with Brookie. I got tired of it. I thought 'I don't want to do this any more'.

"The Royal was such a change, as well, because I just stood there with my hands in my pockets and shouted at Lizzie! I was watching an episode of it the other week and I was up a stepladder changing a bulb - and I couldn't remember doing it! The new series airs at the end of this month."

Who does Jerry make friends with in the Rovers?
"I think he'll probably be one of those fellers who'll ingratiate himself with everybody. He'll look for the person he can take most advantage of."

As the business owner, why does Jerry think it's going to be a success when looking at the failure of Diggory's fast-food venture?
"He has the X Factor... He's the reason it'll be a success. If it fails, it'll Jodie's and the kids' fault!"

Does the family have quite a bit of money?
"He's got money. He's one of the guys who's always got a wodge of ready cash. No wallet, just a wodge. Everything's cash, no receipts, he just reels off the notes. If the kids want anything, he's 'bang bang bang'. He's always done that."

Are the kids spoiled?
"A little bit. As I say, he has got his own set of morals. He does keep them in line, but they're very strong-willed characters as well. The strength of the family is that they're very strong-minded characters, and Jerry tries to keep a rein on them all, but they're just running away with it.

"Jess [Barden], who plays Kayleigh, is terrific and there's something in her eyes - when you watch her it's like... she [does] it so well, it's like my kids doing it to me. Jerry's ultimately a pushover if the kids want anything, because he's a sucker for a sob story!"

Thanks for chatting, Michael!

Check back on Monday, March 12 to read our interview with Samantha Seager - the eldest Morton Sibling, Jodie. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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