As bubbly Fiz Stape, actress Jennie McAlpine has been a regular on the Corrie cobbles for 17 years.
But soap fans saw a new side to the star when she jetted down under to take part in the latest series of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.
Now, after a short screen break, Jennie, 34, is back with a bang, as next week Fiz will discover partner Tyrone had a one-night stand with Gemma.
Here Jennie, who secretly tied the knot with Chris Farr in 2017, opens up about filming her catfight, being reunited with her son Albert, three, following her jungle stint and why, nearly two decades on, she still feels like a soap newcomer…
‘I’ve got renewed energy since coming back from the jungle even though I was deprived of food and sunlight! We had awful weather, but that was good as I’m a redhead.
And that’s one of the reasons, genuinely, that I thought I’d never do I’m a Celeb. But it feels so long ago now. At Corrie, we’ve got straight back in with a big storyline with lots of scenes – shouting at Tyrone, like I’ve never been away!’
‘In classic Coronation Street tradition, Fiz hates Gemma even more than she hates Tyrone and there’s a catfight with a difference! Chesney’s there, Rita’s there, Gemma’s obviously there, Fiz is there – Tyrone turns up, but it’s a bit late!
The damage is done. It’s a new type of catfight – one that’s not happened in Corrie before. It’s in two locations – it spills from one to another. It ends up on the street and was very fun to film!’
‘Would I like Fiz to get a new love interest? We have to have a bit of tit-for-tat, so I’ll speak to the casting department! We need someone new – nobody on the street. They’re all a bit damaged!’
‘I just met a new character on his first day, and he said, “Wow, you’ve been here 17 years!” And I said, “That’s nothing compared to Bill Roache [Ken Barlow], who’s been here 58 years!”
I’m a newcomer compared to that. I feel it – I know that sounds stupid, but I do. My favourite scenes are the ones with all of us in the house and there’s chaos – even though you don’t know what you’re going to get with small children!’
‘Mums stop me and want selfies because they know Fiz, but the kids are having a selfie with Jennie!
They have no idea who Fiz is – you’re not meant to be a Corrie fan when you’re six, are you? So now I sign my autograph in two ways – Jennie with Fiz in brackets and Jennie from the jungle.’
‘I think my co-star Alan [Halsall, who plays Tyrone] would be good in the jungle. He’d be brave doing the challenges, but I’m not sure he would cope with the boredom. It’s the worst thing – finding stuff to do and things to talk to people about.
You really don’t know who you’re going to get, or what they’re going to be like, but actually it was harmonious – apart from a couple of arguments about strawberries!
‘Did I surprise myself during the bushtucker trials? The challenges were not what I was scared of! People always say, “Oh, I couldn’t do that!” But that was not my biggest fear. I knew that being away from my little boy was going to be the hardest thing, and it was.’
‘Being reunited with Albert was absolutely incredible. When I was in the jungle I knew he’d be having an incredible holiday with his daddy, but it’s so hard to believe what you’re telling yourself.
When I came out, Albert told me what he’d been doing, including that he’d learned to swim! He was introducing me to people around the pool. They were saying, “Your Albert has been so entertaining.” So that was lovely.’
‘Dancing on Ice next? Most definitely not! You can put this on record. Ice-skating, no! We had the easy job for three weeks in that jungle. Ice-skating looks impossible and so scary. B
ut considering I’m the clumsiest person, I can’t believe I walked that plank! Afterwards I said to them, “You know, I’m not very good at walking!’’’
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