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Tracy is rushed to hospital with a serious kidney infection, and she gets the wrong impression when Steve visits her. Kate Ford, who plays the belligerent Barlow, tells TV Choice more about her latest storyline, and explains the one quality she likes in her on-screen persona.
Before Tracy ends up in hospital, how does she manage to annoy saintly Emily?
Emily tries to help her. She’s spoken to someone at the church and they need help with the flowers at weddings. She says, ‘If you do well on the first one, more jobs could follow.’ Tracy’s really excited because she really does want a job. She likes to buy things and she doesn’t like having no money. But on the day she’s supposed to go she starts to feel ill again. She’s got this thing where she’s so tired — because she’s got the kidney problem — so she falls asleep on the sofa, and Emily comes back and just goes completely mad at her. So Emily throws her out of the house.
But she also damages the dancing shoes worn by Ernest, Emily’s deceased husband?
Oh yes, she’s tried to play a trick on Norris. She pours red paint into his shoes, and it can’t come off. But she doesn’t realise that they’re actually Ernest’s shoes, so she’s completely mortified, and Emily is like, ‘You know what, it’s not worked out — you’re going to have to leave.’
You’re the fourth actress to play Tracy. Is it strange taking on a role previously played by someone else?
Not really, because the character had been off screen for a while, and when you come back you can only really do your interpretation. They give you a pack about the history of the character, which is obviously relevant. They’re not going to completely change the character, and she’s always been trouble.
Have you ever met any of the other Tracys?
At the 50th anniversary, I met the girl who played the last Tracy, Dawn Acton, and she’s a really nice girl. We had a drink together and a little chat. It was great.
When you came into the show in 2002, did you expect her to turn into a murderess?
No [laughs] I didn’t know. I’ve played the character for 10 years now. All the characters have lots of different stages in their lives, with storylines and different things. That was when she sunk to her lowest. The whole thing with Charlie, she had become down, depressed and wasn’t thinking straight.
She’s predominantly nasty and manipulative, but does Tracy have any qualities that you’d like to have?
No, not really. Maybe it’s nice to have such confidence in your beliefs. She doesn’t really doubt herself, so that would be quite nice.
Do you do anything — like wear an item of clothing — to get yourself into character?
She wears a lot of red. I always feel very Tracy whenever she’s got red clothes on. She always wears hoop earrings and a lot of red — it’s her signature colour.
Is it strange to wear that colour in real life?
I do avoid red. However, I’m on a mission to buy a red Maxi skirt today. So sometimes I do wear red.
Steve is obviously developing affection for Michelle. What do you think about that?
You know what always makes me laugh is that Steve always has two women fighting over him — all the time, in his whole life!
Could Steve ever settle down with Tracy?
Oh, he can’t bear her. I mean, he loves her on some level. But she’s just too much of a headache for him. She’s crossed the line.
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