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Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story
She made her name as Weatherfield’s mouthy Becky, but there’s been no rest for Katherine Kelly since she quit Coronation Street's cobbles in January. As well as doing a stint in theatre and filming lavish new drama Mr Selfridge, she pops up in a touching biopic about the late Kenny Everett, in which she plays the quirky star’s ex-wife, Lee.
Was it encouraging knowing that the real Lee approved of the casting of you and Oliver Lansley, who plays Kenny?
Yes, she said that Ollie was Kenny reincarnated. If she hadn’t approved there’s no way she would have held back, but she and her husband John said that we were their favourites from all the tapes that had been sent to them. To them this is a huge delight, it celebrates Kenny.
It must have been an interesting relationship to play out, as there are questions about them as a couple, with Kenny later coming out as gay…
He pursued her, and she absolutely thought he was gay, but he just surrounded her. Lee’s husband John said that if Kenny hadn’t been gay, they would have still been together, because they were soul mates. You fall in love with a person and this broaches loads of questions about sexuality. I just thought it was so interesting.
Do you even remember Kenny Everett from when he was on TV?
No, I’m too young. I’m the eldest of four, so I didn't even have older siblings who might have had his shows on. My first introduction to Kenny was through friends of mine who are now radio DJs, who just think he’s a God. So I did know about him in my later teens, but it was more from a radio perspective.
You’ve been really busy this year, but was it a hard decision to leave Corrie?
We’d done the 50th anniversary, and then six months into my contract they offered me another year and I just thought, ‘You know what, now feels like a good time to go, and do a bit of something else.’ In the end I had a year’s weaning process, and a year is a long time to get used to something.
You’ve got this big budget drama Mr Selfridge coming up. Is the weight of expectation on you stressful?
I don’t think like that. I’m quite down-to-earth. There’s bound to be something I do that people don’t like. When you choose to be varied, then people are going to say, ‘I preferred that…’ But it’s like when people say that about somebody’s outfit – you can’t wear the same thing every day, can you?
Do you feel very lucky that you have had so much work since leaving Coronation Street?
I think everyone who loves their job is very lucky, because you spend a lot of time doing your job, don’t you? But I’m a very hard worker. And in my experience you get out what you put in. I haven’t really felt under any pressure. I’ve had great support from everybody, but like I say, it doesn’t come for free – you’ve got to put the work in.
Graham Kibble-White & Tricia Martin