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THERE was no going back for Katie McGlynn when she bid ta-ra to Coronation Street in October 2019, after six years on the cobbles.
As viewers dried their tears following her harrowing exit story line, which saw her character, Sinead Osbourne, die from cervical cancer, Katie threw herself into auditions.
Katie McGlynn has opened up about the toughest year of her careerCredit: Mark Hayman
She swiftly landed a part in BBC1 drama The Syndicate and there were promising conversations about another new show. The soap-quitting gamble, it seemed, was paying off.
Then came Covid-19. With filming impossible under social-distancing rules, the television industry ground to a halt, casting a shadow over Katie’s vision for a glittering post-Corrie first year.
“I put all my energy into the universe, expecting amazing big things, and then it all backfired,” says Katie, 27. “All production had to stop. Everything’s stalling, even now.”
AM I GOOD ENOUGH?’
Almost a year on, with very little having changed, the Rochdale-born actress admits she’s suffered a crisis of confidence.
“It’s disheartening, and over the past 12 months I’ve been very up and down.
“I’m quite a positive person, I’m someone who tries to bring everybody up, but I have moments where I’m like: ‘What am I doing? Why have I chosen this career? Am I even good enough? Is it me? Am I just not cut out for this career?’”
The actress, 27, suffered a crisis of confidence after Covid put everything on holdCredit: Mark Hayman
At the start of the first lockdown last March, Katie says she “secretly enjoyed” being work-free, following a gruelling Corrie filming schedule and a busy stint in panto, playing Tinker Bell in Peter Pan.
“I made a lot of banana bread at first, I chilled out, ate what I wanted, watched Netflix and enjoyed not wearing make-up,” she smiles.
“Then after a month, I was like: ‘Right, is this over now? I want to get back to work.’ And it just never stopped.”
I put all my energy into the universe, expecting amazing big things, and then it all backfired.
Not that Katie is at all remorseful about kicking off her Corrie comfort blanket, even in the face of these unprecedented times.
“With the pandemic, it was probably the worst time I could have chosen to leave, but in life, if you want to do something at that moment, you need to act on it,” she says.
“I would have regretted not leaving more than taking a chance. It’s sad that I can’t go back, but I don’t regret my decision. I’ve been talking to people who are still there and from what they’ve told me, filming the way it is is weird.
In 2019, Katie quit Coronation Street after six years on the showCredit: Shutterstock
“They’re just getting on with it, but it’s not the same. I think I’d be really sad if I was there. I like the memories of it being the same as what it was.”
In conversation over Zoom from her home in Manchester, Katie is quietly spoken, but as she warms up she’s an enthusiastic, amusing raconteur.
It goes a long way to explaining those pictures from the 2019 TV Choice Awards, in which she appeared to be tearing strips off Love Island star Maura Higgins, 30.
“I was cringing at them pictures because I do look really angry, but honestly, I’m just very animated when I’m telling a story. I get proper involved!” she laughs.
“I’d obviously had a couple of gins and I was telling them a story. It was all nonsense! Maura and I are not best mates, but I’ve met her a few times and we get on. She’s a lovely girl.”
Katie is currently “single as a Pringle”, adding that there’s “not really” been any romance since she split from her last boyfriend, Benji Roberts, two years ago.
While her gamble initially seemed to be paying off, work soon came to a grinding haltCredit: Getty
But because of Covid and a personal objection to dating apps (“People think it’s someone impersonating me”), she has no choice but to sit tight for Mr Right.
“I’m going with the flow,” she says. “If I meet someone – amazing! But it’s a bit difficult right now, so I’m not on the hunt because I think it would be massively forced.”
When life returns to normal and social distancing ends, will Katie go hell for leather on the dating scene?
“Yeah, probably!” she chuckles, adding that first she urgently needs to reset her taste in men.
“My guilty pleasure is someone funny – the loud, fun one who actually turns out to be a bit of an idiot. I’m quite loud usually, and because my job’s a bit out-there, I think I need someone who’s more placid and chilled-out.”
After leaving ITV’s long-running soap, Katie threw herself into a gruelling 12-week body-transformation plan with one objective – to lose the stone she’d gained during her final few months of filming.
Katie admits it’s been a disheartening 12 months and says she’s been ‘very up and down’Credit: Mark Hayman
The 5ft 4in actress “shifted the weight and then some”, shedding over a stone and a half and dropping to 8st 8lb.
But the combination of an early 2020 holiday to Mexico, a pulled shoulder, lockdown gym closures and eating the wrong foods unravelled her good work.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare because I’ve been stop-starting weight training. I put some weight on, then I lost it, and then I put some on. I’m the kind of person that if I exercise, I’ll eat well.
“If I can’t exercise, I want crap. I’m just in the middle at the moment,” says Katie, adding that she first stopped training in early January last year after being “knocked for six” by a virus, which doctors blamed on exhaustion.
She was taken to A&E after blacking out following a panto performance and says she underestimated the physical impact her emotional Corrie departure story line would have on her.
“You’re crying constantly for the role and because of the emotional exhaustion, my body was exhausted. I didn’t think it would affect me that much, but it was a big thing, mentally, over 18 months.
But she insists she isn’t remorseful about kicking off her Corrie comfort blanketCredit: Mark Hayman
“After that, then doing the body transformation, and then doing the pantomime, it was rush, rush, rush. When my body had had enough, I fainted. It was quite scary.”
Happily, Katie is re-entering her fitness groove. As well as walking regularly, she exercises four times a week at home using the Courtney Black app, which she says “gets me motivated”.
Now, however, her goal is no longer aesthetic perfection, but overall health.
“I want to get my fitness up – it’s not about what size I am. The past 12 months have made me think all that stuff doesn’t really matter.”
Katie and her older triplet brothers were raised in Rochdale by parents Trevor, now 53, an engineering company director, and Ruth, 55, a stay-at-home mum.
She describes them as “close” and herself as “family-oriented”, yet feels zero pressure to start a family of her own.
Katie has kept busy in lockdown by raising money for charityCredit: Rex Features
“When I was younger, I thought I’d be married with kids by 30, and that’s just not happening,” she says.
“I’ve always focused on my career, but because of lockdown I’ve not been as busy as usual and it’s started me thinking: ‘What’s the other side of my life like?’
“In the future, I hope I get married and have kids and settle down, but I wouldn’t want kids now because I’m not ready.”
Last summer between lockdowns, Katie moved back to the family home in Rochdale for two months to soak up precious time with her parents, but things didn’t go as smoothly as planned.
When I was younger, I thought I’d be married with kids by 30, and that’s just not happening.
“I did really enjoy it, but I’m 27 years old and moving back in with your mum and dad is not ideal,” she says. “I love living on my own because I love not having to speak to anybody and just slobbing out in my own space.
Katie describes herself as “socially awkward”, but says she inherited “funny bones” from her dry-humoured dad, a talent she honed at school drama class by regularly doing comedy improvisations.
She became involved in cervical cancer awareness after filming Sinead’s heartbreaking story
Later this month, Katie will show off her wit on Channel 4’s Stand Up And Deliver, a two-part comedy series in support of Stand Up To Cancer 2021. It involved her being trained in the art of stand-up, before taking to the stage for a solo performance.
“It was so scary,” she says, lifting a Marilyn Monroe mug and taking a sip of oat-milk mocha through a big white straw.
“It’s one thing being with your friends who you can bounce off, but when you’re stood on your own with a microphone in front of loads of people, it’s completely different.”
Did she get some LOLs?
“I think I did. No, I did!” laughs Katie. “That was my main goal – to get people to laugh and raise money for charity.”
In that department, Katie is well-versed. As a patron for Mummy’s Star, a charity that supports women diagnosed with cancer in or around pregnancy, which she got involved with during her final months on Corrie, she has since raised funds by selling £100-a-pop video messages, auctioning off dresses and taking part in Celebrity Catchphrase.
She has also been focusing on her health – but says ‘it’s not about what size I am’Credit: Rex Features
In January, in support of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, Katie also agreed to have a smear test live on ITV’s Lorraine, to encourage women and girls to press ahead with their screenings during the pandemic.
More than 12 months after quitting Corrie, Katie still receives messages from fans who decided to have a smear test after sitting through Sinead’s heartbreaking story.
“I’m flabbergasted,” she says. “I’ve had so many messages from women saying doctors found cancerous cells and now they’re in the all-clear.
“Then you have other messages that are really sad, [saying] they’d gone for a smear and the cancer is terminal.
“The difference of even two weeks can save your life if you go for your smear. You need to go.”
Katie joined the Carol Godby Theatre Workshop in Bury aged seven, to combat shyness, and was planning an English literature and media studies degree when she joined the cast of Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On at the age of 16.
Now Katie is looking to the future and says she isn’t afraid to dream bigCredit: katiexmcglynn/Instagram
A year later, she moved on to BBC1’s Waterloo Road and in 2013 won the part of Sinead in Corrie.
The soap has produced a conveyor belt of actresses who have gone on to achieve mammoth telly success – think Katherine Kelly (Becky McDonald), Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre) and Sarah Lancashire (Raquel Watts).
The difference of even two weeks can save your life if you go for your smear. You need to go.
And while Katie worries that she won’t be taken seriously as a non-soap actress (“That’s always going to be a fear, because it does happen”), she isn’t afraid to dream big.
“I’m obsessed with films, so I’d love to do a movie or a funky series on Netflix – one that’s a bit different, like Black Mirror.
“I’d love the period stuff as well. I look a bit bonkers now” – she runs a hand through her new semi-permanent pastel-pink hair – “but I always get told I’d be good in period dramas because of my broad accent as well.”
Before filming finally began on The Syndicate last year, Katie messaged her former Corrie co-star Kym Marsh, who also stars in the Kay-Mellor-created drama series.
In the make-up chair with Katie
Do you have any skincare heroes?
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado – It’s super-luscious.
What are your make-up bag essentials?
Benefit They’re Real! Mascara, Carmex Cherry Lip Balm and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil.
Tom Ford Shade And Illuminate, as it’s great for contouring and sits nicely on the skin.
Best beauty bargain?
Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder. It’s good for keeping a shine-free face on the red carpet.
What’s your top beauty hack?
It’s boring, but you need to take your make-up off every night. Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is my go-to.
Describe your beauty evolution?
I used to pile make-up on. Now, my look is more simple. It’s a luxury for a night out.
“It’s sad, because I didn’t get to see her. Because of Covid, everything was very regimented, so you couldn’t mix with people who weren’t in your scenes.
“It’s very daunting working with new people, especially because they had already started filming when I joined, so I felt like the new girl at school. I was quite nervous, but Kym just said: ‘Enjoy it.’
“I’ve just got to think I’m really fortunate, because I actually did work last year, whereas some people haven’t done anything. I’ve just got to count my lucky stars.”
- Watch Katie on Channel 4’s Stand Up And Deliver for Stand Up To Cancer, and in BBC1’s The Syndicate next month.
- Katie wears: T-shirt, Goldsmith Vintage; bralette, Isawitfirst.com; skirt, Boohoo.com; necklace, Soru; boots, Dr Martens. T-shirt, Flo & Sang; sunglasses, Boohoo.com
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