Former Corrie actress Wendi Peters talks to Laura Wild about her return to her home region with latest show
She’s best known for playing Cilla Battersby in Coronation Street, but before she took up the role Wendi Peters had worked in theatre for more than a decade.
Wendi admits that being back on stage for Northern Broadsides show Rutherford & Son is like returning to her roots.
But that she hasn’t ruled out a return to the cobbles.
“This is like me going home, she says, “Like me going back to my roots. I trained mainly in theatre, in musicals and in comedy and drama. I worked in the theatre for 15 years before I got Corrie.
“So its a bit like coming home.
“As much as I love doing telly there is nothing like having that live audience.
“It is one take if it is wrong it is wrong. If somebody forgets their lines you just make it up.”
Wendi plays Mrs Henderson in the production, which is touring the country and will come to The Dukes in Lancaster next week.
“She’s a widower but she likes the odd drink so she is the bit worse for wear drink wise and she is a bit of a battle axe – so it’s blooming typecasting again,” she jokes.
“She is a bit of a con artist this one. She is sticking up for her son.
“Her son has been accused of stealing money from the boss at the factory now we know he has stolen the money but she thinks she can try it on by trying to get the money back which wasn’t hers to start with.
“She takes on the manager of the factory who is the tyrant of the play.
“And she gives him a good run for his money so I get to do a lot of shouting and throwing a shawl around. It is good fun.”
She adds: “It is going really well. It has been received really well the audience seem to really understand it and get it.
“It is a great piece. It is beautifully written piece for an old piece that hasn’t been done very often.
“They really have received it well, had a good laugh at it and lots of gasps. It is great. It is wonderful to hear their reaction.”
Wendi, originally from Clitheroe, but now living in Hertfordshire is looking forward to being on home soil and the tour has given her a chance to catch up with the family.
“It is going to be really lovely,” she says, “I have never played the Dukes and to be honest I don’t know Lancaster very well.
“I think the last time I went was on a school trip that’s a long time ago.
“Mainly from where I live you tend to go to Manchester but you forget there’s great theatres everywhere in Lancashire.”
Wendi is a lover of both the stage and the screen, but says she doesn’t really prefer one over the other.
“I’m one of those people who sits on the fence and says I like whatever I’m doing at the time,” she says.
“I love my whole day when I’m in theatre, I love the preparation up to the show.
“It is nice getting to the theatre and having a coffee and having a chat with everybody, there is a real sort of family feel about it. We are all thrown together on the one play. We are all travelling in the country so we have got to get on.
“There is just a real family atmosphere about it so that is nice.”
But she confesses being away from home can be difficult.
“That is a bit of downside of my theatre work sometimes.
“A lot of theatre work is out on tour and out around the country so I have to think about leaving the family but at least I know exactly where I am and what I am doing with this.
“We don’t work Sundays we don’t work Mondays I always get home on Saturday night and have a full two days at home before I leave off for the next place.
“It is not ideal. But it is my job and it has to be done.”
Although a return to Corrie isn’t on the cards just yet, it is a nice feeling for Cilla knowing the door isn’t closed for good.
“The nice thing I suppose is the character is not dead, she still has family connections there.
“I haven’t caught it these last couple of weeks, but I think my daughter is in trouble.
“There are connections there.
“Never say never. I may want to go back in a few years, I had such a great time there, but at the moment I’m having a lovely time doing lots of different things.”
And she is still in touch with the cast, in particular those who played her family.
“Sam that plays Chesney came to see White Christmas [at the Lowery] and Jenny who plays Fizz, she has opened an restaurant in Manchester called Annies so I went to the opening of that and met her and had dinner.
“Whenever I am in the Manchester area I always make sure we get together.”
So what is next? “I have no idea after this in June what is coming up. That to me is sometimes the nice thing about it. Things can change in a five minute phone call, I’ve done quite a bit of theatre in the last few years so maybe it would be nice to go and some more telly and radio, we will see.
“It would be lovely to do some guest spots in some dramas or something.
“That would be great.”
Is there a particular programme she would like to perform in? “I suppose most actors would say Downton Abbey please or Mr Selfridge, there is nothing particular.
“I would love to do a costume drama or a period drama but not necessarily those two.
“Something very very different from my character in Corrie, I would love to play something that was very much more me and look completely different.”
Rutherford & Son runs from February 19-23 at The Dukes.
To book tickets priced £8-£18.50(concessions a further £2 off, excluding matinees), telephone The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org