I get typecast as a prostitute or drug addict but I don’t care, says Coronation Street's Sally Carman

SHE prides herself on looking her best for TV auditions, yet actress Sally Carman always ends up landing the down-and-out role.

First it was heroin user Kelly Maguire in Shameless and now she plays loud-mouthed recovering drug addict Abi Franklin in Coronation Street.

Thankfully, Sally isn’t concerned about being pigeon-holed and says she loves the grittier parts.

It is a big week for Abi as she comes to terms with the death of her son Seb at the hands of a gang, as part of the soap’s hate crime storyline.

In an exclusive interview, Sally, 40, said: “I always go to TV interviews with my hair done, my make-up done and wearing really nice clothes and they go, ‘There we go, she’s the prostitute’, or ‘That’s the woman with the drug problem’.

“People love to cast me as the down-and-out, but it doesn’t bother me, they’re the best parts to play anyway. Some actors say they don’t want to be pigeon-holed, but for me that ship has sailed.

“I remember they put character breakdowns on screen for the visually impaired and one of the descriptions of Abi was, ‘She’s got very dirty blonde, greasy hair’. I actually wash it every day! You can’t have an ego in this job.

“But I’m all right with it and I’ve done various different characters in theatre. I played a posh MP, I’ve done Shakespeare and for years my bread and butter was radio plays.”

Since her arrival on the cobbles in 2017 viewers have seen Abi overdose on heroin, lose custody of her twins because of her chaotic lifestyle, become homeless and endure a spell in prison.

In the past year she has put her life back together, finding love with garage mechanic Kevin Webster, played by Michael Le Vell, and becoming closer to her son Seb, which makes his murder all the more tragic.

Viewers watched in horror last week as Seb, played by Harry Visinoni, and his girlfriend Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) were attacked by youths because she dresses as a goth.

Seb died from his injuries in Friday’s epsiode and Abi broke down in tears as she said goodbye to her son.

Harry revealed he cried after filming the heartbreaking scene.

The plot was inspired by the tragedy of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was beaten to death by two thugs in 2007 because of the way she looked.

She had been trying to protect her boyfriend Robert, who was also being attacked.

‘WHEN YOU'RE AN ACTOR YOU WANT THE MEATY STUFF’

Coronation Street worked with Sophie’s mum, Sylvia Lancaster, who set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in memory of her daughter to promote tolerance and acceptance of others. Sally says she hopes the storyline will help the cause.

The actress said: “When you’re an actor you want the meaty stuff. You want to be able to really get your teeth into something, whether it’s comedy or tragedy, because it’s daunting and you want to do it right.

“When it does go right there’s nothing like it, because that’s when you’re reaching out to people who may be going through something similar.”

Sally had dreamed of landing a role on Coronation Street since she first watched the soap as a child in Mexborough, South Yorks.

The famous 1989 episodes in which abusive Alan Bradley was killed by a Blackpool tram as he chased Rita got her hooked on the idea of acting.

She said: “I remember watching Barbara Knox do the Alan Bradley tram storyline and Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch, sitting at a table in the Rovers crying and smoking a fag. I thought, ‘I want to do that’.

“My mum was a housewife and then a care assistant and my dad was a miner, but they were 100 per cent supportive.

“I didn’t do drama classes or even take drama at school. I did a BTEC in Performing Arts but I got kicked off because I was never there.

“I was in a band, so I was out gigging and drinking far too much.

“My dad did the reverse psychology thing. He said, ‘You’re not going to do this acting lark are you?’ So I went off and applied to drama school and I got into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

“I couldn’t have done it without my parents. They were absolutely brilliant. My dad even took on extra shifts to pay for it, because I didn’t get a grant. It was a lot of money to find and he worked around the clock so I could go. I’ll never forget that.”

Not only has she landed her dream job but also her dream man in co-star Joe Duttine, 50, who plays cab boss Tim Metcalfe.

The pair got engaged last year during lockdown and Sally is now a step-mum to his two children.

Smiling, she said: “Coronation Street has completely changed my life, I feel really settled.

“I’ve got myself a fiancé, I’ve moved house, and I’ve got a family and brilliant friends.

“Before Corrie my life was about the next job. Now I’m at an age where I’ve pretty much done everything I want to do and this is a job where I get to do different storylines and hang out with good friends at work.

“Then I come home to my nice house and my family.

“I feel like I’m putting roots down for the first time in my life.”

While filming Shameless she discovered and studied Reiki, a Japanese form of alternative medicine using “energy healing”. And she has recently found God.

Sally got baptised two years ago in the same church she and Joe plan to marry next year. She credits her faith with helping her find contentment.

She said: “It was something I came to later in life. It came out of me practising Reiki. Reiki works, but it was an energy I didn’t like in the end and I ended up finding God.

‘I HATE WORKING WITH MY FIANCE’

“It’s about loving people and forgiving and moving on and letting go of what’s gone, because you can’t change it.

“It’s about being a source of good. I’ve got a peace that surpasses all understanding.

“It’s easier to be less caught up in your own issues when you feel like that.”

Despite being happy in her work and home life, Sally does admit she prefers not to do scenes with her future husband.

She explained: “I hate working with him. He’s a rotten man to work with because he makes me laugh to the point where I get that sweaty feeling because I can’t get a grip.

“It’s painful. I’ll have gritted teeth and go, ‘Stop it!’, and he’ll say, ‘I’m not doing anything’.

“If I never have a scene with him again I’ll be all right with that.”

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