Interview: Jennie McAlpine

1:41pm Saturday 22nd December 2007

LIFE for a soap star might seem glamorous and plain sailing, especially at Christmas time, the highlight of the celebrity social calendar.

But for East Lancashire actress Jennie McAlpine, better known as Coronation Street's Fiz Brown, life has never been so hectic.

A huge storyline over the past few months has given a whole new meaning to the festive season for Jennie - and it's not an invitation to the best parties in town but getting a lie in that she is wishing for this year.

And the thing she is looking forward to most is being at home in Rossendale, sitting at the dinner table with a traditional Christmas meal cooked by her dad.

JENNIE McAlpine is no stranger to showbusiness.

When she was only 14 she performed in front of top media and TV bosses at London's famous Comedy Store for the final of the Fanta Comedian of 1998.

The 23-year-old went to St Gabriel's RC High School and trained at Carol Godby's Theatre Workshop, both in Bury, and since her early acting days she has rarely been out of work.

She made her small screen debut as Michelle Morley in Emmerdale before moving into Coronation Street as the livewire, happy-go-lucky loudmouth Fiz - Fiona Brown.

But this year has been a particularly busy one for the Lancashire lass and she just can't wait to have some time at home in Bacup for a quiet family Christmas.

Jennie plans to spend December 25 with her dad, who she says is a brilliant cook.

She added: "We have all the traditions that you don't really like, but that you're supposed to have at Christmas, like Brussels sprouts.

"Although we don't have cranberry sauce - I think that's a bit posh!

And not much more than stone's throw from her front door lives her on-screen brother, Chesney, played by Sam Aston - recently voted top of the public's guest list for a Christmas dinner invite.

Jennie is in need of a well-earned break after filming the storyline which sees her partner John having a torrid affair with schoolgirl Rosie.

On Christmas Day it all comes to a head.

Jennie herself will be watching Corrie and the Queen's speech, both something of a tradition for her family on Christmas Day.

Viewers will see the drama come to a head on Christmas Day, but Jennie certainly won't be working.

"They kindly give us a week or so off at Christmas," she says, adding: "But it doesn't mean we do fewer episodes, so in the run-up to Christmas we do loads more.

"It's pretty tough, but we have a laugh.

"It is a real privilege that Corrie have trusted us with the Christmas storyline," she continues.

"Corrie at Christmas is a tradition. It is in our house.

"Even though I know what's going to happen, I still like watching it. I still get surprised.

"I am genuinely a fan but I don't just tune in to watch myself. It might sound mental but I'm watching Fiz, not me."

On the streets of her home town Jennie has had lots of people coming up to her and warning her about John.

But much to her surprise, the actor who plays the treacherous teacher, Graeme Hawley, hasn't had any hassle as yet.

"I said, 'Oh, you wait'," Jennie laughed. "If he meets my Dad, he's going to batter him.

"He's not happy with the way he's been treating me! I suspect it might get worse for him."

"I wanted Fiz to have a nice Christmas. That's what I wanted my Christmas present to be, but it's not going to happen," she added.

"Just as long as I don't have as bad a Christmas as Fiz, I'll be all right."

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