Passion and pain on Coro Street

17:00, May 23 2014
Coronation Street
CORO STARS: Eva (Catherine Tyldesley), and Nick Tilsley (Ben Price).

Childhood sweethearts Leanne Battersby and Nick Tilsley look set to rekindle their romance. But as Nick asks Leanne to move in with him, he makes a deadly enemy in a furious Peter. Jim Maloney hears about the passion and pain on Coronation Street.

Nick Tilsley shares a passionate embrace with Leanne this week on Coronation Street and it looks like everything is rosy, particularly when she agrees to move in with him, along with Simon.

But Nick knows that Leanne no longer has the same feelings for him and that she still loves Peter.

However, he is willing to accept a life like this if it means they can be together again.

"I think Nick is providing stability for her," says Ben Price, who plays Nick. "He's got his own business, with The Bistro, he doesn't drink - unlike Peter, who's an alcoholic - and he is willing to take her and her  son into his home."

The reunion occurs after Nick admits to his grandmother Audrey that he still loves Leanne (Jane Danson). When Audrey suggests he tells her, Nick calls in at the Rovers and blurts it all out to Leanne.

Unfortunately, Nick's one-time girlfriend Eva (Catherine Tyldesley), who is Leanne's half sister, hears this and is devastated.

But Leanne is touched by Nick's declaration of love. It has come at just the right time.

"She's on the rebound from her break-up with Peter," says Ben. "Nick knows that but he doesn't care."

But he does care when Peter, furious that his son will be living with Nick, turns up at the Bistro late at night as Nick is closing up, and warns him to stay away.

Peter is a volatile man and Nick is now firmly in the firing line.

"Nick loves the thought of what he had with Leanne at 16," says Price. "They were kids who had grown up together and fallen in love.

"Now there is too much water under the bridge. He left her, she had an abortion... but he is genuine when he tells her that she is the love of his life."

Coronation Street has made Price a household name in Britain, but his big break came in Footballers' Wives, in which he played the flashy, bisexual lothario Conrad Gates.

"I had been around for a while doing theatre and small TV roles but Footballers' Wives was a programme of its time and it propelled me," he says. "I became known, which makes it slightly easier.

"But I couldn't play that character for the whole of my life. I can't roll around with dyed hair and no clothes on forever."

But Coro has brought him even wider recognition, even though at times it is unwelcome.

"I was recognised in a toilet in New York once, which was probably the oddest and most unexpected place," he recalls, with a laugh.

"I didn't want to chat for too long in the loo though. I just said, 'I'm just going to go to the loo, if that's all right'. But that happens a lot.

"Another time eight blokes were in the toilets at the service station on the M6 (motorway), saw me in there and asked for my photo. I replied, 'It's probably best not in the loo'.

"The thing is, on another show you have a slight gap between yourself and the viewers, but on a soap you don't. You are in their living room several times a week and they feel they really know you. It's a different level of being recognised.

"Nobody ever calls me by my real name. If they recognise me in the street they shout, 'Nick! Nick!'

They like him. They get him...

"However I did get one old granny come up to me in the supermarket who said, 'Ooh, you are awful!'

"But a woman saw me out with my child the other day and said, 'Oh, you have got a heart'."

Price, 42, was born in Newcastle but now lives in London - at the weekend anyway - with his fashion stylist wife Alexandra, their seven-year-old daughter Paloma and four-year-old son Maximillian.

"I live in Manchester during the week to film Coronation Street but my wife and kids are in London so I commute," he says. "I head home Friday night and go back on Sunday."

The work schedule is intense but he loves the chance to explore the character of Nick over a long period.

"We can do 40 pages of script a day whereas on Footballers' Wives we did five. You have to put a lot of discipline into it. It's all year round.

"What's nice about it is that you don't have to keep reminding viewers about what is going on with your character and what their relationship is to somebody else.

"The audience has bonded with the characters and families over the years. They will know if Gail is winding Nick up. You only have to give a look. There's a shorthand to it. I love that."

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