When I met Joe Duttine at a Corrie party thrown by the Daily Mirror (read all about that here), he graciously put up with my questions and – top man that he is – agreed to speak to me again for the Coronation Street Blog. And so, while Corrie fans were laughing at Tim’s hilarious sofa-swapping escapades last week, I caught up with Joe on the phone (hands-free of course) as he took the M60 out of Manchester after a long day on set.
Martin Leay (ML): You’ve been in Corrie for a while now – what have been the highlights?
Joe Duttine (JD): What has been interesting is the change they made to the character since he first came onto The Street. They’ve made him more entertaining, more humorous and that is something I’m enjoying. I’ve done a lot of heavy drama in the past and it’s quite nice to play a bit of comedy. And since they’ve put me with Sally, we just seem to have this chemistry and this rapport and it’s nice… Sally and I have been having a bit of a giggle.
(ML): Tim is very popular – what do you think people like about him?
(JD): I think people like to have a laugh. People want to see a bit of humour. There has been a lot of tragedy on Coronation Street over the years and… I think that’s probably what Tim brings to the show - a bit of lightness and silliness.
(ML): As an actor, do you prefer doing comedy or drama?
(JD): I like mixing it up. I don’t prefer one to the other - it’s just nice to have a bit of a change.
(ML): How much Joe Duttine is there in Tim Metcalfe?
(JD): As an actor, especially in something like Coronation Street, you lend yourself to the part so yeah, there are elements of me although I’m not as slovenly or as lazy as Tim. I like to be really tidy.
(ML): The dynamic between Tim and Sally is brilliant – does that come naturally?
(JD): Very occasionally when you’re working with another actor you get a chemistry… it’s an organic process that comes from nowhere and when it does it’s really helpful… if you get on with somebody and you have a similar sense of humour and you understand each other’s temper and the way they speak, it’s handy.
(ML): So, that’s why Tim and Sally work so well together?
(JD): Yeah, they’ve got chemistry. I don’t know what they’ve been likened to but… it’s good cop, bad cop – that kind of thing.
(ML): Can you see Tim and Sally becoming a classic Corrie couple?
(JD): It might be a bit arrogant for me to say they’ll become a classic Corrie couple but they seem to be entertaining people. People seem to be enjoying Tim and Sally.
(ML): Would you like them to stay together?
(JD): I think it’d be a shame for them to break them up. We see enough marriage breakups and affairs and infidelity. It’s nice to see a couple stay together and be happy together. We don’t have to create drama by splitting people up. There are lots of things they could do with Tim and Sally without breaking them up.
(ML): What was it like coming into Corrie and being put with a character as well established as Sally?
(JD): Every now and again… I was reminded that I was sitting on the sofa in the Websters’ house with Sally Dynevor and she’s been in it for 30 years – and she’s Sally Webster – and suddenly I’m playing her boyfriend. I never dreamt that they’d put me with Sally but they did and it developed and it’s home from home now.
(ML): If you could film a scene with any former Corrie character, who would you choose?
(JD): It’d be good fun to do some scenes with Jack. And I would have liked to do some scenes with some of the older ones… like the Hilda Ogdens… the northern battleaxes. I think Tim could have had a lot of fun with those characters - those kind of old step-scrubbing northern women. I think Tim would fit quite easily into that period.
(ML): It’s been interesting to see Tim and Kevin become mates. Will their friendship continue to blossom?
(JD): Yeah, I think so. Certainly (with) the stuff that we’ve filmed, Tim and Kev have been friends… between now and the Christmas eps and after Christmas, we’re matey, we’re friends and it’s good… it’s much more interesting that they’re friends.
(ML): When Tim first arrived, it seemed he might have a dark side. Is that still there?
(JD): No, I think they dispelled that quite early on. I think people have a tendency to come into Corrie and attempt to be the new Corrie hard man. And I’m quite glad that they steered Tim away from that because… it’s been done, hasn’t it? It’s more interesting to be likeable, I think.
(ML): Dev recently criticised Tim’s workmanship. Would you pay Tim to clean your windows?
(JD): Probably not. I think he’s probably just a bit quick and cheap. I personally like a more thorough job. I like the window sills wiping down and I like them to come inside and do the windows inside… my own personal window cleaner is always taking the p*** out of me for not doing it properly.
(ML): Tim got stuck on the roof recently. Were you actually several stories high?
(JD): Yeah, I was literally on the top of Sally’s house… health and safety went a little bit crazy on that one. There was scaffolding all up the back of the house and I had a big wire up my trouser leg. There was no way that I was going anywhere!
(ML): With the illiteracy storyline, was it good to get an issue to sink your teeth into?
(JD): The reading story is kind of being put to one side a little bit… it’s still there but it’s not as prominent as it was… I don’t know how serious they wanted it to be played because it didn’t run for a great length of time. But seriously, there are people that can’t read so I guess it has touched some people and we’ve made people aware.
(ML): Will it re-emerge at Faye’s school auction?
(JD): Not that I’m aware of… I think that it’s just something that has become one of Tim’s characteristics and that adds to his personality.
(ML): What will Christmas at No 4 Coronation Street be like this year?
(JD): The Webster household on Christmas day will be quite entertaining… we just provide all the Christmas fun.
(ML): What does 2015 have in store for Tim?
(JD): I’ve only got the scripts up until January. I have no idea what life is going to be like in 2015… I’d like to see (Tim and Sally’s) relationship develop a bit further.
(ML): What can you tell us about Faye’s pregnancy?
(JD): All I know is that she’s pregnant. I don’t know who the father is. I don’t know how Tim is going to react to it. I’ve not read a scene where Tim finds out yet.
(ML): What will Owen’s exit mean for Anna, Faye and Tim?
(JD): No idea. I don’t think that they’ll put Tim with Anna… I think Tim and Sally have such a good relationship it would be a real shame to break them up.
(ML): Are there any characters you wish you could do more scenes with?
(JD): I’d quite like to do a bit more in the pub… I think Tim and Steve could have fun.
(ML): How does Corrie compare to your other work in TV, film and theatre?
(JD): Now that I’ve got a young family it’s nice to know that I’ve got regular work… jobs don’t really last 2 or 3 years when you’re a jobbing actor … they’re normally over with within 2 or 3 months. So being in a show that is continuing, like Corrie, is incomparable to anything else that I’ve ever done… it’s more like a regular job.
(ML): You were in The Village on BBC1 last year. How was that?
(JD): Great… I loved it. I just wanted to do more of it. I don’t think they developed my character enough, otherwise I would have hung around to do a second series but then Corrie came along so I decided to do that.
(ML): What have you been watching recently?
(JD): I really enjoyed ‘Peaky Blinders’.
(ML): You were in ‘The Navigators’ directed by Ken Loach. What was he like to work with?
(JD): Amazing. It almost spoilt the rest of my career because I just wanted to work with him all the time… it was brilliant… a fantastic experience and I wish I could do it again.
(ML): What was it that you liked about the way he worked?
(JD): Because he’s Ken Loach he can do what he wants… there was one particular scene where we were working on the side of the railways and … we got out of the way when this train came past but as the train came past someone on the train had been to the toilet and we got covered from head to toe in s***. It wasn’t really s***, it was a special effect that he had arranged to get the reaction that he wanted… he can do what he wants to get reactions and that gives you great freedom as an actor.
(ML): How did it feel joining a long-running show like Corrie?
(JD): Everybody’s been really lovely to me since I’ve got there and I’ve kind of got on well with everybody and I’ve done little bits of stuff with everybody… I’ve had a good time doing that. It’s quite daunting knowing that you’re coming into a soap and you’re going to be doing scenes with these Corrie stars that have been doing it for years and years and years… they’re national treasures, aren’t they? ... Stepping on set for the first time with those legends… makes you stand up a bit.
(ML): What are you most proud of during your time in Corrie?
(JD): I’m quite proud that I’ve become the window cleaner on the nation’s favourite street. I want to be the nation’s favourite window cleaner!
(ML): You were in the public eye before Corrie but do you get recognised more now?
(JD): Definitely. I get “Oi! Come and clean me windows”… “Oi! Can you read this? Can you read that?”… “Oi! Dimmo”. It’s weird to be associated with one character when you’re an actor who has done a lot. People associate you with that character. For them you are real.
(ML): I guess that shows the impact Corrie still has?
(JD): Yeah, definitely. Corrie is big in millions of people’s lives, isn’t it?
(ML): It looks like the old set is going to be turned into a theatre and arts venue so perhaps some of the cobbles could be preserved?
(JD): I’m sure they will and how great it is to be part of that history. Even if it’s just in a small way, it makes you feel proud.
(ML): Will you be staying at Corrie for a while?
(JD): I’m definitely there till the end of October next year and then we’ll see what happens after that. Then they’ll decide whether they want to keep him and do something with him or not… as long as Tim and Sally are popular and they’re getting enough to do, then I’m happy… the thing is with being an actor; you never know what is around the corner. I never knew that three years in Coronation Street was going to be around the corner for me. I’d just been working with David Blair doing things like ‘Accused’ and then I did ‘Scott & Bailey’ and I did ‘The Village’ and lots of single camera drama and then suddenly Corrie comes along and I had no idea that was going to be the case. So that’s quite exciting knowing that you don’t really know what’s going to happen in the future.
And at that point, Joe Duttine pulled up outside his favourite offy in Glossop to pick up some Farmers Blonde beers to drink at home in front of that evening’s hour-long Corrie. It sounded such a good idea that I got some beers in myself, which I enjoyed while watching one of the best Corrie episodes in ages; all down to Tim, Sally and the lips-like-Jagger settee. Tim and Sally are a joy to watch and their scenes light up the screen. I would like to thank Joe Duttine for taking the time to speak to the Blog. Here’s hoping for lots more Tim and Sally in the New Year!
By Martin Leay
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