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I TALK TO Michelle Keegan

Since leaving Coronation Street in 2014, Michelle Keegan has gone on to star in two major BBC One dramas; Ordinary Girls and Our Girl and she’s kicking off 2017 with another new drama, this time for ITV called Tina And Bobby.

She’s already proved herself as a great actress outside of Weathefield and now Michelle is hoping for rave reviews once more playing original WAG Tina Moore. Tina And Bobby is a new three-part drama which tells the story of the England and West Ham legend Bobby Moore’s life with his childhood sweetheart, Tina Dean.

The three episodes follow them from their humble beginnings to the dizzy heights of superstardom. When England won the World Cup in July 1966 Bobby Moore became a national hero. Swept up by the media frenzy and the nation’s adoration, he and wife Tina were the original ‘golden’ couple.

The drama based on Tina Moore’s memoir, Bobby Moore: By The Person Who Knew Him Best, is an epic love story about an ordinary girl from Essex who fell head over heels in love with an ordinary boy, who just happened to be an extraordinarily talented footballer.

What did you know about your character, Tina Moore, before taking on the part? 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Tina outside of Bobby. The first time I heard their story was when I watched the documentary Bobby, before I even knew about the role.

I watched it with Mark (Wright), because he’s a West Ham fan so he knew who Bobby Moore was. He gave me the low down on Bobby’s teammates, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton, Malcolm Allison and Noel Cantwell.

Being from Essex Mark told me what Bobby meant to people there, how he was regarded as one of the greatest defenders, what a legend Bobby was and what he meant to football. To hear it first hand was unbelievable.

Mark (Wright) is a West Ham supporter and knew a lot about both of them. He gave me the low down on Bobby’s teammates, Geoff Hurst, Mar1n Peters, Jack Charlton, Malcolm Allison and Noel Cantwell.

Then a few weeks later I got the script sent through and my agent said to me “Read the script. Let me know what you think”, so I read it, rang her back and said “Yeah, I love the script.” It took me a while to read though because I was filming Our Girl at the time so it was a case of trying to find breaks to read all three eps.

What was it about the role that attracted you to it?

I like playing strong women and I worked with John (McKay, Director) before on Ordinary Lies so I loved working with him. Although publicly Bobby was very much at the forefront, she was the backbone in that relationship, she was in the driver’s seat at home.

He went to Tina for advice a lot of the time, and she was the one that looked after him, the kids, the house, everything. So when I auditioned, that’s how I played it. I was very strong and throughout the first episode you see how strong Tina is.

Even when Bobby had bad moments, she was the one who picked him back up and never dropped that front.

How does it differ to your character in Our Girl?

As soon as I got the part I was delighted, because it is totally different to different to Our Girl. That’s what I do as an actor, I want to do these different roles that people perhaps don’t expect me to do.

I wrapped Our Girl on the Friday and started the read-throughs for Tina And Bobby on the Monday, I just had to go for it. It was too good of an opportunity to turn down. It is a big transition going from a gritty, action-packed army medic to this glamorous sixties footballer’s wife who goes through all this drama!

Talking of drama, it’s fair to say that Tina goes through quite a lot in the three episodes. What can you tell us about that?

Yeah she does. She met Bobby when she was 15, so she grows up throughout the three episodes. She starts off as a 15-year-old young girl, falls in love, turns into a wife - she didn’t even know how to do housework or cook. She sews his shorts at one point and they actually ripped, that actually happened.

His mum was very strict with Bobby so Tina had to take over that at such a young age but she didn’t know how to do housework. There’s another scene where she’s cooking for the family, his parents and her mum, and she starting burning all the food. She didn’t know what to do.

So she panics and calls her mum in, who’s played by Patsy Kensit, and her mum has to take over.

Then she has the children and then Bobby gets ill and again, she becomes his backbone. She looks after him, makes him feel like a man again, seeing the decline of Bobby and what he went through when he left football until eventually at the end, they split up.

What’s your opinion like of Bobby Moore now?

There’s a really nice quote, and I think Russell Brand says it in the documentary, “A lot of people are knighted by the Queen and not a lot of people are knighted by the people” - and Bobby Moore was definitely knighted by the people.

I think now, Bobby is celebrated as the icon that he was. But back then, because the FA didn’t take him on after he left football and retired, he just sort of blended into the background a little bit. It was only when he left that people began to call him a national hero. He was never given that status when he was alive which is really really sad.

Now people remember him as one of the greats of football, he has a statue, there’s a stand names after him, but it’s just a bit sad that none of this happened when he was alive.

Why do you think now is the right time to tell the story of Tina and Bobby in an ITV drama?

It’s because of the anniversary of the World Cup, fifty years. And because it has just been the anniversary, people want to know more about Bobby Moore, especially the next generation. 1966 was the first time England had won the World Cup and they haven’t won it since. Every time the World Cup comes around everyone goes “We might win it.” - we don’t.

So the one time we did win it was in the sixties and people want to know more about that. What was it like to be around in those days? It was huge.

What was it like working with Lorne MacFadyen, who plays Bobby?

Oh I love Lorne! He was great. We hit it off straight away in the read-through. He made me feel really comfortable because I was really nervous at first. I sat next to him and he was just so chilled. He’s so good in it, you wouldn’t believe that he was Scottish! He’s really talented.

The next day, after the read-through, we had a chemistry meeting with the director, and we had to improvise - we had to get up and dance with no music! It was really embarrassing, but it sort of broke the ice. So then afterwards we felt really comfortable with each other. I loved working with him.

And what was it like working with Patsy Kensit, who plays your mother?

She was amazing! Again, me and her hit it off like that. She sat next to me in the read-through, and again I was really nervous, and Patsy would keep rubbing my leg and going “You’re alright. You’re alright."

Tina And Bobby was filmed in Manchester. Was it nice to work much closer to home compared to South Africa?

Yes, although I made the decision to stay in a hotel. A lot of people thought I’d be staying with my mum or back home, but I think because it was quite full on - we only had eight weeks to turn around three eps - I just said I’d rather stay in the hotel, because that way there are no distractions.

I’ve got dogs and stuff, and no doubt my mum would be in my room having a chit chat. So for me, I focussed and stayed in a hotel during filming. It was nice for a weekend because home was five minutes from the hotel so I’d go back and see my mum and my dad and stuff.

Tina calls herself the first WAG, the original WAG. What do you think of that as a term now?

She was very proud of it. Now, it’s such a negative term and I think that’s because nowadays it’s quite aspirational to be a WAG. Being married to a footballer is seen as more of a job now. I’ve met a lot of footballer’s wives who have the same mindset as they did back then.

They love their husbands, they look after the home, they look after their kids, but I think it’s quite a negative term now. But then again, nowadays people love to put a negative spin on everything. I think that’s just the day and age that we live in now.

Can you see parallels between your life and Tina’s life?

Yeah, because that’s exactly what happened for me. I started anonymous, I worked in a shop and went for auditions all the time. I saw a lot of people who were in the public eye come into the shop where I worked, so for me, I started in Corrie and within six months people knew who I was. They were interested in what I was wearing, what I was doing, who I was dating and it is really surreal.

It’s what happened with Tina. She was a normal housewife, she had her kids, she had her husband, and they were a normal family. Then all of a sudden the World Cup happened and bang - public eye and journalists on the doorstep.

I spoke to Tina and she said she never got used to that. She never got used to that world and they were very private. Bobby was a very private person, she was the confident one in the relationship where as he was more, the shy one.

You’ve done incredibly well since leaving Coronation Street, which isn’t often the case for soap actors, can you believe the opportunities you’ve been given?

No, I can’t! I started in Corrie when I was twenty. So about ten years ago now, and people always say to me “Can you believe you were in Coronation Street?” and I’m like “No."

It’s weird actually, we were watching it last night and I still can’t believe I was on that show. I can’t believe that I was in Coronation Street. It’s such an iconic show and I was such big fan of it, and still am, and I was a part of that show. It’s just unbelievable.

I never left Corrie with any expectations. I never thought “I can do this, this and this”. I purely left because I thought, if I don’t leave now, I never will. That’s what it was. And I went into acting to challenge myself, to see if I can do these roles.

It took me about two years to make the decision and I thought, you know what, if I don’t get any more roles, at least I can turn around and go “I did a pretty good one. I was in Corrie.” I had great storylines.

For me though, I always live for the now. Always. People always ask me what I’m going to do next, and to be fair I don’t know. I always go for my gut instincts. If I get a script that I love, I will go for it. I’ve always been like that to be fair. When I was in college and did drama, that was the only thing that I was passionate about. I didn’t really like any other subjects.

When I left college I could have gone to uni, but I thought, what do I want to do? Who do I want to be? I don’t want to waste all those years and not use my degree so I took a year out and that’s when I got Corrie!

So touch wood it’s all worked out well... so far. 2016 has been an especially busy year, but I just can’t believe it’s happening. When I wrapped on Tina And Bobby I looked back and went “God, that was a year!” - that was a good ten months non-stop work. I’m just really grateful for it.

Tina And Bobby starts Friday 13th January at 9pm on ITV


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