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Coronation Street’s Katie McGlynn begged bosses to kill off Sinead Osbourne after almost quitting over boring storylines

THERE aren’t many people who would go to their boss with the sole intention of talking themselves out of a job.

But that’s exactly what Katie McGlynn did when she asked the producers at Coronation Street to kill her off.

The result was the recent cervical cancer story line, where viewers saw her character Sinead Osbourne die following a year-long battle with the illness in some of the bravest and most heartbreaking scenes the Street has ever shot.

“When they first told me about the story, they weren’t sure if it was going to be terminal,” says Katie, 26. “But I said I think she should die. I said that knowing it would mean I didn’t have a job. But I wanted to show what’s real life, that it’s not always a fairy tale and people do die. Some TV shows fear the sad ending, but I wanted to make it as real as possible.”

Which it absolutely was. The unnerving time jumps, edgy camera work and focus on Sinead’s breathing made those final scenes extremely intense to watch, and Katie says she’s proud to have been a part of that. 

But, um, what about her mortgage?

“I’ve got savings, I’m not completely daft,” she laughs. “It’s a bit scary to not have a job, but I’m OK for now.”

The truth is, Katie started getting itchy feet a couple of years ago, frustrated that Sinead was plodding along without any major drama.

She arranged a meeting with then-producer Kate Oates to talk through her dissatisfaction and announce her intention to quit.

“I’d just turned 24 and was on this big show, but I wasn’t doing much,” she says candidly. “I felt a bit lost. I’d come from a lot of drama at my previous job on Waterloo Road, where I was getting big, challenging story lines left, right and centre. I went to Corrie and I pinched myself that I was there, but the character took a while to develop to make her the quirky girl she became. 

“I didn’t feel Sinead was reaching her full potential, and unless something really bad happened to her I didn’t think there was anywhere for her to go. She was too sweet, her life was very normal and I wasn’t sure about what to do.”

It was during that meeting that Oates told Katie producers were in the early stages of planning the cancer story line and asked her to consider staying on to do it. 

“I was very open with her about feeling lost and not knowing if I should still be there. And that’s when she put this story line to me and I thought: ‘Well, I can’t leave now.’ I said: ‘Yes, please, let me do it!’ And I said that I wanted Sinead to die.

“Selfishly I wanted a big story but I also wanted it to get women going for their smears, because it felt like the Jade Goody effect had gone.”

Reality star Jade died of cervical cancer in 2009 and the publicity around that tragedy saw an upsurge in the number of women attending routine smear tests.

But the impact was short-lived and by last year the number of screenings had reached an all-time low.

While Sinead’s story played out, GPs reported those figures starting to climb again and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust saw an increase in calls to its helpline.

“I was really shocked and touched and humbled by the reaction,” says Katie. “I wasn’t expecting it to be this big, but I’m so proud that we’ve raised awareness. We invested a lot of time in it and the research team was amazing. We wanted to make sure we got it right.” 

It’s also given Katie’s confidence in herself as an actress a boost after the quieter years of playing Sinead had allowed self-doubt to creep in.

“I’ve been so out of practice for four years, I didn’t know if I could still do the serious scenes. It’s given me my confidence back again,” she says.

Katie is spending the festive period playing Tinker Bell in panto Peter Pan, in what will be some welcome relief after being immersed in such a draining story line.

But she is the latest in a long line of Corrie stars to leave the Street – Kym Marsh, Lucy Fallon and Beverley Callard are just a few of the others also quitting – amid rumours of major unrest and low morale at, among other issues, the increased working hours since new producer Iain MacLeod came in last year.

“It’s coincidence,” insists Katie. “My story line was written so far in advance so it’s been more sporadic rather than everyone suddenly deciding at once. 

“People want to try other opportunities, it’s not →that they’re fed up of working there, because it’s actually a really place lovely to work.

“The Street always goes on, no matter what. Corrie has nothing to worry about.”

The recent move to six episodes a week (with reports this could soon increase to seven) has undoubtedly placed more pressure on the cast and crew and the jury is definitely still out as far as the viewers are concerned regarding whether it’s overkill.

Would Katie have preferred it back at a more manageable three or four episodes a week?

“Probably, yes. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a chore for the audience, but it is a big commitment. And upping it makes everyone have to work even harder to get the episodes out, as well as people at home working harder to keep up. 

“But I guess that’s the way the media is going now. With Netflix and dramas, you watch a box set in a week. Corrie is trying to chase that, so I don’t blame them.”

Rochdale-born Katie is the youngest of five siblings and first started drama classes aged seven in a bid to combat her chronic shyness.

“My mum wanted to help me overcome that and make some friends. So I joined Carol Godby’s [theatre school in Bury] and that was it, I’ve had no other training.” 

She got her first job at 16 on Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On and then won the part of troubled Jodie “Scout” Allen on Waterloo Road, where she stayed until Coronation Street came calling in 2013.

“I did my A levels while I was filming Waterloo Road, and it was literally a case of doing the exam then getting into a cab to go and film. So I did have a back-up!

“My parents have always supported me. They knew I was passionate about this career and that I had a fire in my belly for this path. It was about helping me get there.”

She says she was an awkward, self-conscious teen and has grown much more comfortable in her skin with age. She tries not to let social media trolling get to her, preferring to deflect it with humour.

“Someone posted on one of my pictures: ‘Are you pregnant?’ And I replied: ‘No, I’m just fat’. That’s how I deal with it, I flip it. There will always be bitter people who want to ruin other people’s lives.

Selfishly I wanted a big story but I also wanted it to get women going for their smears, because it felt like the Jade Goody effect had gone.

Katie McGlynn

“Me 10 years ago was a completely different person. Becoming a young woman in today’s society is hard. I’d love to tell that girl to stop worrying about what other people thought, stop comparing yourself. It’s about having confidence and faith in yourself.”

That said, she’s currently working on a body transformation with Ultimate Performance in Manchester, having gained a stone during the filming of Sinead’s final months. “I wanted them to crack the whip with the nutrition side of things. I just didn’t feel like myself and I wanted to get back to me.

“So I asked the guys to help me because I wasn’t comfortable and I need to be a certain size to feel happy and confident. It’s about finding that balance without getting obsessed.

“I think everyone feels a certain pressure with social media. We all see those edited and gym-honed bodies. Yes, I’m in the spotlight, but I think any young woman is under that same pressure today.”

She’s been single since splitting with boyfriend Benji Roberts at the start of the year and says she’s quite happy being on her own.

“To be honest, I’ve not had time for any of that. I’m so laid-back I don’t go searching for it. I know some women feel like they’re on a clock, but I’m not bothered. 

"I live on my own and I love having my own space. I’m actually really good on my own, and I think that might be my problem. I enjoy my own company too much and I also have really high standards, so if anyone wants to come into my life, everything has to be ticked off. It all has to click and if I have even one doubt then I don’t really want to waste my time.

“And I don’t meet anyone anyway. I don’t use dating apps for obvious reasons, and whenever I go out I’m with my friends. I do worry when someone’s looking whether it’s just because they’ve recognised me from the TV. It’s very hard to differentiate who’s genuine and who’s not.”

Christmas plans will involve spending “quality time” with her family (“Because I’ve not really seen them at all the last year and a half”) as well as a lot of “eating, drinking and more eating”. 

Katie adds: “I’m not really a big Christmas person, though. When I have kids I’m sure I will be, but I get bored watching the same films every year.”

What was the last...

Book you read?

Trafficked by Sophie Hayes. It’s an autobiography about a girl who was sex trafficked.

Movie you watched?

Joker. Absolutely brilliant. It messes with your head.

Box set you watched?

The Handmaid’s Tale. I love it.

Time you lost your temper?

Yesterday, when I couldn’t find my Invisalign braces. I was going mental.

Kiss you had?

Gosh, I don’t know. It’s going to have to be Rob Mallard [who plays Corrie’s Daniel, Sinead’s husband]. I don’t get that much action to be honest.

Time you cried?

Watching my final episode.

WhatsApp you received?

Rob Mallard, to arrange lunch.

Podcast you listened to?

James Smith – he’s like the Gordon Ramsay of fitness. He’s very good.

As for the future, there are some top-secret talks going on for projects in 2020 and Katie has been back on the audition trail as she lines up post-Corrie work. Her schedule is unlikely to include reality TV, though, despite having been offered the opportunity.

“Never say never. I’ve been offered a lot of the dating ones, but it’s not my comfort zone. And at this time in my life I want to focus on acting, that’s what I know. 

“It’s scary, but in a good way. I’ve never once doubted it or worried about what I’ve done. I love not knowing what’s going to happen next week.

“I’d like to think I left at the right time. I tried to choose a good time to leave and hopefully the stars have aligned.

She adds: “I think Corrie has been such a big part of my life and I’ll never forget it, but now I want to draw a line under it and see what else is out there.”

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