If someone hurts Tracy, she always gets her own back
With her Corrie alter ego fired up and out for revenge yet again, there's never a dull moment on set for Kate Ford. The actress tells Susan Griffin why her character's "obsessed" with her enemy du jour, Carla Connor
CORONATION STREET'S Tracy Barlow has never been Carla Connor's biggest fan, but things are set to boil over when her arch enemy usurps her once again.
This time, with Liz planning on starting a new life with Tony in Spain, Carla decides to buy the landlady's share of the Rovers Return, but in doing so, unwittingly scuppers Tracy's dastardly plan to take over the pub with Tony, her secret lover for the last few months.
"Tony comes to her and tells her that their plan hasn't worked out, and he's not been able to secure the other half of the Rovers. They've been gazumped by Carla," reveals Kate Ford who, apart from a break from 2007-2010, has played Tracy since 2002.
"She's absolutely gobsmacked, she wasn't expecting it. Carla is the worst person it could have been to pip them to the post."
Unsurprisingly, Tracy "goes crazy", feeling that it's yet another example of Carla getting one up on her.
Ford, who's mum to six-year-old son Otis in real life, believes her alter ego is actually "quite obsessed" with Carla.
"Tracy is so jealous of her. I think she wants her life and status, so this is the final straw," continues the 38-year-old actress, who trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
Off screen, she and Ali King, who plays Carla, are good friends. "We're lucky as we have a lot of scenes together and it makes coming into work nice," says Ford.
On screen, however, and it couldn't be more different, with the Salford-born soap star revealing that "Tracy's got revenge on her mind".
But first, she decides to reveal all to Liz. With the Rovers a hive of activity as the final preparations are made for Steve (Simon Gregson) and Michelle's (Kym Marsh) wedding, Tracy corners Liz (Beverley Callard) in the Rovers' yard, and drops the bombshell that not only has she been having an affair with Tony, they've been plotting to oust her from the pub.
"Tracy is so nasty to Liz, especially considering Liz is her daughter's grandmother! She tells Liz everything, in excruciating detail. Liz is so shocked, she can't believe it. She thought Tony was the best man she's ever had."
Ford admits she struggles with the venom Tracy can spout to her fellow Weatherfield residents.
"Sometimes Tracy is just so nasty, but if you don't say it with conviction then it's not going to work. So you just have to say it and get on with it," she says, laughing.
A devastated Liz breaks down and tells Carla about the affair, who in turn approaches Tracy, telling her she knows what she's done and warning her to stay away from the wedding. Later, Tracy slips behind the bar and steals the keys to Carla's flat from Michelle's handbag.
She goes over to her flat in Victoria Court and, as preview photos reveal, finds Carla asleep on the sofa – and also finds herself picking up a potential murder weapon.
Tracy has killed before, of course. Fans will remember she bumped off her boyfriend Charlie Stubbs when she found he'd cheated on her – but viewers will have to wait until the episodes air, from tonight, to see what happens.
"Tracy is extremely reactionary. If something or someone hurts her, she wants to hurt people back," says Ford. "When things are going well for her, she's actually not that bad. I think Tracy is a really hurt and damaged person and lashes out a lot through bitterness, rather than her being an out-and-out villain."
She is extremely manipulative though, as Tony discovers all too late.
"Tracy was using him, ultimately. She tells him he could never hold a candle to Rob [Tracy's former fiance and Carla's brother, who's in prison after killing the barmaid Tina]. She says to him that she was using him to better herself and for sex, but that's where it ended."
And she has no intention of becoming a pub landlady elsewhere.
"If he can't give her the Rovers 100 per cent, then she's not interested. If she was in love with him or if it were Rob, then she'd consider a little country pub somewhere in Cheshire, but she doesn't want it. She just wanted everyone to look and think, 'Oh my God, Tracy Barlow owns the Rovers!'
"She's put all her eggs in that basket and was hoping it would be her chance to prove to people that she's worth something and isn't a loser. Now she feels she's failed yet again – and she's so angry and upset."
Events will take an even more dramatic turn when a fire breaks out in the Victoria Court flats, and it looks like there could be more than one person in jeopardy.
"We had 10 night-shoots and it made me realise how hard it must be to work night shifts," says Ford of filming the dramatic scenes. "It was really hard [working nights]. When do you drink your red wine?!"
Whether Tracy's thirst for revenge turns into a nightmare is yet to be revealed, but it will undoubtedly keep viewers hooked.
"People either love her or hate her. You get so many people saying Tracy should be punished, but then you get some saying they love her and that she's so much fun," Ford adds with a grin.
"She's one of those Marmite characters."
:: Coronation Street continues on ITV on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. From tonight, it will air every night until Friday.