One thing that really struck me at this year’s Soap Awards which was filmed in Manchester, is that you get a different class of soap fan up North. I can only describe the crowd clustered around the Palace Theatre in Manchester, asking for selfies and autographs, as super fans. One bloke had a tattoo of Kym Marsh taking up his entire forearm. That really is soap love for you.
Others were clutching prints and photographs for their favourite stars to autograph, which they duly did. As the camera shutters clicked and the crowd hollered, I was glad to be ordinary. A non-entity in a cheap M&S dress wearing flat shoes and a grimace – well it was a bit cold and my bunion was hurting. Soap fans expect their idols to be obliging and smiling at all times – and I know there are moments when I am neither of those things. Just ask my husband.
The soap actors were incredibly courteous with the fans, even though a few of them appeared to have stalker like tendencies – they knew an awful lot about some of the stars’ recent comings and goings. It didn’t matter. Everybody was met with good grace. And heartfelt thanks. After all, without the fans, the soap bubble would surely burst. Sad pun alert…
Anyway, onto the gossip – I know you are itching for it! Now, I didn’t know that Hollyoaks Anna Passey was dating her co-star Nick Rhys who plays Lockie Campbell, but they were at the awards as a couple. Holding hands and beaming. And my goodness, what an attractive pair they are. Once again, Anna was wearing the stand out dress of the night, although she changed into something more comfortable for the after show party. ‘I’ve done the nice dress now – this is much more comfortable,’ she told me in the loos after changing into a black knee length frock and ankle boots.
Although half the Hollyoaks cast didn’t know who Patrick Duffy was, the rest of us, well those over the age of 40, recognised him as Bobby from Dallas. And some of us, mentioning no names, spent the rest of the weekend humming the show’s theme tune. Patrick was besieged at the after show party by folk wanting their photo taken with him. He couldn’t walk an inch without having to grin through dozens of selflies and do you know what, he made each person feel like it was the first. Danny Dyer reacted similarly – he was charm itself when myself and colleague Alison Slade (aka Soapdish’s Soapy Al) posed for a snap. He even gave us a kiss. On the lips in Al’s case. Harlot!
Danny was thrilled for co-star Kellie Bright who received two awards and reveals that he still has nightmares about the scenes where Linda Carter gave birth to her baby boy. It’s obvious that Kellie’s had kids in real-life, because she sounded like a cow having a hard time at the abattoir in that episode, and that in case you didn’t know, is how a woman sounds in the throes of labour. Again, ask my husband, or in fact, my neighbours, for I had two of my three children at home.
Kellie, like most of the women there, had sore feet by the end of the awards ceremony. She changed into a pair of Converse for the after show party. Others, like Gillian Kearney (Emmerdale’s Emma Barton) took their shoes off. Heel wearer of the night was Emmerdale producer Kate Oates, who wears the kind of shoes I couldn’t sit down in, let alone walk.
Gillian Taylforth who is soon to return to EastEnders as Kathy Beale looked stunning. She’s had some time off and has been put through her paces by her partner who is a personal trainer. When word gets out, he’s going to be booked up until the Soap Awards 2020.
Anthony Quinlan who plays Pete Barton, was there with his mum who is a young and glamorous looking 46-year-old. A few other stars had their mums in tow. Kym Marsh brought her daughter Emily along and Katherine Dow Blyton was there with a young niece who was desperate to party all night long, whilst Katherine, like me, had had enough by 1am.
Michelle Hardwick from Emmerdale, was there with her new wife Rosie, but despite being just 30 years old, she’d gone to bed early, favouring a cup of tea to the free bar laid on downstairs at the hotel. Some of course, abused the free bar and things got, well, a bit undignified, but I am not mentioning any names.
Finally, on the way out of the Palace Hotel, I happened upon Ryan Hawley who plays Robert Sugden in Emmerdale. He was stood there with a tiny dog which was wearing a cute little jumper. He is called Tommy, he’s Ryan’s best friend and he’s eight. When I asked if people laugh at Ryan, a soap villain, taking a Chihuahua for walks, he told me that Tommy gets loads of attention from women, which would be great if he was single. He stressed that he is married, but the woman I thought was his gorgeous wife, was actually Kelvin Fletcher’s missus. Oops.
I slept in the next day, but one of my spies tells me that Anna Passey even looked wonderful when she was checking out of her hotel in tracky bottoms. Likewise, I happened to be sitting behind Gillian Taylforth on the train back to London. ‘How is it that you even look glamorous the morning after?’ I spat as I slunk to my seat and donned a pair of shades.
Meanwhile, in the next carriage, the Masoods (Nitin Ganatra, Himesh Patel and Rakhee Thakrar) were playing cards. But don’t worry. No sums of money were involved. There were only mini chocolate cookies at stake and someone from the production team was winning.
It’s not rock n’ roll, but it’s soap and it’s some of the best TV on the box. And that’s why I love the Soap Awards.
What a weekend. Here’s to next year!