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Fortunately, the ever-fun and youthful Eithne didn’t need to prove her flexibility for her latest telly role on Corrie, which is perhaps just as well on those cobbles!
But what the Liverpool actress did do is show her incredible versatility and skill for the character parts she plays so well.
“I play Ellen, the mother of the prostitute, Nicky, who’s been seeing Daniel,” says Eithne. “I self-taped to audition, never expecting to get it, and they came back next day and said I’d got the part.
“I meet up with Daniel and talk to him about Nicky’s past and how it’s been hard for her, bringing up her little girl Maisie on her own and how I wanted a better life for her.”
She adds: “I’ve got two short scenes which will be shown on September 23, but it was really nice.
“I had to do all my own hair and make-up because of Covid, but it was a wonderful couple of hours, I was welcomed by everyone, and they really take care of you.
“Rob Mallard, who plays Daniel, was just beautiful to work with and we had such a laugh. And when I saw ‘Nicky’ (Kimberly Hart-Simpson) in the corridor afterwards she said she was really glad to have met me and hoped they bring me back.
“That would be nice but even if I don’t see them again it was a wonderful experience in the middle of nothing and I had a lovely, shiny afternoon.”
It’s rare you’ll find Eithne, famed for her role as Chrissy Rogers in Brookside, anything other than positive. After a busy start to 2020, as with most people life didn’t go exactly as she’d planned.
Eithne, who has also appeared in Emmerdale, had just started playing the lead in Maggie May, a new play by award-winning playwright Frances Poet and a co-production between Curve, Leeds Playhouse, and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.
“Maggie May is about a woman who gets early dementia and an ordinary Leeds family learning to cope with the realities of living with it,” she says. “It’s a beautiful piece and it’s lovely, and really hopeful and fun.”
Eithne had just opened in the role at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch alongside John McArdle as her husband Gordon: “We opened on Friday and did Saturday and Monday and then, that was it, go home.
“I was gutted because it was one of those roles that was hard work but was brilliant. We’d worked on it for two years, with dementia groups in Leeds, and I was thinking how lucky am I to be doing this? And then we had to close.
“Fingers crossed we will be back into theatres soon and it can happen again.
“I should have just finished Mam! I’m Ere at the Royal Court and have been clinging on for a re-run of Masquerade at The Epstein Theatre, but instead of having me back they closed the theatre,” she giggles.
“But I’m lucky. I don’t feel dragged down by it all, I accept what’s happened – as we all have to – and count my blessings. I’m alright. At the end of the day, after everything that’s gone on, I feel safe, I’ve got lots of mates, food in the fridge and a nice roof over my head.
“And a couple of nice things have happened.
“When Vera Lynn died I was asked to be her at an afternoon at Western Approaches which was an absolute honour and it ended up being quite an emotional afternoon.
“I suddenly realised I was singing in the operations room where my father’s ships would have been guided from during the war because he was a merchant seaman and singing songs my mother sang because she was a Liverpool Vera Lynn. She sang, she was the most amazing person, I went with my own clothes but we found an original Wrens’ jacket and hat so I sang in those.
“It ended up being really special for me.”
Eithne also ended up as story-teller for Stephen Yip at KIND charity and, then, Corrie came along.
There have been lean times, as there have for most actors, but Eithne is rarely out of work… a pattern she hopes will continue.
“I still want to be acting in my 80s and 90s,” she admits. “If there’s room for a little old person at the back of the scene, I’ll be there. It’s one of those jobs. It’s who you are.
“And I do love it. I approach every job wanting to enjoy it and doing my best. Not all of them work out like that but if you go into something with the right attitude, and put the work in, it’s usually great.
“I’m doing a concert with Davey Edge and Mickey Starke at the end of this month at Blackburne House that’s evolved from a recording we were asked to do for the Liverpool Irish Festival. We might then take it to Cathy Roberts’ tugboat in the Dock for Gigs Ahoy – you see, people are trying to create events so hopefully they will happen.
“I will be doing Mam! I’m Ere, that’s rescheduled for 2021…” and, who knows, the Corrie bosses might come knocking again.
“You have to wait it out don’t you? And think well, okay, I can’t do that, but I can do this. I’m content with what comes through.
“And I’m lucky, being in Liverpool.
“If I’m feeling down, I jump on the bus and head into town and, by the time I’ve got to the bottom of Bold Street, I’ll have been lifted by someone or something.”
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