Street star has true grit

Wendi Peters'Cilla from Coronation Street
Wendi Peters'Cilla from Coronation Street

Fiz Stape isn’t having the best of times on Coronation Street but don’t expect her mum to come rushing to her rescue.

In fact actress Wendi Peters says a return for Cilla Battersby-Brown would only make things worse!

Wendi left the Street in 2007 after four years as brassy troublemaker Cilla, a character soap fans loved to hate.

Cilla pulled scams and was loathed by her neighbours, married workshy Les Battersby and was a nightmare mum to Fiz and Chesney.

But the Blackburn-born actress quit the cobbles in 2007 to spend more time with her family and doesn’t regret it.

Still, she looks back at her time on the Street with fondness, including the famous ‘hot tub’ scene where she and Les, and Chesney’s bounding Great Dane Schmeichel, plunged through the bathroom ceiling...

“That took a day and a half to film,” says Wendi.

“They actually built a whole set for it; that tub wouldn’t have fit inside a real bathroom.

“By the time I’d sat in there for a couple of hours it was so cold, and the dog had such big claws!

“But I thought it was edited so well, it looked so grandiose on TV.”

Cilla also loved filming her wedding scenes in 2005 alongside unlikely guests, the rock band Status Quo.

“It was crazy!” she laughs.

“When I was younger, if someone had said to me I would be in Coronation Street I would have laughed at them. But to be in Coronation Street, get married and have Status Quo sing at the wedding, that was amazing. My mum is a big Quo fan. She was an extra in the background! It’s something to tell the grandchildren.”

Since leaving Corrie, the former Bad Girls star has been in high demand, returning to her first love of the stage.

Wendi toured the UK with Jenny Eclair and Susie Blake in Grumpy Old Women Live 2 - Chin Up Britain, and starred in The Vagina Monologues and April in Paris.

Now Dukes Theatre-goers can see her in Northern Broadsides’ production of Rutherford & Son (February 19 to 23), a gritty play set in the North of England in 1912.

“I play Mrs Henderson, whose son Bill is a bit of a bad lad. He is accused of stealing £10, which in 1912 was a lot of money.

“The audience knows he has stolen it, but his mother likes a drink and thinks she can take on Mr Rutherford (played by Barrie Rutter).”

Rutherford is the control freak patriarch of a family-owned glassworks business, which collapses as the Edwardian industrial era comes to its close.

“We were talking in rehearsals about how although it’s set 100 years ago, his factory is going through what so many businesses are suffering right now with the recession,” she says.

Wendi has something in common herself with fellow cast member Kate Anthony, who played Molly Dobbs’ auntie Pam Hobsworth in Coronation Street from 2008 to 2011.

“We’d never met until the first day of rehearsals but we hit it off straight away,” says Wendi. “It’s a great company altogether and such a wonderful piece of writing.

“You’ll be shocked at how it turns out.”

Performances of Rutherford & Son are at 7.30pm. Call 01524 598500 for tickets.