Coronation Street newcomer Julia Goulding can breathe a sigh of relief now that her on-screen secret has finally been revealed.
In tonight’s episode Julia’s alter ego, Shona Ramsey, was revealed to be mum to Clayton, the lad who stabbed Kylie Platt to death in the middle of the street.
Here Julia reveals what it’s been like keeping that secret, what it means for Shona and the Platts and what she thinks is about to unfold…
Before you joined the show did you decide what Shona’s backstory was going to be?
They give you a character breakdown for the auditions and then you take the different aspects of the personality and join it with your own thoughts. I took myself away and thought how hard it must be to be separated from your own child and how would that then make her behave with the rest of the people she meets and stuff like that.
How old was she when she had Clayton?
She was 13. So she is 29 now it is quite scary because Callum, who plays Clayton, is 18 and I’m 32, so I could be his mother.
So what is the deal with Clayton because we’ve been led to believe he was raised by his father?
She raised him. They were on the Dog and Gun estate and she raised him until he was 10 with absolutely no contact with his dad. They kept this tiny little world just those two where they were both safe then the father got in touch and Clayton wanted to know more about his dad which Shona didn’t want to happen. It pushed Clayton towards his dad more and he was a very bad influence on him. They ended up arguing a lot so Clayton left and went to live with his dad which developed his character from being a sweet young boy to somebody who could kill someone when they were 16.
How does she feel knowing she’s now living in the same area as the family her son ruined when he killed Kylie?
It was all kind of by accident. On Christmas day Billy took her in and then when she realised where she was she was settled and had a home there and she’d never been part of a community like that. It’s just bad luck, she didn’t realise she would have so much contact with them, she’s torn between doing the right thing and leaving and not being around but also she’s really happy in the life she has created after going through the trauma she has after Clayton was put inside and knowing her son is a murderer. He resents her a lot but a lot of it is bravado because he doesn’t want to show his softer side. She has seen him in prison she hasn’t been back.
She ends up making a pact with Gail, what can you reveal about that?
Shona found out about David turning the car into a suicide vehicle and she makes a deal with Gail because Gail is worried Shona will tell people what David was planning to do. When Shona found out that is what prompted her to go and see Clayton and then she confesses to Gail that she’s his mother. She has to get it off her chest. She confesses to Gail and they make a pact not to tell anybody. Knowing David he’s not one to take things lightly anyway. If he did find out it would be quite explosive.
There was a lot of fan speculation about who Shona really is, what was your favourite rumour?
My favourite theory was that I’m Kylie’s mum I’m pretty sure Paula and I are the same age. A lot of people think I’m connected to Callum and with Shona visiting Kylie’s grave a lot of people think that I knew her, but not the fact that I knew her killer. In a nice way it has thrown people off the scent a bit it’s been enjoyable because it means more theories have come up and they’re really bubbling and keeping people talking.
Was it hard not to reveal who she really is?
It’s been so hard to keep the secret. When I got the job I was working here for a couple of months before I appeared on screen so I sort of moved up from London on the sly so it’s been really difficult and I’m really excited about it being revealed finally.
Do you think the audience will support her now they know who she really is?
I’m hoping that they’ve got to know her enough to hold on to that because she is a good egg. Underneath it all she’s a survivor and she makes decisions based on self-preservation. I hope they’ve seen her good heart as well underneath it all. She didn’t kill Kylie, I know she’s lied but it’s for the right reasons in her head.
Are you hopeful you can stay for a long time?
I’m very hopeful she’ll last this is my dream job. I’m optioned, I’m here until October for definite. I’ve singed a contract and then I’m optioned indefinitely. If the audience like the character and my work enough, then fingers crossed. Since I graduated from drama school 5 years ago I’ve mainly done Shakespeare plays and voiceover. This is my first television job and it’s on Coronation Street which I’ve watched since I was born. I had my 5th birthday party at Granada Studios because I wanted to be on that street. It’s wonderful. Do you remember the Granada Studios Tour and you could go to Baker Street and around the sets. I was a huge fan. I was fuming because I couldn’t go in the Rovers but it was great. Bet Lynch was my hero. Without a doubt, she had this lovely pair of kitten heel slippers, pink ones with fluff on, I loved them, they were great. No because they used to open it to the public. It was a Monday because they didn’t film on the street on a Monday so they would open it to the public..
What’s it like working with David Neilson, who plays Roy?
Working with David Neilson is wonderful he’s so funny, everyone has made me feel so welcome. We play daft games between tapes where you sing the first line of a song and have to guess the rest of it. he was in character and I said Roy makes me really-nervous because he was hovering near me and he just said, he makes me nervous too.
Are you concerned about the comparisons between yourself and Paula Lane, who played Kylie?
At first I was worried about that, but Kylie and Shona are completely different characters. I know they both had children young and come from the same place but Shona has an optimism about her character that Kylie didn’t. I don’t think she’s as brash. Paula is such a fantastic actress that I’m not following in her footsteps but I’m walking next to them in a way.
What’s the reaction been like from fans?
I’ve started to notice people glancing but no one has approached me, but I don’t think I look very much like Shona in real life. I wear my hair down a lot and no make up so usually I get away with being me. It may change as the story progresses and people find out about Clayton.
How does it feel to be on the show?
It’s been wonderful, even my first day. I’ve made sure that everybody has known it’s my first job and everyone has been so helpful. I don’t feel shy to ask questions. I’ve done short films but it’s such a different pace here. Everyone has been really helpful.
What was it like on your first day having been such a fan of the show for so long?
It was great because I know it. I know these sets, because I grew up watching it I knew where the kettle in Roy’s Rolls before I even set foot on the set so it felt familiar in a really comforting way which helped me settle in a lot. I remember my first scene with Bill Roache. I’ll always remember it, in the scene I was serving him. I said, ‘I’ll be with you in a minute,’ that‘s the first thing Shona said to Ken Barlow, so it was cool. Obviously it’s an institution, the longest running soap, it’s the mix of drama and comedy. I love that about it. You can be in any mood and watch it, you can cry and you can laugh. I laugh out loud some times when I read the script the one liners. It goes back to the day of Ena Sharples the queen of one liners.
Would you like to see her get a boyfriend?
I’d like her not to be single, I’d like her to explore a relationship, and her past relationships haven’t been that great so it would be nice for her to be happy and find love.
Having started out in Shakespeare, were you worried about any snobbery towards the soaps?
I don’t think there is a snobbery about soaps anymore. There shouldn’t be, you work so hard. it’s a different type of work but at the end of the day we’re all artists practising our craft in different ways.
Who do you think attacked Ken Barlow?
I try not to find out what’s happening in other storylines so I can still watch it at home. I still really enjoy it. Maybe Eccles. He could have just tripped over him, you never know.
Do you still watch the show now you are in it?
Some people don’t like to watch themselves, other people do. I watch myself to see how I’m getting on and how I can sort of improve. Sometimes I watch it thinking, look at those lines, look how many grey hairs you’ve got but it’s not often and I try not to because it‘s the character not me.