Coronation Street’s Rob Mallard has made a serious splash since joining the show as Ken Barlow’s son Daniel Osborne.
Over recent weeks soap fans have started to see the many layers that make up Daniel, and there’s even more to come as the show’s writers explore the character and what’s really going on behind those steely eyes.
SoapSquawk recently caught up with Rob who explains how he got into character, why Bill Roache, his on screen dad, thinks they are similar and why it’s sometimes hard being in the public eye.
How did you prepare for the role of Daniel?
When I got the part I went back and watched a lot of the old clips of Bill as Ken, especially ones of him fighting, there’s lots of those! I wanted to see how Ken considered himself, not as posh, but just above the rest of the people around him, the anger he had in him and also the way he wooed women back in the day. Ken doesn’t do much of that these days, well, actually maybe he still does! I brought my grandma in the other week, she started blushing as Bill was leaning on the side all smooth, I’m like, ‘There’s the old Ken, he hasn’t gone anywhere!’. In the description I was first given of the character it did say Daniel was a young Ken Barlow, so I thought I had to look at what the young Ken Barlow was like.
Do people say you look like a young Bill Roache?
It was actually only after getting the job that people started saying I looked like him back in the day. I’ve had people write to me saying they can see the comparisons to the way Bill was in the early 70s. So there’s been a lot of comparisons with Ken, the hair definitely has something to do with it and also the way Daniel dresses. Bill can see it too. He brought an old picture of himself into make-up one morning and went round showing it to everyone saying he couldn’t believe how closely we resemble each other, he loves it! It’s all about the flick of the hair!
You might look similar but do you think they have similar personalities?
They are very similar in a lot of ways but they are also very different. Ken had a stable upbringing, went to university and then came home and had ideas above his station. Daniel didn’t do that, as we’ve found out, he’s been on his own since he was 14, Ken’s trying to correct his life mistakes by planning Daniel’s life for him, he doesn’t see their differences, only their similarities.
What advice have you had from Bill?
He’s always just told me to make sure I learn my lines, for good reason, because the volume of what we have to say can often be overwhelming, so you end up not having a proper grasp of what you’re saying. Outside of that, I said to him, ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying this but you’re very sharp for an 84 year old, is it because you learn so many lines?’. He said that’s exactly why he’s the way he is, having to learn lines every day has kept him sharp.
Do you feel the pressure of walking in Bill’s footsteps?
It’s a tough act to follow but I told Bill that he’s got a very nice coat, I said, ‘I’m 40 years off it, I’m just behind you on this coat!’. I’m not sat here now thinking I am going to be here until I am 84 because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. He didn’t do that either, you can never take anything for granted. I’m trying not to think about the pressure! I don’t feel any pressure to emulate him, but I do feel pressure to not ruin the dynamic or the legacy of the Barlows. They have all worked together for years and they have a really good working dynamic, I didn’t want to come in, do my thing and it not to work. Thankfully, I don’t think that’s happened. More than anything I am just glad that Bill’s enjoying what I am doing because it would have been awful if he hadn’t.
Would you like to see Daniel do some bed-hopping like Ken?
I’d like him to be a womaniser like Ken but not be just a bed hopper. Even though Ken has cheated and slept around a lot, women still find him attractive, the same goes for Peter, he’s a bigamist and all sorts but women forgive him. Girls love a bad boy. There’s something about the Barlow boys that women forgive. So I don’t want him to be a bed hopper as such, but I definitely want him to have more experiences in that department. Sinead’s his first sexual partner, but most people don’t stay with their first.
Daniel’s been getting steamy with Sinead, how do you find those scenes with Katie McGylnn?
Me and Katie just have a laugh about them really. The scene where we smashed up against the box of knickers was actually done over a few weeks. We filmed the first bit before Christmas and the rest after. I don’t mind them though, I don’t run into them going, ‘Yes! I get to kiss Katie!’, because i am aware that while I might not have a problem with it, Katie may. I have to make sure I look after her, she might not be entirely comfortable with it for whatever reason. We agreed to actually keep the kissing for when the cameras were rolling so we never did it in rehearsals. That was more my idea, I’ve had five colds since I started here so I didn’t want to pass on the germs to her!
There’s been lots of stripping off on telly thanks to the likes of Poldark and Tom Hiddleston in Night Manager, how do you feel about naked scenes?
When it comes to nudity, it’s all over the place at the moment, it’s everywhere, Game of Thrones, Orange Is The New Black, I’m surprised Stephen Hawking didn’t have his top off constantly in The Theory of Everything. Sex sells, doesn’t it? I always joked that I should have it written into my contract that I never have to do a topless scene, keep Daniel’s clothes on, let’s not subject the nation to that! I think it’s more a novelty to keep your clothes on these days. The great thing about Daniel is he’s not a sexy character, people may find him sexy but he’s no Adam, he doesn’t rely on his looks.
How are you coping with the fame that comes with being on the show?
The guard comes up and that’s probably why people end up going out with people in the industry. When I have been out with cast members before I was on screen I would watch them to see how they dealt with people coming up to them in bars. People like Chris Gascoyne, who have dealt with it for years, just take control of the situation and gets it down, but there is an immediate barrier that goes up when people come up to meet you. I imagine that you could meet the love of your life and you won’t actually meet them because the barrier has gone up. You only ever have intimate moments with people who are in the job because that barrier doesn’t go up with them. The fame side of this show makes you self-centered, not on purpose, but however many people watch the show they don’t all walk around with a sticker on that says, ‘I love Corrie’. So when you’re out everyone is a potential fan of the show, so it makes you think that everyone is going to recognise you, it makes you think you’re more famous than you are. You have to be careful now that everyone has camera phones, I’m fortunate in that my days of falling asleep in a club are over!