Actress Suranne Jones loves life in Manchester

PUBLISHED: 10:32 27 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:25 20 February 2013

Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones

She's still best-known for being Karen in Coronation Street, but Suranne Jones tells<br/>Living Edge why she's right at home doing theatre in her home city<br/><br/>WORDS BY JANET REEDER

Actress Suranne Jones is glowingly fit and downright lovely on a murky winter day in Manchester. Shes just come from rehearsals for the Royal Exchanges production of Blithe Spirit and is clearly having fun playing Ruth, the wife of a chap who invites an eccentric medium into the home with lots of comedy consequences.

Although best-known for her TV performances as Karen McDonald in Coronation Street and alongside Ray Winstone in Vincent, Suranne was an early convert to the demanding world of theatre.

I started out at 10 in Waiting for Dark which was made into a film with Audrey Hepburn and I got my first taste of working with adult actors, she reveals. The story was about a blind woman who I helped. I was the only child in the play and I thought Ummm I like doing this.

More than 20 years later and shes performing at the Royal Exchange Theatre which she admits she visits as often as she can.

I see pretty much everything here, she says. I love the diversity of the Exchange and the studio, which is a great place creatively.

Set in the 1930s, her role in Blithe Spirit is a far cry from Corries feisty Karen or indeed the actress herself who although she has bags of charisma is natural with it. She speaks the part with an uppercrust accent:

Everybody else, they already talk like that, she jokes.

So I have to go to voice lessons, like the naughty schoolgirl. They get to go home then its OK, Miss Jones can you stay behind? But you know I think its a challenge. It will either sit well with people or it wont and if people are coming to see Karen McDonald theyre obviously not going to see her here.

She continues: For me its five years away (since doing Corrie). Five years is a long time and touch wood I have worked constantly and yeah, its such a different thing. Ive just worked on a BBC drama thats out in January called Five Days (with David Morrissey) and that was a three-month job which was brilliant in so many different ways to doing a three-month job in the theatre. Im very lucky or greedy to be
doing both.

Unlike, some soap actors who find themselves down The Bill/Holby route she really does seem to have broken free of her soapstar past.

I really dont know what my success is. I know that I work hard and Im passionate about every project that I take on. I dont take jobs just because I want to stay in work because I am at a position where I can afford my mortgage and I can afford my car and for now thats all I need to do. Ive not got any grand plans.

Part of her research for the role in Blithe Spirit will include a visit to a psychic and while shes never been to a sance she says she likes to keep an open mind. She did visit a palm reader a couple of times but I cant tell you! she exclaims when pressed on whether the predictions came true.

You know what? The last person who read my palm basically gave me a character analysis which was extremely accurate, she deviates ever so slightly from the subject.

Now she could have just looked me up on Google and recognized me off TV but there were certain things she said and I thought, Ooh. OK. I dont quite know what I believe but I am certainly open to suggestions.

Home for Suranne is now in South Manchester. She did have two stints trying to live in London.

The last time I came back I just thought I want a little bit of space, I want to be with my family, I want a dog so I got all that.

Her pet is a little Jack Russell called Baxter. She pulls out her I Book and shows a picture of the cutest pooch in a bow tie, insisting she doesnt always dress him up.

My rider in my last job was that I had to be able to bring my dog on set. Obviously I cant do that here but he used to come to work with me every day. I did a Facebook page for him Baxter on set to which a couple of my friends said Thats it. Im not talking to you any more! And no. I didnt always want a dog. Maybe its my maternal stage kicking in.

She says family is the most important thing to me but having been in relationships all her adult life, shes giving being single a go. When shes not working, training for the London marathon or fundraising for charity she loves hanging out with friends like Antony Cotton who she studied with in Oldham and his boyfriend Peter. I can have the most amazing night at their house. I just adore them, she says. She doesnt go to flash parties but likes eating out at Alberts Shed and Grado in Manchester.

And at 31-years-old she has surprised herself by being single for nearly a year.
Ive had about four main relationships from being quite young. The last one was three years and the one before that I was going to get married and that was three years so. I think I finally wondered: Whats it like being on your own? Ive never experienced that and Ive been single nearly a year and its great. Ive had offers now and then - just none of
them stick.

Clearly being in one of the countrys most famous TV programmes had an affect on her personal life.

She explains: Soap fame is different to any other fame. Youre in peoples living rooms five times a week and they think they really know you and you get used to it. But if youre out with friends or a boyfriend - they cant ever have you completely, because in public you are THAT girl from Corrie. You start to apologise for that and I think thats the sad part. But being on my own, its lovely to have people coming up to say I love you on the TV because theyre the ones who pay your rent and keep you in the programme. But I dont really get that sort of fame now anyway. Its lovely now that I can just hide.

Blithe Spirit, by Noel Coward, is on at the Royal Exchange Theatre
December 9th - January 23rd.
0161 533 9833
www.royalexchangetheatre.org.uk

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