New arrival on Coronation Street Isla Haywood is guaranteed to ruffle some feathers.
The character, being played in the ITV soap by Hull actress Gemma Oaten, first meets newly single Tyrone Dobbs when her daughter Darcy attends a party with Hope, Tyrone’s daughter.
But there’s going to be trouble on the cobbles when Tyrone, played by Alan Halsall, who agrees to go out for a drink with flirty Isla, discovers she is married.
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“There’s a breakdown of the character of Isla I read that’s brilliant,” said former Emmerdale star Gemma, who is playing Isla for four episodes, debuting the part on Wednesday, November 10.
“One of the descriptions of her was that she is the kind of girl who will pay to go on a coach to Marbella just to be seen but she’s actually going to Fuerteventura.
“Another is that she is Cheryl Cole before she got spruced up, which was hilarious.”
Getting the gist of who she might get chance to play, Gemma slapped on some make-up and a “tarty” top and “went for it” on the self-tape she prepared for her audition.
Once she landed the part, it was Gemma’s responsibility to create Isla’s hair and make-up on the Coronation Street set too because of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Isla is worlds away from Rachel Breckle,” said Gemma, comparing the new character to her alter-ego in ITV’s Emmerdale.
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“She is feisty – which to be honest Rachel was a bit – and she’s bold. She’s quite brave and courageous. She knows who she is and owns it, something that Rachel struggled with.
“Isla’s definitely cheeky and I feel there’s that light and spark in her that she wants more, and I think that’s part of me as well.
“She’s fur coat – I was going to say, and no knickers – but she does wear knickers, don’t worry.
“Isla is a bit flirty and sexy – I don’t feel like that at all so we’re worlds apart in that.
“She’s glam and sets her sights on Ty, and who wouldn’t like Ty? He has a heart of gold, he’s a bit geeky and a bit sheepish but you can tell he has the best heart.
“The moment he stands up to another character Penny at a kids’ party, Isla is, ‘go on, lad’.
“I think there’s a connection there because you can tell Isla really loves her daughter and she sees that in Ty as well.
“Even in those few episodes we can see her partner Tony isn’t a good dad.”
Gemma said there was a discussion with the writers on whether Isla, being married, would ask Tyrone out for a drink – the storyline sees the two parents and their daughters heading off for milkshakes before Isla suggests another drink with the lovelorn dad.
“We talked about whether this was something Isla would do on a regular basis. She’s clearly fighting for her husband’s attention," Gemma said.
“If we were to dig a bit deeper and Isla came back, there were elements that were kept open to explore.
“I understand what it feels like when you love someone and it’s not reciprocated, you give so much and you don’t get it back. It makes you behave in strange ways.”
Viewers will see Tyrone’s estranged partner Fiz furious with him that he has agreed to a date with Isla, but things will get even worse for unlucky-in-love Tyrone.
When Tyrone and Isla head out on their date, a man approaches and, introducing himself as Tony, Isla’s husband, punches Tyrone and sends him flying.
“Yes, he very quickly gets punched in the face,” said Gemma, ruefully.
“Isla is in the middle seeing that Tony will fight for her but when Ty gets punched, she is saying, what are you doing?
“It’s where some of the realities of their relationship hit home.
“I’d like to see her come back and apologise to Ty and give him a confidence boost, he’s not doing very well at the moment is he, poor lad?
“Fiz and Phil (her new beau) see it all as well, I just wanted to go and hug him.
“It was a dream working with Alan, he’s just so easy to talk to. It’s scary as a character when you have to do relationship stuff on camera but when you have a connection with someone, you know you are safe, and Alan gave me the ability and confidence to do those scenes.
“I’m not a confident person when it comes to approaching men for dates, I have to act that.”
Gemma's debut episode will air on ITV on Wednesday, November 10.
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