CORRIE favourite Kym Marsh will have two sad farewells this month – the first with her ITV co-stars, then her Army lover heading to the Middle East.
After 14-years playing Michelle Connor, viewers will see Kym on the Weatherfield cobbles for the last time in the run-up Christmas.
But in an exclusive interview, she says the biggest mental hurdle in the coming weeks will be waving off Scott Ratcliffe, 42, a Major in the Paras, as he goes on tour.
She explains: “There is always anxiety, it is always stressful when he goes away. There may not be an actual war threat currently but there’s always a risk when you’re in these dangerous places.
“And it can be extra worrying when you aren’t able to communicate for periods of time.
“If he’s on a base he can get in touch, but there are times when he is out on exercises and I don’t hear from him for three weeks because there is just no signal.
“In some areas there is just nothing, he went to Kenya and for two months we barely spoke a word.
“He always says that it’s the families at home who are the brave ones — they just don’t see themselves as brave at all.
“But it won’t be easy watching him go away, and I will worry until I see him again.”
Kym, who became a gran in May when eldest daughter Emilie, 22, gave birth to a baby boy, met Scott early last year after Corrie co-star Antony Cotton set them up.
Despite the challenges of living apart, the romance is going from strength to strength — even though Scott is regularly teased by comrades for dating a celebrity.
The former Hear’Say singer, also mum to David, 24, and Polly, eight, adds: “A bonus of leaving Coronation Street might be that I get to spend more time enjoying the other things in my life — the filming schedules can be very fast paced and you spend a lot of time there — but I’m not planning on slowing down, there are loads of new things that I want to do.
“Life can be a bit manic. When you factor in having a grandchild and an eight-year-old daughter I am like the old woman who lived in the shoe. It’s a bit like living in Mothercare at the moment.
“Scott lives on a base which is down south, but we make it work as it is for now. We’re happy with the balance we have and it works.
“He’s not interested in celebrity whatsoever, he never watches Coronation Street but he’s tremendously supportive and I have the utmost respect for what he does, and then we see each other at weekends.
“A stay-at-home-wife, I will never be.”
Kym agonised over leaving Coronation Street — previously considering a departure last year before finally telling bosses of her plans early in 2019.
She is now signed up to appear in a nationwide arena tour of Elf: A Christmas Spectacular, playing the heroine Jovie.
Kym says: “When Elf came up I just thought it could be interesting — I’m really excited about playing Jovie, and I started off playing big arenas in Hear’Say, so it’s going to be fun going back on stage.
It’s a massive production, there’ll be sleighs flying through the arena and an audience snowball fight. It’s family fun and I think people of every age will really enjoy it.
“I even get to work with my daughter Polly — it’s her first acting role.”
Kym and former partner Jamie Lomas faced the loss of baby son Archie in 2009, who was born 18 weeks early and survived just a few minutes.
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Despite her grief, Kym says the highlight of her Corrie career as Michelle was recreating a similar storyline in the hope of raising awareness of the issues faced by losing a baby.
She says: “They asked me first if I was OK to do it, but I wanted to raise awareness and my reasons for doing it were completely clear.
“I wanted to stop the taboo and get people talking about it.” She adds: “It did the job that I hoped it would do.
“And it wasn’t even just me that had lost a baby, (Corrie co-star) Simon Gregson and his wife had also gone through it. It was a subject most people don’t like to talk about, but it’s more common than people think.
“As a woman I felt really lonely and I blamed myself, and as a woman you do blame yourself, continuously, but is not your fault, it happens.
“There’s such a taboo around it and nobody likes to talk about it. I hope we did something to change that.”
As well as Elf, Kym has lined-up a presenting role for new BBC documentary For Love Or Money, exposing the tricks used by scammers to con unsuspecting victims out of cash while using online dating apps and websites.
And her exit from the soap has already prompted rumours online that she could be heading into the ITV jungle for I’m A Celebrity or planning a stint on Strictly Come Dancing.
But chatting over lunch in London, it’s clear she’s thinking long-term.
Kym says: “I didn’t quit Corrie to do a reality show — not any of them.
“I’ve got an itch that I need to scratch in terms of trying new things — I’d like to do dramas, and a bit of theatre, but something different — maybe play a psychopath or something.
“I’d love to do a bit more presenting too, but fortunately I seem to be one of the few people that’s allowed to do everything, I’ve done music, acting, presenting, and theatre.
“I can’t see a Hear’Say reunion on the cards, but I’d love to do a one-off show, maybe just for Manchester Pride.”
Despite her continued success, she never forgets her life before fame when she was poor and struggling to raise her kids on benefits.
Kym, who lives in Warrington, Cheshire, says: “I will be a blubbering mess the day I finish in the next few weeks, I’ve got no doubts about that.
“I don’t have an exact day just yet but I start rehearsals for Elf in November, so it is imminent. Corrie has brought me so much, and it has been a different level of fame to Hear’Say.
Timeline of love and loss
2007: MICHELLE discovers her 15-year-old son Ryan is not biologically hers – and was swapped at birth in a hospital blunder.
Her actual son Alex then turns up with his parents before moving in with Michelle and clashing with Ryan. Alex leaves soon afterwards.
2011: Ended her engagement to Ciaran McCarthy (played by former Boyzone singer Keith Duffy) after he gambled away their wedding money.
When he was sacked from his Bistro where he was working on the side to pay back his debts, Ciaran came clean to Michelle.
She agreed to leave the Cobbles with him for a new life on a cruise ship – but she changed her mind at the last minute.
2017: Michelle suffered a devastating stillbirth, having her son Ruairi at 23 weeks in January.
In the aftermath she discovered her husband Steve McDonald (played by Simon Gregson) was the father of Leanne’s son – before dumping him.
2017: Michelle is attacked by deranged stalker Will Chatterton, who also puts Leanne Battersby in hospital.
She is saved by Steve after she was drugged and attempted to lock herself in a bathroom.
2018: She narrowly avoids death after being taken hostage and shot by baddie Pat Phelan (Connor McIntyre) on her wedding day.
“I thought I understood what it would be like because I’d been in a pop band, but it was something totally different.
“I’m so used to it now it doesn’t bother me. Most people are so nice. The only time it bothers me is if I’m with my kids, like sometimes, if I’m with Polly, I like to break off from it for her sake.
“I avoid certain things like public swimming pools because I’m not very comfortable in that situation. But I’m still the girl next door, from a council estate, in Wigan.
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“I had two kids when I joined Hear’Say so before I went into this industry I had two dependants and life was really tough, I lived on benefits and had no money.
“I’ve lived that life and it makes you appreciate it so much more.
“The biggest compliment anyone can pay me is to say that I haven’t changed, but I’m under no illusion that I’m a bit like Marmite, and for every nice tweet I get there’s somebody that will say, ‘your hair is s***!’”
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