South Yorkshire’s TV queen Katherine Kelly is about to walk away from all the fame and fortune for a well-earned break as she takes on the biggest role of her life as a mum, writes Graham Walker.
Not that she’ll be disappearing from our screens.
She’s just finished filming a second series of Mr Selfridge, which will be broadcast early next year around the time she is due.
The 33-year-old former Coronation Street favourite, who played feisty Becky McDonald, is in huge demand for other top dramas, after winning top awards and also starring in The Field of Blood, The Last Witch and The Guilty.
She has also been deservedly crowned Yorkshire Woman Of 2013.
All that in the past year since the hardest working woman in television quit the Street. Katherine was back home in Barnsley to support her 62-year-old dad John’s latest production at the Lamproom Theatre.
She wed Australian digital analyst Ryan Clark, also 33, in a low-key service in Las Vegas this summer and a month later announced she was pregnant.
“Are you suggesting that my daughter had to get married?” says John, as father and daughter burst into laughter. His jokes keep coming.
“She’s married an Aussie, so if it’s a boy she’s going to call him Ned. Ned Kelly,” beams John, with a sense of giddy pride at his anticipation of becoming a grandad for the first time.
Kate, as she is affectionately known back home, is equally full of pride for her dad and mum, Anne, who are committed to helping other young actors and actresses at the charity run Lamproom Theatre, in Westgate.
She has been spending rare time off helping to make costumes for The Lamproom Youth Theatre Ensemble’s production of Second World War musical Keep Calm And Sing For Victory.
The production, written and directed by her dad John, with mum Anne as producer, gets its world premiere tonight and runs at the town’s little Lamproom Theatre on Westgate, Barnsley, until Saturday, November 2.
But she is determined to get the work-life balance just right as the baby approaches.
She said: “The baby is due early next year – it will also be the first grandchild. So yes, I’m going to take a good six months off at least, to enjoy that. We don’t know what we’re having – it’s a nice surprise. We’ve not really thought of any names yet. I’m only halfway at the moment. We’ll see.
“But it’s important to me to get that work life balance right. I know everyone thinks their own mum is just brilliant, but I do think mine is an exceptional mum. She’s utterly selfless and I’m really hoping that those genetics kick in on this baby’s arrival.
“I still want to be an actress and work, as most women do these days. I know all of my friends certainly do and not just the ones who are actresses. So it’s all about balance. I won’t necessarily be off-screen, because Mr Selfridge starts in January. That’s the thing with filming. You can be filming things all year and then they all suddenly come out at once.”
On being named Yorkshire Woman Of The Year she said: “It still seems a bit unreal. I felt humbled, especially when you sit there and look at the long list of people that have won the award before and not just actresses.
“The thing about people from Yorkshire is that when they give you something like this they really mean it. They’ll certainly tell you when they don’t think you are very good. I don’t really think about how I might inspire people. Perhaps when I’ve got this time off with the baby I’ll be able to sit back and see things more clearly. You don’t really have time to sit back and give yourself a pat on the back.
“The only reason I got into acting was because I was fortunate enough that my mum and dad loved amateur dramatics.
“There’s only myself and my sister that are in this profession. My brothers have got proper jobs and they are quick to tell me.”
John said: “I’m very, very lucky – I’ve got four superb kids. Kate takes the limelight because of all she does. But I’m very proud of all of them, I really am.
“Her younger brother Sean is working at the regional burns unit. He’s a highly successful doctor. Chris, the one below, is a superb enterprising man who is going to live in America. He had companies when he was 24 years of age.
“And Grace, the youngest one, I watched her on stage in Los Angeles on several occasions last year and the year before – brilliant actress, who has come back to England and hopefully about to start making a career here.”
Kate may have waved goodbye to Corrie but she will never-say-never to returning as Becky.
She said: “I love Corrie. I watch it and of course Becky would go back to see Haley and Roy. Of course she would. I wish I could.
“But it’s not that easy. It’s logistically very difficult. I signed up for Mr Selfridge this time last year. So I was booked up for a full year.”
As for other offers, she added: “A lot of my decisions depend on what I’ve just done as well, because I like variety and challenges. Mr Selfridge came just at the right time after I had been playing Becky. It was so opposite and I just really fancied it.
“By the same token I’m not picky about whether it’s television, theatre, radio or film.
“Yorkshire folk go that extra mile really and do pick up the phone to vote for you at national television awards and do come and buy a ticket for the latest LYTE show and come and watch it. I feel very proud.”
Tickets for Keep Calm And Sing For Victory are £9 adults, concessions £8. Buy in person at The Lamproom Theatre, call 01226 2000075 or visit www.barnsleylamproom.com.
VIDEO AND READ MORE: TV’s Katherine Kelly helps Barnsley Lamproom kids - CLICK HERE.
STAR OPINION: Katherine Kelly - A Woman To Inspire All.