WHEN Kym Marsh quit Coronation Street in 2019 after 15 years playing barmaid Michelle Connor, she knew the risks were high.
Little did she know Covid would later rip through showbusiness and leave thousands of actors and entertainers out of work.
But against the odds the actress and former Hear’Say singer has stumbled into a new life as a daytime television host, and she is also currently starring in BBC1 drama The Syndicate.
And while many have found a year of lockdown a strain, for Kym the absence of international travel provided an opportunity to spend more time with her boyfriend Scott Ratcliff, a serving Army officer.
The Parachute Regiment major had been serving in Afghanistan but he was flown back as Covid restrictions took hold and has enjoyed a rare stretch back home with Kym, 44.
"He’s actually home,” she says, clearly delighted.
“He was due to go to staff college in September but we’ve ended up spending most of the past year together.
“I feel so lucky to be in this situation. It has given me the opportunity to have more time with Scott, my son David, my daughters Emilie and Polly and the rest of my family. I’m not taking those things for granted.”
She has also been busy with Morning Live, BBC1’s rival to ITV’s Lorraine and This Morning, launching it last year alongside co-host pal Gethin Jones.
More than 1.5million viewers tune in for the show each day, making it consistently the best-performing programme in its slot.
Kym puts its success down to good luck and the viewers’ connection with her after a roller-coaster life which, she admits, “has had its share of mistakes along the way”.
Kym has enjoyed TV and pop success together with a string of relationship woes and personal tragedies.
But in an exclusive interview she explains: “It might work because I’m quite normal, I’m not exactly Mrs Showbiz, am I?
“I’ve always felt you’ve got to take ownership of your mistakes. We wouldn’t be human beings if we didn’t make them, and I make them publicly.
“But I’d like to think people saw something normal in that. Perhaps it helps people relate to me a bit.
“I hope so. That would be nice. Or maybe I’ve just been lucky.”
Kym’s magazine-style morning show features topical discussions, health and lifestyle segments and celebrity guests — but she insists she has been keen to offer something different to rival daytime programmes.
She adds: “When I left Corrie I really didn’t expect to be hosting a show like this. I’d done little bits of presenting, but nothing on this scale.
“It’s live and quite big. When my agent told me, I asked, ‘Are you sure they mean me?’ So there was a risk for them and a risk for me, but fortunately it has just gone really well and now they have commissioned it for much longer, which I had never banked on.
“None of us could have dreamed of the success it has had.
"On top that, it has given me a whole new set of friends to hang out with on the sofa chatting each morning, which after a year of barely seeing anyone has been nice.
"I’m very lucky that I’ve been allowed to try my hand at so many different things, singing, acting, and now presenting.
"I almost don’t know what to call myself any more. I think my mum would refer to me as a Jack of all trades.”
While Kym’s new show is different to ITV’s This Morning — with more wholesome discussion and fewer novelty items — there is one similarity.
Like daytime rival Holly Willoughby, Kym has had to quickly get used to viewers’ constant scrutiny of her outfit choices.
She explains: “The shows are very different, but I do get the dress comments, that’s something I’m still getting used to.
“I’ve started to post a few bits and bobs on Instagram over the last 12 months, although I’m so not comfortable with posing.
"But I get a lot of questions about where things are from and it’s nice to engage with viewers about that.”
Of course, scrutiny over her image has been part of Kym’s career ever since she first found fame in 2001 on TV talent contest Popstars as a member of winning group Hear’Say.
The show featured memorably unpleasant exchanges with the show’s infamous judge “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe, who made jibes about her appearance and, in scenes which shocked the nation, ordered her to lose weight.
Twenty years on, Kym looks back at the experience light-heartedly, and admits there are hopes the band will mark their milestone anniversary.
She says: “We’re now in a position where we’re all in touch. We’ve been chatting over Zoom and reminiscing about old times.
"Talking about it all again, remembering what a journey it was that we’ve all been on, brings it all back. If I hadn’t been on that show I probably wouldn’t be sat here chatting to you now.
“It gave me an amazing start in my career and I will always be grateful for, and it was the first show of its kind.
"Nigel was rude about me, Simon Cowell booed us at the Brits and then launched his own shows off it. Looking back, it’s amazing all the things that we went through.
“So it’s worth celebrating and marking it and we’re all agreed it would be great to do something to celebrate.
"Whether that’s with all five of us or not, we hope we’ll make it happen and make something of the occasion.”
Kym appears in BBC1 lottery drama The Syndicate alongside Gaynor Faye and Neil Morrissey.
She plays mum Donna, who works at the local kennels, a part she jokes is “not quite as glamorous” as she had hoped for, but has proved a hit with fans.
Kym explains: “It was scary leaving Corrie, but I wanted to try other things and I felt like it was my chance to do it or I never would.
“I was lucky that I got The Syndicate shortly after I left. We filmed it last year but screening was held up.
"I know it wasn’t very glamorous — me stood on a doorstep of a house in my dressing gown looking dead rough every day.
“I don’t even know why I had a make-up call, because they just said, ‘No, you’re not having that, that and that’. It was hair scraped back, tabard on.
“But it was great, because Donna was so different to Michelle, and that was something I wanted to do.
“It was something completely different and I enjoyed playing the character. It’s a great script and funny.
"Sadly, my character didn’t get to go to Monaco with the others. Typical!”
And Kym will continue to see plenty of the north of England as BBC chiefs now plan to move Morning Live’s production from London to their Salford studios, which, Kym admits, is nearer her home and will make her life “a lot easier”.
She says: “It has been hard, like it has been for everyone.
"I’ve been trying to homeschool Polly, who has just turned ten, while heading back and forth to London all the time.
“I was starting to think I might have to move, which would bring new challenges moving kids and being away from family.
“But it has worked out great, and it’s great for the north to be represented on TV as much as possible.
“Unfortunately Scott’s Army barracks are in the south so it’s a double-edged sword.
“But we’ll make it work. Somehow, we always do.”
- The Syndicate airs on Tuesday nights at 9pm on BBC One. You can catch up with the series so far on iPlayer
Source: Read Full Article