WHEN Steven Arnold left TV’s Coronation Street it was in a dramatic tram crash, so he won’t be returning to the ITV soap any time soon – and that’s just the way he wanted it.
“I really wanted the character to be killed off because then you can turn a page in your life and start a new chapter,” explains the actor who played butcher Ashley Peacock and is now appearing as comedy policeman PC Pong in Woking’s major panto, Aladdin.
“From the perspective of work, if that character is dead you are not related to him all the time, he’s gone.
“When they told me he was going to go on the 50th anniversary for the live show I was over the moon.
“There was no bigger way to go, I didn’t want to leave waving goodbye from the back of a taxi.”
But, although he’ll never be back, Steven says he had a great time working on Coronation Street. “I made so many great friends and learned so much,” he says.
“I was very lucky to be partnered with John Savident, who played Fred. He’s such an experienced actor and was very unselfish.
“He taught me 90 per cent of what I know – he was incredible with me and we got on so well. I called him my second dad and he called me his surrogate son.
“Being in Coronation Street is one of those things you never shake off fully but in the future I do want to become known for doing other stuff.”
He’s now partnered up with CBeebies superstar Justin Fletcher for the pantomime at the New Victoria Theatre, and says: “Pantomime is always one of my favourite jobs of the year. I’ve worked with [co-star] Justin Fletcher before on Justin’s House, so it’s great to team up with him again.
“We’ll be doing our best to make sure the audience have a great time. Looking out and seeing a really mixed audience, with whole families having fun, is what it’s all about.
“I’m playing a funny policeman – I love doing comedy roles, there’s no better sound than an audience laughing. It’s so rewarding.”
Steven’s love of panto has come late as he admits he hardly went to the theatre as a child. “I didn’t really go when I was young except for one my dad took me to that had Ken Dodd in it,” he recalls.
“All I remember is coming out of the theatre with a bag of sweets and thinking it was brilliant. But pantomime is just such a good way of introducing children to theatre. When I started performing in them I felt like I really missed out and I wish I had gone to more when I was young.”
He’s particularly pleased to be appearing at Woking as it’s almost a ‘home fixture’ and he explains: “I only live 20 minutes outside Woking so I’ll be home for Christmas, which is ideal. I try and get myself to watch shows at the New Victoria Theatre at least once a month, so it’s brilliant for me to be performing there.”