Tucked into a cosy booth in the Rovers Return, Helen Flanagan is feeling emotional.
The actress is back on the Coronation Street set after a five-year absence, but it’s her 19-month-old daughter, Matilda, who is playing on her mind.
“It was my little girl’s first day at nursery today, and I knew I would cry,” explains Flanagan, who’s reprised her role as wild child Rosie Webster in the hit ITV soap.
“It’s so difficult for any mum, no matter what their job is.”
A lot has changed for Flanagan since she previously stepped down from playing Sally and Kevin Webster’s troubled daughter back in 2012.
There was a stint in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! for starters, plus plenty of sexy photo shoots and gossip column inches before she and footballer boyfriend Scott Sinclair welcomed baby Matilda into the world in June 2015.
After a year and a half at home with her “beautiful baby girl”, the 26-year-old received an email from Corrie’s producers, inviting her to return.
And despite missing Matilda, Flanagan says she’s “over the moon” to be treading the cobbles again.
There’s the chance to get dolled up as image-conscious Rosie, for one thing.
“I always have the longest make-up time, but that’s what I love. When I’m home with Matilda, I have no time to get glamorous at all,” says the star, who’s dressed in skinny jeans, a grey jumper, and stylish knee-high boots.
Then there’s the joy of being reunited with her on-screen family and close friend Brooke Vincent, who plays her sister Sophie.
Perhaps most exciting of all, though, is getting the chance to catch up with aspiring model Rosie, who waved goodbye to Weatherfield when she landed a part in a reality TV show in London.
Drama was never far away when Rosie last lived in on the Street (who could forget her romance with teacher-turned-killer John Stape?), and her comeback looks set to be just as riveting.
She makes her first reappearance when, much to Sally and Kevin’s shock, Sophie returns from a trip to Miami with her “whirlwind” sister in tow. And, unbeknown to her parents, Rosie is hiding a secret.
“She has definitely come back a nicer character,” says Bury-born Flanagan, who was just nine years old when she first appeared in Corrie.
“I much prefer playing Rosie with a good heart. I didn’t like it when they made my character a bit too catty, when she was having an affair with John Stape, but she was young and probably a bit careless. I just like the fun comedy bit.”
With an active toddler at home and regular trips to Scotland to visit Celtic winger Sinclair, there’s little chance for downtime between takes.
“Now I have no time to learn my script when I go home because I just want to play with my little girl, so I’ve been doing them on set. A lot of the mums here learn on set, then leave work at work.”
And the three-hour drives to see Sinclair are crucial to Flanagan.
“I really think that’s important for us as a family, to have that time together. Scott’s been really supportive, as I’ve been really supportive of his career. I think it’s healthy for us to do our own things.”
Rosie Webster is back in Coronation Street on TV3 from Monday.
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