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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Claire O'Boyle

Corrie's Kel Allen and co-stars broke down in tears filming emotional exit scenes

Choking back tears as she lay propped up in a hospital bed, Coronation Street's Kel Allen could barely meet her co-star’s gaze.

Bracing herself for some of the most heart-wrenching scenes of her career, she was in pieces before the cameras even started rolling for her final moments on the cobbles as Laura Neelan.

Viewers will see her final episode tonight as Laura succumbs to cancer – with the secret murder of Weatherfield’s lovable bad boy Gary Windass, played by Mikey North, in jeopardy of coming out.

Kel, 38, says: “Mikey and I were both emotional wrecks. It was my last day so it was a lot anyway, and then everything in these scenes was just so emotional.

Laura is dying of cancer (ITV)

“Normally, we’re laughing on set but that day we couldn’t look at each other because every time we did we started crying. We were like, ‘Someone has got to put these cameras on us and start filming as we can’t hold off much longer’.

“The production team were the same, everyone was just falling apart with what was going on. It’s such emotional scenes – you definitely need the tissues on a day like that.”

Corrie fans have watched for weeks as Laura, mum to troubled teen Kelly, has grown increasingly ill after a diagnosis of terminal stomach cancer.

After years of appalling parenting – as well as some moments of classic Corrie comedy gold – the hopeless mum has made steps to redeem herself by taking the blame for the murder of her evil ex Rick so his real killer Gary can care for Kelly (Millie Gibson) after Laura’s death.

Kel Allen is exiting the ITV soap tomorrow night (ITV)

Tomorrow's episode will see the dying mum desperate to say a final goodbye to her daughter.

Kel, who grew up in Wigan, says: “As an actor, you’ve got to be able to go to dark places for those scenes and it’s quite hard sometimes to put a lid on it when you’re done for the day.

“If you’re filming eight or nine scenes a day, you’re crying for hours at a time. It can be really draining.”

But after experiencing loss in her own life, she says Corrie writers got the tone just right, balancing tears with laughter – including a boozy afternoon in the Rovers with gobby Bernie Winter, played by Jane Hazlegrove, when she should have been resting.

Kel explains: “We lost my grandma Mildred not too long ago. That was to bowel cancer. In her final days, we all got together as a family and we had a huge party with her to celebrate her life.

“She had her family around her chatting, singing, just how she always liked it.

“We had Gary Barlow playing – she loved Gary Barlow – and again we found that humour and light through it all.

“Going through everything I have with this storyline does bring you back to those times, and I think the balance in how we’ve done it makes it ring true for people.

Laura and daughter Kelly have had a fractious relationship (ITV)

“When this storyline was pitched to me I thought, ‘I’ve got to take this’.

“To be able to put all of those things together, the comedy with Laura getting drunk with Bernie, and you put it in the middle of something so tragic as this young woman losing her life. It’s very powerful.”

Sadly, Kel’s gran, who relished the soap, did not live to see her granddaughter as Laura.

But she says: “If my grandma was still here, she would have loved it. She was such a Coronation Street fan.

“Back when we didn’t have pausing or rewinding, my grandma would have the house full with 15 grandchildren and we would all be playing.

In the past, Laura and Gary have never seen eye to eye (ITV)

“When the Corrie theme tune came on, everyone would crowd around the telly. I know how much she adored it. She’d have been as proud as punch.”

Bringing her much-loved Wigan accent to primetime has been a stand-out achievement for Kel.

“I tend to ham it up a bit for Laura,” she laughs. “I like to make it a bit stronger if anything. I think it works.”

Kel, who appeared briefly on the soap in 2018 as strip club manager Lulu Lockett and played a high-end escort in Emmerdale, is looking forward to her next challenge.

She says: “I’ve got auditions coming in and I’m interested in doing real gritty dramas. Something to get my teeth into. But I’d never say never to some theatre and I love a sing song, a bit of musical theatre, so who knows?”

*Coronation Street airs on ITV, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm.

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