Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jessica Sansome

ITV Coronation Street: Real life of Fiz Stape actress Jennie McAlpine - first soap role, own business, secret wedding and Corrie 'exit'

It would be hard to imagine Weatherfield without Fiz Stape - or Fiz Brown as she was when she arrived on the cobbles 21 years ago. She made her first appearance in the soap as a feisty teen fostered by Roy and Hayley Cropper after being neglected by her mother, Cilla Brown.

However, she spent most of the first decade on the famous street living with Maria Sutherland, now Maria Windass, at 2a Coronation Street, during which time she had relationships with Tyrone Dobbs and Maria's brother Kirk.

But it may come as more of a surprise that the Underworld machinist and antiques dealer, played by Bury actress Jennie McAlpine, was initially only meant to appear for five episodes but was quickly made a permanent character.

READ MORE: Real life of Coronation Street's Toyah Battersby actress Georgia Taylor - actual name, rarely seen famous partner and movie past

And over the years Fiz has been involved in plenty of gripping storylines including her serial killer late husband John Stape carrying out three murders and helping him to bury the bodies and she gave birth to their daughter Hope during Corrie's live 50th anniversary episode in 2010 with Jennie becoming the first actress to act out a birth live on a soap opera.

Last year there was heartache for Fiz when partner Tyrone Dobbs cheated on her with Alina Pop and now her exit from the cobbles is set to be aired next week on the ITV soap. Fiz will be seen getting ready to leave the street, packing the moving van with her boxes of belongings, in order to move in with her new boyfriend Phill Whittaker away from the famous cobbles.

But she soon drops a huge bombshell on Tyrone - confessing that she is worried she is making a big mistake. But learning from her past mistakes, the mechanic tells his former fiancée that she deserves a fresh start in a big house with a garden for the girls, Ruby and Hope, and is soon waving her off.

Jennie in her early days as Fiz in Corrie alongside Andy Whyment who plays Kirk Sutherland (ITV)

That isn't, however, the end of Fiz so fans need not worry as we'll soon see her and Phil replacing her terraced house with a posh Victorian home away from the close-knit community she spent most of her life in.

Acting, however, isn't where her career started out. Jennie's big break into the industry came in 1997 when she was just 13 years old, the Express reports. She came second in a Young Comedian of the Year competition run by Fanta in London and upon meeting TV presenter Jonathan Ross and Bolton-born comedian Peter Kay she was inspired to enter the following year where she placed second again.

A few years later Jennie bagged her first TV role - and it wasn't in Corrie. She actually appeared in Emmerdale from 1999 to 2000, playing the role of Michelle Morley, a school friend of Ollie Reynolds. She then left for Weatherfield at the age of 17 and has not left in 21 years.

Away from the soap, Jennie's life is a lot less dramatic with her having been happily married to restaurateur Chris Farr for five years after being introduced by her co-star who happens to be a bit of a serial matchmaker. Antony Cotton who plays the soap's Sean Tully, called Jennie to say: "I'm here with your future husband. Do you want me to put him on the phone?"

And the rest, as they say, is history with Jennie and Chris marrying in secret in January 2017 after more than a decade together. The pair said 'I do' at Trafford Town Hall, with only their son Albert and two witnesses from Trafford Town Hall present at the ceremony. It proved to be a change of heart for the actress, now 38, after she previously told the Daily Record: "I haven’t got time – for babies or marriage. I don’t like being the centre of attention so a big wedding isn’t for me."

Jennie and her husband Chris Farr (Manchester Evening News)

Jennie announced their happy news on Twitter by sharing a photo of their hands displaying their wedding rings. And one person who was, of course, in on the secret was cupid himself Antony, who has since gone on to introduce former Corrie star Kym Marsh to her now-husband Scott Ratcliff. He wrote on Twitter at the time: "Well at least we didn't have to keep that secret for too long!! We love the three of you very much."

Later speaking about her nuptials on Loose Women, Jennie said: “Secret isn’t the word. Surprise is more the word. We just wanted it so that our parents knew. My dad knows me and that’s what I would have done. Somebody said to me ‘weren’t your friends really annoyed?’ and I thought: ‘No I haven’t got any friends that would be annoyed with me.’

"I love a good wedding and I hope that I’m invited. For myself I just kind of wanted it low key. I didn’t want to be the centre of attention."

Jennie when celebrating Annies 4th anniversary back in 2016 (Manchester Evening News)

Jennie and Chris welcomed their first child together, Albert, in 2014 and a year after their wedding the soap star announced that she was pregnant with her second child, and gave birth to the child the same year to a girl they named Hilda. Jennie had previously hinted she might name the child after a character on the soap and she seemed to have stuck to it and opted for Hilda Ogden, played by Jean Alexander from 1964 to 1987.

Away from their family life, Jennie and Chris have actually gone into business together. Tea room and restaurant Annie's is located in Manchester's Royal Exchange and offers up a bit of everything - from Afternoon Tea to Sunday Lunch and we even spotted a hotpot on the menu.

Two years after its opening in 2012, Jennie said: "We wanted to do something together, and our whole family wanted to be involved. Chris is the experienced restaurateur, and I just like food. I have got no other skill or qualification for this, but I like meeting people."

Jennie in 2018 (Getty Images)

The business has faced its struggles in the past and like the entire hospitality industry has found itself having to battle back from various lockdowns and other restrictions over the last two years.

Jennie herself has also undergone an incredible transformation over the year and it was reported that she dropped three dress sizes after embarking upon a health and fitness journey.

She has told fans that getting into shape with mostly “common sense”. Jennie said that the followed a healthy diet, which in turn helped her lose weight and claimed that about the process: "It's not rocket science!"

But she also said back in 2009: "I refuse to talk about it because I don’t want to be responsible for a young boy or young girl reading that."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.