Coronation Street star Mikey North has spent an impressive 15 years playing Gary Windass in Coronation Street. The actor joined the ITV soap in 2008 alongside the character's parents Eddie, played by Steve Huison and Anna, portrayed by Debbie Rush.
He has often found himself on the wrong side of the law but back in 2010, after a two-month stint in prison, he did try and turn his life around and signed up to the army. But his career in the armed forces was short-lived as his squad was ambushed in Afghanistan and, despite making a full recovery physically, Gary suffered crippling PTSD.
Over the years we have seen Gary, who became a builder, turn debt collector and become a soap villain after causing the death of Rana Habeeb in the Underworld factory sabotage before killing Rick Neelan, the father of Kelly who is now in his care following her mum's death earlier this year.
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But of late, Gary appears to have turned a new leaf and Corrie viewers are used to seeing him as a bit more of a family man with wife Maria, her son Liam and now Kelly. However, things look set to change next week when he springs into action to help Kelly after she's kidnapped and kept prisoner in a cellar.
This week, Gary will find out that Kelly has been heading off to meet her dad Rick Neelan's former clients in a bid to right his wrongs and give them his dirty money. He is furious, knowing what kind of people the late loan shark was dealing with. But the teen refused to listen to Gary's pleas and continues with her plans.
But things suddenly go wrong and Kelly finds herself being captured by one of her dad’s evil old clients, Kieron, after she tracks him down to pay him back his money and left terrified that her days are numbered. Back on the street, Gary and Maria realise Kelly has not been home all night and when Aadi Alahan tells them she went to see another of her dad’s old clients Gary panics.
Kieron gives Kelly her phone and tells her to text Gary to tell him she is fine. But when Gary gets the text telling him to let her mum know she is ok he knows something is not right. Kieron then starts making threats, phoning Gary from Kelly's phone and tells him that if he wants to see Kelly alive again, he needs to come up with £50k.
It's not long before he springs into action and is soon forcing his way into the cellar revealing to Kelly he had put the tracking device in the money bag he had already presented to Kieron. But just when they are about to escape when Keiron arrives wielding a crowbar. A fight ensues and Kelly is shocked by how far Gary is willing to go.
Speaking about filming the scenes, Mikey told the Manchester Evening News and other press that they were the 'best' he's filmed in his time on the show. "Brilliant," he says of what the action-packed cellar scenes were like to film. "Listen, I've been involved in lots of fight scenes down the years but this was the best to film.
"It was like doing the Matrix. It was a two-minute scene... I'm not sure how much will make the cut but it was great fun. It was a really prolonged fight scene which was really nice to do and I enjoy doing all that. Hopefully, they can keep in as much as they shot but I'll believe it when I see it."
And there were not stunt doubles in sight. "We did it all ourselves," Mikey, 35, said. "We had our fight director there. It's like doing a dance we call it. It's the longest one I've been allowed to do since I've been there [at Corrie] and I've done 6,000 fights in my 15 years but this was the best. I just hope it doesn't end up on the cutting room floor."
As for how he prepares, Mikey laughed and said; "I think I'm just a frustrated stunt man when it all comes down to it. It's the most enjoyable part of the job for me - getting hit by cars and taking the odd punch here and there. I always look forward to doing that part of the job."
He added: "He is a bad lad deep down but I do enjoy the softer side to Gary and whenever I do get to do the lighter stuff, like dressing up in various clothes and doing a fitness DVD that was all good fun. And as I've got older, I've definitely appreciated the lighter side of Gary more. I think when I was younger it was about being as bad as possible."
And with soaps, it is unusual for killers to get away with murder for long without having to exit. When asked how he's managed to avoid the same fate, Mikey joked: "I've paid the producer off every year to get a contract renewal. That's it!"
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