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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jessica Sansome

ITV Corrie's Michael Le Vell shares actual first soap as he gets emotional over career highs

Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell has spent more of his life on-screen in the ITV soap than he has off it. The actor made his debut as Kevin Webster in Weatherfield in 1983, a few months before his 19th birthday.

Upon his arrival onto the cobbles, Kevin moved in with Hilda Ogden and he soon picked up a job as a mechanic at Brian Tilsley's garage. His father, Bill, and sister, Debbie, soon follow followed him onto the street but he decided to stay when Bill remarried and moved to Southampton with Debbie.

And over the years we have seen the character at the centre of some of the long-running programme's biggest storylines - most notably his on-and-off relationship and marriage with Sally and his affairs with Natalie Horrocks and Molly Dobbs, which resulted in his son Jack being born.

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However, some may be surprised to know that this wasn't even Michael's first time on the Corrie cobbles. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News and other press, Michael said when asked if he ever thought he'd still be playing Kevin now: "No, absolutely not. I came in as Neil Grimshaw first, a paperboy, for a few episodes.

"Judi Hayfield [a casting director on Corrie at the time], when that finished she said, 'we'll find something else for you.'" He then revealed: "I wasn't actually up for Kevin Webster. I was in the corridor waiting to audition for a programme called Scully and then Judi walked past and went, 'Am I seeing you tomorrow for Kevin Webster' and I said, 'No', and she said, 'leave it with me.'"

Michael then explained that he did end up going back the next day for an audition and he got the job. However, it was only for 12 episodes. So when that came to an end, he headed off to star in panto at the Oldham Coliseum but was soon getting a call from Corrie asking if he wanted to go back. "And that was nearly 40 years ago now," Michael said. "Time flies."

Michael during his first year on the ITV soap (Granada Television)

The 57-year-old actor, from Newton Heath, then went on to appear emotional as he recalled some if the highlights of his Corrie career. "It's funny, two people come up to me in Costco and they'd been watching the old episodes and it was the one where baby Jake died. I had that scene with Sally [Dynevor] where I broke down. He had a line... 'What am I supposed to do with all that love?' and it was really emotional stuff.

"When I got reminded of it, it all came back to me. I love doing these strong storylines where there's emotion. Like when Sally had to tell Kevin she had breast cancer." He then went on to recall when Kevin moved in with soap legend Hilda, and when his character saved Bet Lynch from a fire at the Rovers.

Kevin saving Bet from the fire in the Rovers in 1986 (Granada Television)

And after all this time, it would be hard not for Kevin to have rubbed off on Michael - and vice versa. "I think we're both very similar. You can't not play a character for 40 years and some of your personality not come through. It's not like you're playing a different character every week. I've been Kevin Webster for as long as I've been Michael Le Vell."

With his big anniversary ahead next year, Michael called be reviling soap stalwart William Roache who recently celebrated his 90th birthday and has spent 62 years playing Ken Barlow. Asked if he could imagine spending his 90th birthday on the soap, Michael said: "It's a nice though. As long as you can keep remembering your lines and where you work, yes of course." He added: "If my face still fits in 37 years time I'll be happy to still do it."

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