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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jessica Sansome

Real life of Coronation Street's Aggie Bailey actress Lorna Laidlaw - kids' TV fame, rival soap role, 'disappearance', different look and first words from soap legend

It's been four years since Aggie Bailey made her first appearance in Coronation Street cobbles as the matriarch of the street's newest family. They were the first clan to arrive on the cobbles together since the Windass family in 2008 and the long-running soap's first black family.

The family - made up of Aggie, played by Lorna Laidlaw, dad Edison, known as Ed, played by former Holby City actor Trevor Michael Georges and their two sons Michael and James played by former CBeebies presenter Ryan Russell and West End performer Nathan Graham - moved into 3 Coronation Street, the former home of Emily Bishop and Norris Cole.

But in just a few short years the dynamics of the Bailey family have changed with James leaving the street to start a new life with a new job as a football coach after discovering he has cardiomyopathy after collapsing on the football pitch. Meanwhile, the never-before-seen but regularly mentioned Dee-Dee Bailey, Aggie and Ed's daughter played by newcomer Channique Sterling Brown, has since settled into Weatherfield life after reuniting with her family last year.

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In the last week on the ITV soap, viewers have seen Aggie and Ed taken aback when they bumped into Patrick and Yvette, their old neighbours, and Aggie was left quietly fuming when Yvette insists they join them for a drink with Ed's brother Ronnie and partner Debbie Webster.

Ed was later heard telling Dee-Dee that Aggie doesn’t want Yvette over for dinner, after insisting they relive their dinner parties together, as she’ll look down her nose when she sees where they live now. Hearing of their predicament, Tim Metcalfe suggested Aggie could borrow their house for the afternoon and pass it off as her own. After initially turning them down, Sally Metcalfe swept in and decided that they could use their house for them.

And by the end of the week, Aggie set about cooking dinner at No.4 as Sally paints on a smile, sensing that it was going to be a disaster. Right on cue, Tim appeared wearing Sally’s pink dressing gown, followed by Elaine baffled as to why their home was being taken over, just as Patrick and Yvette arrived for dinner, totally bewildered by the sight of Tim.

The Bailey's when they arrived on the cobbles (Joseph Scanlon/ITV/Coronation Street)

With the Bailey family back in the Corrie spotlight, we thought we'd take a look into the life of matriarch Aggie actress Lorna. And Corrie actually wasn't her first time in a soap.

Before appearing in the long-running, Salford-based show, the actress was best known to soap fans for her role as Mrs Tembe in Doctors. Lorna appeared in the BBC One show from 2011 to 2019, with the character starting out as a receptionist at The Mill, before becoming the Acting Practice Manager in 2015 and the Practice Manager in 2016.

Mrs Tembe faced some challenging storylines during her time in Doctors, from bullying in the workplace to a car crash and grief after two of her colleagues died. She left after becoming engaged to Reverend Gordon and quit her job at The Mill to move to Newcastle and work for a children’s charity.

Lorna as Mrs Tembe in Doctors (BBC)

Before appearing in Doctors, Lorna was a kids' TV star. Between 2009 and 2014 Lorna was seen on the CBBC series Grandpa In My Pocket, on which she played the much-loved role of Miss Smiley. As well as that, she was one of the presenters on the BBC children's series Tikkabilla from 2002 to 2007, hosting alongside the likes of Justin Fletcher, Sarah-Jane Honeywell, Simon Davies and a number of other names.

Lorna, as we now know, later joined Coronation Street, making her on-screen debut in June 2019. But just a couple of years later, fans of the soap noticed that Aggie was missing from their screens, specifically in March 2021, leading to speculation that the actress was shielding during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Lorna had actually stayed away from the set because her mother was shielding and she did not want to put her at extra risk. Her absence was explained on-screen by script-writers making Aggie self-isolate in between her shifts at the hospital - though she did appear via video chat to talk to her family during key plot moments.

Lorna will be known to a generation of children as 'Miss Smiley' (Adastra Creative)

The 60-year-old previously said it was her suggestion to Corrie to have her appear on the Cobbles via WhatsApp, which she was "pleased" about, but later said it was great to be back for real. "It feels great, though I was pleased to dial into the Street via Aggie's video calls," she told Inside Soap.

"I was supposed to be in these scenes but I was shielding and protecting my mum, so I said to Corrie, 'Why don't we just do them over WhatsApp?' I did my own make-up and dressed my home to look like a hotel, as Aggie was meant to be isolating following her shifts at the hospital. Some days it was really hot, so I was wearing my nurse uniform on top of a pair of shorts and flip-flops, as no one was going to see them. That's how we roll, my friend."

And off-screen, Lorna sports a very different look. According to the Daily Star, the soap star shocked fans of comical Botswanian receptionist Mrs Tembe when she revealed the character's glossy dark bob was in fact a wig and her true hairstyle underneath was an edgy blonde tightly-curled look.

Back in 2011, Lorna rocked her real 'do on the red carpet - and looked incredible while doing so - at the British Soap Awards in Manchester Pairing the look with a stunning black strappy dress, the star opted for a low-key silver necklace and earrings to debut her bold hairstyle.

Lorna's actual look is very different to Aggie (Getty Images)

Lorna previously said: "The fans went mad when they realised that Mrs Tembe off 'Doctors' is on 'Corrie' now. Apparently, it was trending - I don't even know what that means. But I must say, the wig has been a godsend. I've just been stood at the back gate of 'Corrie' and someone has gone up to one of the other actors to ask for an autograph, but didn't ask me."

In a different interview, Lorna laughed: "Those wigs have saved me many times! If I go to the supermarket without one, and wearing a mask, no-one recognises me. It shows that Aggie’s hair is realistic!"

Lorna has also previously spoken about some of the first words she received from one of Corrie's acting legends, William Roache. Talking about working with the Ken Barlow actor for the first time, given that he was working there before she was even born, Lorna told BirminghamLive: "The first scene that I recorded... I can't begin to tell you how nervous I was. But he just put his hand on me and said: 'I think this is going to be great - and it will be'."

She added: "Bill is so amazing, so calm, on his lines... he's quite an incredible man, on and off-screen. It was a real honour for me to be picked to do one of my first scenes with him. I couldn't believe it, you sort of have to pinch yourself."


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