Geoffrey Nugent - or should we say Spider - returned to the cobbles earlier this year but things still aren't quite as they seem as the character is hiding a secret in Coronation Street. It was announced back in April that Martin Hancock would be reprising the role 25 years after making his debut - and 19 years after his last appearance in the ITV soap.
The actor, who made his on-screen return in June, played as Emily Bishop's eco-warrior nephew between 1997 and 2003 and is probably best remembered for being the on/off boyfriend of Toyah Battersby. Spider left the famous street in 2003, when he headed to London to start afresh with Toyah. However, they later separated with Spider moving to Peru, while after a failed marriage, Toyah returned to be with her family in 2016.
But despite being away from Weatherfield for almost two decades, Spider appears to have slipped back into life on the street and even rekindled his relationship with Toyah following the death of her husband, Imran Habeeb. And while still taking part in protests, Spider is hiding the fact that he is working undercover for the police.
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He is currently trying to infiltrate his mate Griff's gang who have been carrying out race-provoked attacks in Weatherfield. They used Spider to cause damage to local restaurant Speed Daal, brutally attacked newcomer Daryan, and even roped Max Turner into working on their fake propaganda videos.
But with his relationship with Toyah now hanging in the balance after she recognised him in the viral video of Daryan's sickening attack, Corrie fans are wondering when Spider will be able to expose Griff and his pals or if he'll be caught out before justice can prevail.
Ahead of Martin reprising his role as Spider, the actor revealed how his mother-in-law may have had a subtle role in his comeback. Explaining how his return happened, Martin told the Manchester Evening News and other press: "Georgia [Taylor - who plays Toyah] put a photo up of us when we were very young. It was one of those Spider and Toyah photos where we are arm in arm with each other and it went into a few of the papers. Then my mother-in-law, who is the oracle of all things Corrie, rang up and said: 'E-ar duck, you're in the papers!'
"I looked at it and got all sentimental and then my wife said, look, you've always said you'd go back and she said you're not getting any younger so I had a word with my agent and my agent had a word with Corrie. There was a bit of to and fro and here I am!"
Martin was referring to a post made by Georgia eight months before his return was revealed. The Wigan-born actress transported viewers back to 1999 when Toyah was dating the Spider by sharing a snap of the iconic young TV couple sharing an embrace as they gazed at the camera. "Thanks to @jondew1 for sharing this belter of a #tbt from 1999! I mean, eyebrows are for losers, right?" she wrote, referring to her skinny eyebrows in the picture that ruled the nineties. But it soon led to fans demanding Spider's return.
While Martin, who was born in Fulham, worked with a number of the Corrie cast during his first stint in the soap, he also shares a link with another Corrie star. When asked if there were any new cast members from the last time he walked the famous street he'd like to work with in a chat before his return, Martin actually revealed his connection to Joe Duttine, who plays Tim Metcalfe in the Salford-based soap. "I haven't stopped nattering to people to be honest with you," he admitted.
He then went on: "Well, he’s not that new, but yes, Joe [Duttine] because I went to drama school with him. In our 30-year careers, we've never worked together. I think his character is brilliant, I love it. It would be great to work with him."
Martin's exit from Corrie the first time round appeared to be triggered by a sudden loss. Speaking in 200 at the time, Martin said the decision to quit was tough but felt the character had started to become "too normal" and essentially felt that his character of Spider had run its course.
But also while working on Corrie in the late nineties, Martin's mum, Vi, who enjoyed a close relationship with as an only child, passed away. In an interview a couple of years after her death, Martin said: "I was heartbroken — it was horrible. My mum was my soundboard for everything. We were best mates and had no unfinished business. She was so proud of me when I got Corrie — she couldn't believe it."
Now, Martin keeps his private life just that and while it is reported he is married, nothing is known about his mystery partner. What we do know is that during his time away from the cobbles, Martin appeared in a few Hollywood films.
He landed a starring role Steve Coogan’s 24 Hour Party People after his Corrie exit, and he also bagged a lead part Ridley Scott’s Kingdom Of Heaven. Martin then went on to shred his soap image when he starred alongside Daniel Craig in Defiance in 2008. But he didn't completely lose his soap credentials as he also appeared in Holby City, Casualty as Reg Lund, and Doctors as well as TV shows such as Cradle to Grave.
One of his last TV roles be rejoining Corrie saw Martin star in In the Long Run - with Idris Elba, Bill Bailey and Jimmy Akingbola which aired in 20202. As for his last film roles, they were in The Last Faust and The Car: Road to Revenge, both in 2019.
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