Her Corrie character Sally Metcalfe has recently been the victim of bullying and abuse online (known as trolling). This storyline is coming to an end as Sally finds out that the culprit is, in fact, the step-daughter of her sister Gina, but Sally Dynevor the actress feels the subject matter is of the utmost importance, given the prevalence of social media today.
“There are some aspects of social media that are fantastic but some not-so-good things, too,” she says. “Personally, I’ve had a few unpleasant comments on Twitter but I don’t take any notice. If people want to waste their time being unpleasant, then fine – let them. But I think young people are particularly vulnerable to the negative aspects of social media and this really worries me.
"Today’s youngsters feel they can’t live without it, unlike people like me who grew up without the internet and all that comes with it. I could easily live without social media but that’s not the case for kids these days. They are on it all the time, taking pictures of themselves and putting themselves in potentially vulnerable situations.
“Trolling is a despicable thing – young people are especially vulnerable anyway, but to be bullied and called names online, is devastating. I would be so upset if any of my three children were being trolled – or, indeed, if it was them doing the trolling.”
Sally has three children – Phoebe, 22, Samuel, 20, and Hatty, 13. Does she and her scriptwriter husband Tim limit the amount of time Hatty, as a young teenager, spends on social media?
“Yes but there are so many aspects you have to consider,” she replies. “For instance, Hatty was at a friend’s house the other day. They were having fun and decided to put a picture of themselves on the online social messaging service Instagram.
"The mother of Hatty’s friend, whose house they were at, then received a phone call from the mum of a girl who hadn’t been there. Apparently her daughter was really upset because she felt excluded and left out. It certainly wasn’t a deliberate act on Hatty and her friends’ part and they had no idea that they’d hurt anyone by innocently putting the picture up but unwittingly they did. I had to tell her to really think about it next time. The thing is, everyone looks like they’re having the best time on social media and if you’re not, it makes you feel even worse. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, though. We have to deal with it.”
The trolling storyline in Corrie was linked to Gina arriving in Weatherfield after many years. When we spoke a while ago to Sally she told us she’d love it if long-lost sister Gina pitched up in the Street and that’s just what’s happened, so is it thanks to Yours for publicising the fact? “No,” she laughs.
“I don’t think so. It’s just co-incidence that producer Kate Oates decided to bring in Gina – but I couldn’t be more delighted about it and I suppose that you could say it’s a bit of a dream come true for me. Now I’m hoping that some family members of Sally’s husband Tim turn up at some point. Imagine the comedy potential as Sally meets her in-laws – especially if they’re a bit rough and ready – or even Tim’s previous wife!
“There is some more funny stuff coming up for me as Gina moves in with the Metcalfe’s. The sisters have a love/hate relationship while Tim gets really fed up with Gina eating all the bacon in the fridge and using up the data on his iPad. There’ll be some serious stuff, too, though as Gina is bipolar so it will give the opportunity to explore the illness and show its effects on the family.”
Sally’s been on the Street for 31 years now. Does it almost feel as if the show is in her DNA? “It really does,” she agrees. “Coronation Street is part of me. It’s in my soul and I can never imagine leaving. That would be so weird. I’ll still be here when I’m 80 if they’ll have me. I want to be like Barbara Knox who plays Rita or Bill Roache who plays Ken! I’m loving it more than ever.”
Sally (53) says her Corrie family really do feel like family. “There are my girls Helen Flanagan and Brooke Vincent, who play Rosie and Sophie, and I treat them like real daughters. Helen’s adorable and I just want to hug her all the time we’re on set together while Brooke is really together and a lovely person.
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"I feel so blessed to be working so closely with them and also Connie Hyde who plays Gina, Debbie Rush who plays Anna, Michael Le Vell who plays Kevin and Joe Duttine who plays Tim. We were talking about measuring success the other day and, to me, success is about being happy about going to work every day. I genuinely am.”
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- Interview by Alison James