Sue Nicholls as Audrey Roberts (2012)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Sue Nicholls|
|Duration||1979, 1980–81, 1982, 1984, 1985–|
|First appearance||16 April 1979|
|Introduced by||Bill Podmore (1979)
Mervyn Watson (1984, 1985)
|Aliases||Audrey Potter (maiden name)|
|Home||5 Grasmere Drive|
Audrey Roberts (née Potter) is a fictional character from the British soap opera Coronation Street, played by Sue Nicholls. Audrey made her first appearance on 16 April 1979. After playing the role as a recurring guest for the next six years, Nicholls joined the cast regularly in 1985 and has been with the show ever since.
Creation and casting
The character of Audrey Potter was created as the mother of established character Gail Potter (Helen Worth). After appearing as an occasional character for several years, she became a permanent member of the core cast in 1985. Actress Sue Nicholls auditioned for the part of Audrey Potter and went on to secure to the role. At the time the actress had been in many theatre, cabaret and TV roles and was continuing with her career whilst appearing in the show on a recurring basis until she was offered the chance to become a permanent cast member. Audrey made her first appearance in the episode broadcast on 16 April 1979.
In 2010, Nicholls said she can't believe that she's been with Coronation Street for over 30 years. She commented "It's the best job to have, especially in this day and age when there are no jobs anyway. Everybody wants to be in it so it must have something going for it! I've been so lucky and if I think back over the years all the people have been lovely and the stories have been hot. Being with Amanda Barrie was lovely, and of course Brian Mosley who sadly died - and it's thanks to Brian or whoever - if they hadn't married Audrey off to Alf, who knows I might just have been another tart with a heart passing through."
Of her character Nicholls said in 1991 during an interview with Graeme Kay that: "Audrey's not quite as loud and brazen now, I've tried to take her down a bit, which fitted in with the fact that she married Alf, who is quite serious and sombre. Likewise she's brought him up a bit. Some people see in my character things that I don't. I'm stopped all the time by people who say, "Isn't she awful to Alf?" or "Isn't she a cow".
In October 2009, actor Nigel Havers joined the cast of Coronation Street as a potential love interest for Audrey. Audrey first meets Havers' character, Lewis Archer when she attends a ball with Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden). Audrey is immediately attracted to Lewis, but is frustrated because she is accompanying Claudia Colby (Rula Lenska). Claudia later reveals to Audrey that Lewis is a male escort that charges women for his company. Havers warned that his role of Lewis has a "dark side". Havers commented: "I couldn't resist the idea of doing Coronation Street. I loved the idea of being Audrey's new man. I'm a huge Corrie fan. I started in Corrie a month ago and I'm there until July. I gather my character has a real dark side but I don't know what it is yet."
In 2010, when Gail's husband Joe McIntyre (Reece Dinsdale) is found dead, the police suspect that Gail killed him. Nicholls said that Audrey thinks Gail is innocent. She said that Audrey doesn't believe in any way that she killed him but what she does feel is that the whole story has not come out. The death happened in some way that Gail knows about.
|“||There's a bit of the story that hasn't been told and she feels Gail knows but isn't saying. That's where the confrontation in the waiting room stems from. Never, even when I was doing the scene, did I think she was saying, 'Did you kill him?' I think she said, 'There's something wrong - there's a jigsaw piece missing'. I think what she was implying was, 'Did he hit you? Did he attack you and fall over and hit his head?' which is vaguely what happened, but of course Gail thinks she's saying, 'You killed him!' - she wasn't at all but it does come out like that. My big mouth again! [After that] I'm banished from the prison and off I go. Then other things overcome it in the story and I think it happens with Lewis and Nick. I'm sad because it wasn't what I meant at all and I can't go back. David is right off me and blames me for upsetting his mother.||”|
—Nicholls explains Audrey's thoughts on Gail's innocence.
Nicholls said she works very well with Jack P. Shepherd who plays Audrey's grandson David Platt. She commented: "I do love him - he's a splendid actor and I do love having scenes with him. I hope he does with me. We do laugh a lot despite everything. I'm always saying, 'Oh, David!' a bit like Posh Spice! I like the relationship we have. I have met people who have a better relationship with grandparents, in a funny way. I know that sounds a bit strange but sometimes people who are difficult have more of a contact with another generation. David and Gail have never really connected until now." It was announced in April 2012 that Audrey is to suffer a heart attack after weeks of stress trying to get her salon back. Nicholls and writers have worked closely with the British Heart Foundation to help portray the scenes as realistically as possible. Nicholls has also met and spoken to other people who have had heart attacks to extend her research. Nicholls commented "It was important for me to do this right and the British Heart Foundation have been a huge help to me. They kindly put me in touch with some ladies who had suffered similar attacks to Audrey, and it was really useful to be able to speak to them about their experiences."
Audrey Potter makes her first appearance at daughter Gail's (Helen Worth) engagement party to Brian Tilsley (Christopher Quinten). As an unmarried mother, Audrey is not considered a suitable match for widowed local councillor Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley). With Alf, she gains respectability and a stable life as she has not shown much interest in her daughter's life. She marries Alf on 23 December 1985, later enjoying the social status of mayoress and believing herself to be better than the other residents. Audrey has two attempts to revive her career as a hairdresser and the second time manages to talk Alf into buying the salon from Fiona Middleton (Angela Griffin). Over the years, Audrey mellows from a social climber to a more sympathetic character. The existence of another illegitimate child, Stephen Reid (Todd Boyce), in Canada, is revealed some years later. She is heartbroken by Alf's sudden death in 1999 but throws herself into work and stands for council herself, retaining her seat until 2001. Audrey is similarly devastated when her best friend, Alma Halliwell (Amanda Barrie), dies of cervical cancer in June 2001.
Audrey nearly becomes a victim of her serial killer son-in-law, Richard Hillman (Brian Capron), when he discovers that she is worth a lot of money, inherited from Alf. In late 2002 viewers saw him subtly give Audrey grounds of questioning whether she is experiencing the onset of dementia, through such actions as unlocking doors she had locked, hanging out washing that she (of course) cannot remember hanging out, turning on lights she had switched off, dropping a dress off to be dry-cleaned. Finally, he tries to kill her in a house fire, made to look like the result of her dementia, with the battery removed from the fire alarm. However, Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) rescues her.
After Maxine Peacock (Tracy Shaw), is killed in January 2003, Audrey suspects that Richard is to blame. She urges Gail to leave Richard as she and the children aren't safe but Gail refuses to listen, causing fraught relations between them. Audrey challenges Richard at Maxine's funeral, accusing him of her murder, much to the mourners' indignation. Audrey finds an ally in Ken Barlow (William Roache) who believes that chief suspect Ade Critchley (Dean Ashton) isn't to blame along with Archie and Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden), who is suspicious of Hillman's dealings with his elderly clients. In March 2003, after Richard attempts to kill Gail and the kids by driving them into the canal, Audrey makes amends with her daughter.
In October 2006, Audrey speaks to her close friend, Fred Elliott, the week he is due to marry Bev Unwin (Susie Blake) and tells him that she wishes they were getting married. This causes Fred to have doubts about marrying Bev but he decides to marry Bev regardless. Audrey tells Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold) that she will not be at the wedding so Fred borrows Bev's car to visit her. After a heart-to-heart, just as Fred is leaving to return to the church, he collapses in the hall and dies. Audrey, accompanied by the police, tells Ashley and his wife, Claire (Julia Haworth). Later that year, Audrey makes friends again with Bill Webster (Peter Armitage). However, on Christmas Day 2006, Bill's wife Maureen (Sherrie Hewson) arrives, only to learn about Bill's affair with Audrey. Bill goes back to Germany but returns to the street and moves in with Audrey, deciding to try and make a go of their relationship.
Audrey's grandson, David (Jack P. Shepherd) also moves in 2007 after Gail kicks him out. Stephen visits at Christmas to offer David a job in Italy which he accepts but Stephen withdraws the offer after Audrey finds drugs in his drawer at the salon. Jason (Ryan Thomas), Sarah (Tina O'Brien) and her daughter Bethany (Amy & Emily Walton) go instead but after learning that Sarah planted the drugs in David's drawer, he refuses to go so Sarah and Bethany go alone. Eventually, Audrey grows fed up with David, especially after she learns he pushed Gail down the stairs after a row and is dumbfounded when Gail refuses to press charges, and still has a reticent relationship with her grandson.
In 2008, Audrey is contacted by Ted Page (Michael Byrne), Gail's father. He doesn't know about their daughter so Audrey meets him and tells him that he has a daughter. He is surprised, and Audrey is equally surprised to learn Ted is gay. In August, Audrey returns from a booze cruise in France with Bill, Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle) and Roger Stiles (Andrew Dunn). It is an awful trip for her and she feels that Bill ignored her. Bill has been drinking so Audrey drives. While driving, Audrey and Janice begin arguing and Janice accuses her of being a fortune hunter and not caring about Alf or Fred. Audrey is furious, even more so when Bill chooses not to defend her, saying she has been unhappy the whole trip. The argument causes her to careen off the road and through a small group of trees crashing, she injures her arm. This makes her end her relationship with Bill, and she asks him to move out.
Audrey bumps into old friend, Claudia Colby (Rula Lenska), at a function and is introduced to her dinner partner, Lewis Archer (Nigel Havers). Claudia later tells Audrey that Lewis is an escort and she should give him a call. Audrey, having become smitten with Lewis, contacts him and begins seeing him occasionally. In April 2010, Audrey is not pleased to see Lewis out with Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox), which leads to the two women having a bitter argument over Lewis. Later that month, Audrey discovers Lewis's black book with details on all his clients. She is deeply hurt to see that she is no more than a paying customer to him, but when he assures her that he has fallen for her too, she responds to his kiss and they become a couple. Approaching her 70th birthday, Audrey toys with the idea of retirement, as she wants to settle down with Lewis. At her birthday party in the Rovers, she argues with Gail, when she discovers that Lewis was an escort. Annoyed with Gail, Rita and Claudia's interference, Audrey announces that she has found happiness with Lewis. Audrey then decides to purchase a Greek hotel with Lewis and emigrate, much to the amazement of her family and friends. However, it soon emerges that Lewis is a conman after he steals £4,000 from the bookies. On the day of their departure, Lewis's deception is revealed after he is caught kissing Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) and placing fake betting slips in the cash register on CCTV. Lewis flees the country with the money, leaving Audrey humiliated and heartbroken.
Audrey is shocked to discover that Claudia's boyfriend, Marc Selby (Andrew Hall), is a transvestite when she picks him up from a police station after he is assaulted. Marc begs her not to tell Claudia and Audrey agrees. However, Claudia mistakingly believes that Audrey and Marc are having an affair which leads to Marc telling Claudia about his transvestism.
At a doctor's appointment, Audrey learns that she and Gail have high blood pressure, caused by too much alcohol. Audrey sets Gail a challenge: to stop drinking and see who can last without it longest, and the pair resolve to get more exercise. Whilst power-walking in the countryside, they are horrified to bump into Lewis in a country pub. He runs away when he sees them and they report Lewis to the police. Lewis later goes to Audrey's salon and tells her he did not mean to hurt her. He asks Audrey to drive him to the police station to prove how sorry he is. In a bid to win her over, Lewis sends her flowers and Audrey goes to his address and finds he is living in a bedsit. Gail disapproves when Audrey's grandson, Nick Tilsley (Ben Price), gives Lewis a job as waiter but Audrey defends Lewis and he later buys her a bracelet as a thank you. Audrey visits Lewis and asks him to stay, while professing her love for him. They spend the night together and agree to keep their relationship secret but when Audrey fakes illness so she can spend the day with Lewis, David and Gail visit to check she's okay and see Lewis there. Audrey insists that it is her life and throws them out but Gail insists that Audrey does not leave Lewis, then she does not want to speak to her ever again. Deciding to go on a round the world cruise with Lewis, Audrey attempts to regain full control of the salon from David. David and his wife, Kylie Platt (Paula Lane), are reluctant to agree to this as they believe Lewis to secretly conning Audrey again and David does not want to lose his inheritance. During a heated argument, Audrey collapses and suffers a dramatic heart attack, brought on by stress. She spends several days in hospital but is released and told to take things easy, which she does. When David tries to speak to her, she ignores him and he gets the message relatively quickly.
Sue Nicholls won the award for "Best Comedy Performance" at the 2000 British Soap Awards. At the 2003 British Soap Awards, Sue Nicholls won gongs for "Best Dramatic Performance" and "Hero of the Year" for her role in the highly successful Richard Hillman storyline which ran between 2002 and 2003.
In popular culture
- Randall, Tim (2010). Fifty Years of Coronation Street. Headline Publishing Group. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7553-1846-9.
- Life in the Street. Boxtree Limited. 1991. p. 58. ISBN 1-85283-161-8.
- Webmaster (2007). "Coronation Street - Cast & Characters". ITV.com. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- Green, Kris (16 March 2010). "Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts, Corrie)". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (14 October 2009). "Nigel Havers signs up for Corrie". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (7 January 2010). "Nigel Havers: 'My Corrie role gets darker'". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (17 April 2012). "'Coronation Street': Audrey suffers a heart attack - spoiler pictures". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Webmaster (29 April 2008). "Weekly roundup - Previous Winners". ITV. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "Winners of the Soap Awards". BBC. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-03.