Cherylee Houston as Izzy Armstrong (2013)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Cherylee Houston|
|First appearance||16 April 2010|
|Introduced by||Kim Crowther|
|Gary's Army Diaries (2010)|
|Occupation||Machinist (2010, 2011—)|
Isabelle "Izzy" Armstrong is a fictional character in the British soap Coronation Street portrayed by Cherylee Houston. The character first appears on-screen on 16 April 2010; she is introduced as a new love interest for Kirk Sutherland. Soon after her arrival she gets a job at the Underworld factory. Upon her debut, she was heralded as the soap's first disabled regular character in 50 years. Izzy was the first member of the Armstrong family to be introduced, her father Owen and sister Katy arrived within two months after her first appearance.
In April 2010, Izzy turns up in The Rovers for her blind date with Kirk Sutherland (Andrew Whyment). Disaster strikes when she spots Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) - who she believes to be Kirk as Kirk used Jason's photo on his dating profile, much to Jason's surprise. As Izzy storms out of the pub, she crashes her wheelchair into Gary Windass (Mikey North) and they immediately argue. Gary takes a shine to her feistiness and when he bumps into her again later in the day, there's a clear spark.
On 7 May, Kirk arranges another date with Izzy and this time, it goes well, as the conversation flows easily. She meets Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine) and Sean Tully (Antony Cotton) but snaps at David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) and Graeme Proctor (Craig Gazey) for spying on them and accuses Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) of talking down to her. Izzy then bosses Kirk into applying for a job as machinist at Underworld, making Kirk begin to wonder what he's let himself in for. When Carla Connor (Alison King) turns Kirk down, Izzy demands an explanation; Carla refuses to change her mind, but offers Izzy a job instead as she is impressed by her spirit. Izzy, however, is worried about telling Kirk; however, he reassures her that he never really wanted that job, and is happy when Carla offers him a job driving a delivery van.
In June 2010, Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) blows up Underworld, killing himself and Robbie Sloan (James Fleet), leaving her, Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle), Julie Carp (Katy Cavanagh) and others jobless. The same day, her father Owen Armstrong (Ian Puleston-Davies) arrives at The Rovers while she is talking to Gary and she snaps at him for following her. In June, Izzy and the other factory girls start work for Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) but Carla puts a stop to Nick's new business and reclaims her staff while Owen gets the contract to rebuild Underworld, annoying Izzy and Bill Webster (Peter Armitage). In August, Bill accidentally drops cement on her from some scaffolding, causing an argument between him and Bill when Owen tells him that he is too old to be a builder as he has just endangered Izzy. However, she steps in by telling Owen that the only one who treats her as disabled is him.
Izzy is secretly delighted when she sees Gary again in September. They arrange to meet for a drink but he stands her up when he is seduced by Kylie Platt (Paula Lane). Izzy is not pleased to see them together the next day, calling Gary names for sleeping around but when a young man in the Rovers later insults Izzy, Gary steps in. This leads to a fight outside the pub and Gary is questioned by the police. Izzy feels bad about this and urges Kirk, who witnessed the fight, not to tell the police anything in order to stop Gary being prosecuted. When Kirk, who secretly fancies Izzy, lies to the police that he started the fight, Izzy softens towards Gary and tells him that she is glad that he is free. In November, Izzy is shocked to discover that Gary has been injured in Afghanistan and one of his best friends, Quinny (Steven Bell), has been killed. Gary returns home a few days later and Izzy stands by him but becomes concerned about Gary's aggressive behaviour and withdrawn manner as it is clear he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In January 2011, she asks Owen to give Gary a job at the builder's yard and he agrees but sacks him after Gary attacks him and Jason when he is accidentally locked in the van. Owen tells Izzy he won't report him if she ends her relationship with him but Izzy defiantly refuses. In July 2011, Izzy is robbed by a gang of teenagers. After learning of this, Gary becomes very overprotective and takes her wheelchair away so she can't leave the house. When Izzy's sister, Katy (Georgia May Foote) and her boyfriend Chesney Brown (Sam Aston) visit, wanting to see Izzy, Gary tells them that she is asleep but Katy refuses to take no for an answer and tells Owen that Gary is acting strangely so he kicks the front door down when Gary refuses to answer, to find Gary and Izzy in the corner, crying. Gary lets Izzy go and recognising that he needs help, gets counselling for his Post-Traumatic Stress. Izzy, scared by Gary's mental state, asks him to move out so he returns to live with Anna and on Christmas Day 2011, Izzy and Gary reunite, much to the delight of Gary's sister, Faye, who has been attempting to reunite the two.
In July 2012, Izzy confides in Fiz that she is pregnant and Fiz persuades her to tell Gary. He is excited about the pregnancy but she is worried about the health problems for her and the baby but Dr. Matt Carter (Oliver Mellor) reassures her that the pregnancy should be relatively risk-free. She tells her family and Owen is sceptical but Izzy miscarries. Not wanting to risk miscarrying again as her health problems mean that she is more at risk, Izzy tells Katy that she isn't willing to try again, leading her and Gary to look into adopting. However, Gary's criminal history and his mental health issues after Afghanistan mean he will not be allowed to adopt so when Izzy and Gary start talking about surrogates, Katy offers to help but Chesney, remembering how ill Katy was when she was pregnant, struggles with this idea and asks Katy not to do it. On seeing Chesney's frustration and having doubts of her own, tells Katy that they won't be going ahead. However, in September, Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) tells Owen that she would be interested if the price was right as she and her boyfriend, Tommy Duckworth (Chris Fountain), are in a lot of debt. Tommy, like Chesney, is very unhappy about the idea but Tina ignores him so he insists she tell Izzy and Gary that she has changed her mind or he'll leave her. Tina initially agrees but when Owen tells them that he wants the money back that he has already paid them and his flat, Tina goes against Tommy's wishes and goes ahead with the implantation process. Much to Tommy's disappointment, Tina's pregnancy is confirmed two weeks later and it becomes public knowledge after she faints in the street. Norris overhears Gary say that Tina is pregnant and everyone assumes she and Tommy are the parents but Tommy, struggling to cope with the situation, reveals the truth in the Rovers. Disgusted with Tommy's behaviour, Tina ends their relationship.
Izzy begins to feel left out of the pregnancy when Gary and Tina go to birthing classes together. When Tina finds out, she promises to involve her more. However, Gary becomes smitten with Tina and ends up making a pass at her, but Tina rejects him. Tina and Gary agree to keep it a secret as they don't want to upset Izzy, but she overhears them talking about it. As Izzy and Gary argue, Tina goes into labour early and has the baby, who they name "Jake". As the baby's life hangs in the balance, Izzy refuses to allow Gary near him. When Tina realises how much they are arguing, she tells them neither of them can see the baby until they sort it out. Izzy and Gary agree to stop arguing, but are devastated when Tina tells them that she's keeping the boy and names him Joe. After visiting lawyers, they realises it will take years to win and Izzy gives up hope of reclaiming Joe, telling Tina she can keep him. However, seeing how much she loves Joe, Tina decides to give him up and sends him back to Izzy and Gary, renaming him Jake. Shortly after Izzy forgives Gary for making a pass at Tina, and he moves back in with her.
Character creation and casting
Izzy grew up in a council house with her family. Her father Owen was faithful but her mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict who cheated on her husband. Izzy's mother left Owen for a man called Billy Jefferson. The character of Izzy was announced in early 2010 as a love interest for Kirk. It was announced that Izzy would be played by actress Cherylee Houston. Shortly afterwards the character's father was also confirmed to appear in Coronation Street in mid June 2010 along with her younger sister. Izzy is a wheelchair user. Commenting on her casting Cherylee Houston said "I’m really excited and well chuffed to be joining the show. I grew up with Coronation Street and I can’t wait to get start. I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into the character."
Cherylee began filming in February 2010 and signed a contract for an initial seven episodes, which was soon extended for six months. Izzy is described as having a feisty and fiery personality. She is usually attracted to bad boys and has been known in the past to be a heartbreaker due to her troubled background and messy romantic history.
During the character's first episode she clashes with regulars such as Jason Grimshaw, Anna Windass and Gary Windass, establishing the character's strong personality. A few weeks later she clashes with other strong characters such as Liz McDonald to whom Liz takes a disliking. Izzy's surname was initially intended to be Butterfield, although by the transmission of her first episode it had been changed to Armstrong.
On her introduction to the programme, the character of Izzy was promoted as Coronation Street's first disabled regular, although Maud Grimes, who first appeared in 1993, also used a wheelchair. In one of Izzy's early scenes, viewers see Eddie Windass (Steve Huison) insult the feisty newcomer by telling Kirk: "You don't want to go out with a bird in a wheelchair." Asked how disabled viewers will have felt about the remark, Houston replied: "They were probably going, 'Thank God that's showing reality". Shortly after her first scenes producers were pleased with her impact and decided to introduce a family for her. Houston said in July 2012 that she is starting to adopt Izzy's accent, adding that she is a bit more diplomatic than Izzy is and does not fly off the handle as fast. Houston continued: "She can be quite dogmatic when she gets something between her teeth - she's always ready to bark!"
Actress Cherylee Houston was Nominated for Best Newcomer at the Inside Soap Awards 2010 for her portrayal of Izzy Armstrong but lost out to Emmett J. Scanlan, who plays Brendan Brady in Hollyoaks
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