Coronation Street star Bill Ward opens up on demanding Charlie Stubbs role

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Having played Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street and James Barton in Emmerdale, Bill Ward isn’t a stranger to soap work. He also appeared on EastEnders for several episodes. Speaking to Express.co.uk, the 54-year-old detailed some behind-the-scenes truths of working on a soap, highlighting the tough aspects of the job.

Looking back at his time across three of the biggest British soaps, Bill recalled: “[It was] a lot of fun.

“I’ve done all three of the big ones – 418 episodes of Coronation Street, 341 episodes of Emmerdale and two episodes of EastEnders.

“They’re dynamic, fast-moving shows, and a lot of fun to do.”

He continued: “I loved the dynamics of the Barton family on Emmerdale, and working with Gillian, Mike, Anthony and Joe – terrific actors one and all.

“On Coronation Street, the Charlie Stubbs domestic abuse storylines with both Shelley Unwin (played by Sally Lindsay) and Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) will always stay with me – the writing was so accurate and powerful.

“And Sally and Kate were so great to work with – such brilliant performers.

“[It was] difficult, demanding and hugely rewarding work to do.”

Charlie was a Weatherfield builder who psychologically abused Tracy and Shelley.

He was murdered by Tracy back in 2007.

In Emmerdale, Bill played farmer James Barton. In dramatic scenes in 2016, Emma Barton (Gillian Kearney) unwittingly pushed James off of a bridge into a motorway.

He landed on Ashley Thomas’s (John Middleton) car, critically injuring him and causing Ashley to crash.

James was later pronounced dead in hospital.

When asked if he was still in contact with his former soap colleagues, Bill explained: “Most of the cast on soaps are jobbing actors, going from job to job, so you tend to meet up with them quite a lot on other jobs after you or they have left the shows.

“That’s particularly true of the crew too who, especially with soaps, you tend to spend as much time with as the cast – I’m

continually bumping into directors, assistant directors, writers, camera operators, makeup artists, costumiers, and so on, who I’ve worked with on previous shows.”

The actor admitted he doesn’t keep updated with the shows, saying: “I don’t tend to watch them very often if I’m honest, but I do sometimes bump into them on Catch Up.

“We’re currently touring a play, a brand new adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so we tend to be in the theatre working when they’re going out live.”

Talking about whether he misses being on soaps, Bill answered: “I get asked this question a lot! I thoroughly enjoyed my time on both Coronation Street and Emmerdale – EastEnders too!

“[They are] all wonderful shows with a huge amount of history, and hugely committed casts and crews, tackling really important issues, and I absolutely loved my time on them.

“But one of the things I also love about the acting business is its variety: I’ve been lucky enough to be part of over 30 other TV shows and films over the years, as well as nearly 50 plays.

“In our line of work, you get used to joining and leaving companies – it’s very much part of the job.”

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