It’s been a mainstay on television screens for 60 years, entertaining viewers with ground-breaking storylines, dramatic moments and, above all, iconic characters. From Ken Barlow to Gail Platt, Steve McDonald to Vera Duckworth, Coronation Street’s eclectic cast of characters have helped the soap become one of Britain’s most popular entertainment exports.
The characters and cobbles of Weatherfield may seem like a long way from Market Rasen, but that is all about to change as one of Corrie’s existing characters is set to return, played by a familiar face at De Aston. Former student Harriet Bibby will be taking over the character of Summer Spellman, previously played by Matilda Freeman, after landing a major ongoing role in the hit ITV soap. Upon finding out that she had been cast, Harriet couldn’t hide her emotions.
“When my agent rang with the news, I was absolutely elated,” she says. “I couldn’t help but burst into tears I was so happy. I rang my parents straight away and just heard screaming down the phone! It was brilliant news during such a strange year.“
Harriet, who completed her A Levels at De Aston School in 2016, graduated from ALRA North drama school last year, and received her first television acting credit earlier this year when she appeared in an episode of BBC medical drama Doctors in June. Landing the role in Coronation Street has been a dream come true for Harriet, and the filming experience so far has lived up to expectations.
“Filming has been incredible,” says Harriet. “Being on the cobbles that I’ve watched for so many years on television is like walking into a story book! Obviously filming is very different at the minute due to Covid, and ITV are taking the necessary precautions so we are all comfortable and safe. Meeting some of the Corrie legends has been very surreal and I’m loving every minute of it!”
Taking on the role of an existing character may have been daunting for some, but Harriet is confident she can faithfully continue Summer Spellman’s story. After a spell away from the Street, Summer is set to return to screens later this month to be reunited with her guardians Todd Grimshaw and Billy Mayhew, played by Gareth Pierce and Daniel Brocklebank.
“Summer is a very caring and understanding young girl which I think will stay true with my take on the role,” says Harriet. “She’s just going into college so she is growing up a bit now which is exciting. And of course Todd Grimshaw has made his return to the cobbles too so it will be exciting to see how forgiving Summer can be towards him.”
Harriet’s acting journey began during her school days, sparked by De Aston School’s lively Drama department, which allows students various opportunities to perform. Reflecting on her time at the School, Harriet praises the massive impact the department has had on her career so far.
“My time at De Aston definitely shaped where I am now,” she explains. “I can’t thank the staff enough, especially Ms Greenwood and Mrs Chapman who worked with me in the Drama department. They allowed me to explore and gave me some great advice about acting and the industry, so I really don’t think I’d be where I am without them. Being given the room to be creative and explore the arts is something that is so important and shouldn’t be overlooked within early education. De Aston is where that started for me.”
Harriet is certainly remembered fondly at De Aston School, and Headteacher Simon Porter was thrilled to hear of her latest news.
“I am immensely proud of Harriet,” said Mr Porter. “It is amazing to think how one minute you are supporting a pupil with their English Literature A Level coursework and the next minute they are appearing in one of the most iconic TV shows of all time. Wonderful achievement by a wonderful student.”
As a former De Aston student who has gone on to achieve remarkable success in the industry, Harriet is uniquely placed to offer some words of advice to budding actors at the School.
“Don’t wait for the opportunity, make the opportunity,” she says. “If you want to be involved in theatre or the arts then ask your teachers if there’s time available to do something creative, they will want to facilitate that as best they can. Work hard and practise, practise, practise!”
Students at De Aston School have the opportunity to take part in a number of extra-curricular activities with the Drama department. Find out more about Drama at De Aston School.