WHEN Katie McGlynn left Coronation Street she finally had the freedom to find new work – and a new man. Then Covid scuppered all her plans.
For the actress, whose life was consumed by playing tragic Sinead Tinker on the ITV soap, jobs and dating opportunities suddenly dried up in lockdown.
But Katie, 27, refuses to join the army of singletons relying on dating apps until we get our freedom back.
She said: “Their usage has gone up massively in the past year because there’s no other way to meet people, which I can sympathise with during lockdown. But I can’t tell if I like somebody over a screen, and a lot of people who would contact me would do so because I was on Corrie.
“Most of them would be expecting Sinead Tinker and not me, Katie McGlynn. They’ll be surprised to learn we’re not the same people. I mean, I’m alive for a start.
“A dating app is supposed to make it easier to meet someone. But if I used them it would get complicated. I have had the apps before but not long enough to do it properly. I’m interested because my friends have them and I look at what they’re up to. But it doesn’t feel natural to me.”
Instead she is firmly focused on the next chapter of her acting career, having joined the cast of BBC1 drama The Syndicate opposite Kym Marsh and Neil Morrissey.
Katie played Corrie’s Sinead for seven years, until the young mum died from cancer in October 2019.
That decisive break from the show came just five months before the first lockdown, which paralysed the entertainment industry.
‘WEIRD AND WONDERFUL THINGS IN MY INBOX’
The sudden shortage of work left Katie with plenty of time on her hands to think.
She said: “Because I’ve not been massively busy, you do question the other parts of your life. And then you’re like, ‘Oh well, I’ve not found Mr Right yet. But we’re in a pandemic, so I can’t’.
“It would be good if that part of my life was complete but I know it will happen so I’m not desperate. I’d much rather be on my own and feel a bit lonely than be with someone who isn’t right.
“A lot of people have got into relationships, or stayed in relationships, because of lockdown. And some are brilliant but there are going be a lot of break-ups when we get our freedom back.”
The attention Sinead has received from viewers has not always been of the kind she would want.
She said: “At one point I had a Twitter account dedicated to my belly button. It’s a running joke that feet are a common fetish but I don’t see belly buttons as sexual at all.
“I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not the nicest-looking belly button. I had it pierced two or three times when I was younger so it’s got a scar on it.
“I just thought it was a bit weird. Stuff like that does make me laugh but if I thought about it too much it would send me doolally. That’s also why I don’t tend to look at comments about me online, either.
“I’ve been lucky, generally, as Corrie fans are pretty tame. There was the odd remark that’s not very nice but I choose not to read them because it could take you to a very dark place.”
Leaving the ITV soap has not lowered her profile, though.
Katie said: “I did an Instagram question-and-answer session last week and had a lot of weird and wonderful things land in my inbox.
“Normally it’s a random mix of people, whereas I’ve had a bit of a surge of messages from men. Nothing too crazy, just asking, ‘Do you want to go on a date?’ But their accounts are private and you can’t see what they look like or what they do.
“I just need to know if they’re real, as I’m not against the idea. But you would always be second-guessing, ‘Do they actually like me, or do they only like me because I was in Corrie?’”
The intensity of her Corrie role meant Katie would have struggled to find time for a relationship anyway. She said: “When I did the cervical cancer storyline it really did take over my life. I would work all week and spend my weekend recovering.
“If I’d have met someone then it wouldn’t have been fair to pursue it because I wouldn’t have been in the right place physically or mentally to put time into a relationship.
“If I met someone I’d have thought, ‘I haven’t got time to go on a date with you. I have to focus on my scripts, not you.’ You have to be open to a relationship to have one.”
Katie gets annoyed by the sexist double-standard by which single women are sometimes seen as unusual, while single men are merely bachelors free to play the field.
She said: “I’m not a massive feminist but there are obvious differences. Women who choose to be single and work, putting their careers first, are deemed a bit odd.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s a bit intimidating for men. I think they are a bit put off by a strong, independent woman. Not all men, but it can be a bit offputting for some. Because some men want to be the career-driven one, the funny one, the one bringing home the bacon, while women have to sit at home having babies.
“It’s a shame. But there are more women around like me, so it’s not as much of a taboo as it used to be.”
In the two years since she was last in a relationship Katie has been linked with plenty of good-looking guys, including Strictly Come Dancing hunk Giovanni Pernice, 30.
The Italian dancer, after splitting from Katie’s Corrie co-star Georgia May Foote in 2016, was reported to have dated Katie. She denies it happened.
Katie said: “They were trying to make it look like I was trying to have her boyfriend and I really wasn’t, even though they weren’t together any more, just because he’d dated another Corrie actress at some point.
“I was quite upset about it because I’d not done anything. It was blown up out of all proportion.
“We weren’t dating. I don’t think he’s my type. I’m sure he’s lovely but that’s why I was surprised with the stories. People were clutching at straws. Nothing happened.
“I’ve met him, it was at an awards party and people just decided we were dating because we were seen talking.”
Katie counts herself fortunate she has been able to star in season four of The Syndicate, which began on BBC1 on Tuesday, after Covid threw a spanner in the works.
They are stand-alone series and this time it is about a group of hard-up dog-kennel workers who win the Lottery.
This season of the drama, created by Kay Mellor, was set in Leeds and Las Vegas.
But filming was halted by the crisis and the setting shifted from America’s Sin City to Monaco.
Katie didn’t care, though, having landed the juicy character of Georgina Clarke, ex-girlfriend of Lottery winner Jake Thackery (Kieran Urquhart).
She said of Georgina: “She’s feisty, rough around the edges and has been brought up in a less-than-privileged area. She gets what she wants, when she wants it. She and Jake end up having a child together and I don’t think Georgina is happy with the set-up of her and him. It all gets a bit messy.
“She’s also got the reputation for not being the nicest girl. I certainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her.”
Despite an uncertain year professionally, Katie is not pining for Coronation Street.
She said: “I can’t lie, of course I miss it. I miss working with and seeing all my friends. But I don’t think I would have changed what happened. Even though this year hasn’t gone to plan, I don’t regret my decision. It felt right to leave when I did.”
- Episode two of The Syndicate is on BBC One on Tuesday at 9pm.
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