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Cover Story: I'm back shouting, screaming and causing catfights inside the Rovers; Loudmouth Leanne is out to settle scores on the Street.

Byline: By BILLY SLOAN

Actress Jane Danson couldn't believe it when one of her best features helped relaunch her career on Coronation Street.

The former Rear of the Year makes a welcome return to the hit ITV soap this week as loud-mouthed Leanne Battersby.

In her first scene Jane, 25, shows off her shapely bottom in a skimpy belly dancer's outfit as she serves drinks in a tacky Manchester bar.

The sight four years after she left the show will have millions of male Corrie fans glued to their TV sets. But her sexy shimmy nearly causes her on-screen father Les (Bruce Jones) to have a seizure.

Les goes out on a birthday do with Streetcars boss Steve MacDonald (Simon Gregson) and his taxi driver mate Patrick (Trevor Dwyor-Lynch).

Jane said: 'They're having a ball in this really seedy bar, eyeing up the ladies. Les spots Leanne from behind and says, 'Wow look at that'.

'She turns round and he realises to his horror it's his daughter.

'Les shouts, 'What are you doing here?' But Leanne is wondering exactly the same about him.'

She added, laughing: 'Of course, Patrick doesn't realise it's Les's daughter. He gropes Leanne's bum and she gives him a good wallop.

'It causes such a commotion they all get chucked out and Leanne is sacked. She also lived in a room above the bar and suddenly has nowhere to stay. So Les offers to take her home to No.5.'

Once she is back on the Street she carries on wearing revealing outfits. Jane was snapped during a break in filming fighting a losing battle to keep her tiny mini-skirt down against the wind.

Les had no idea Leanne was still in Weatherfield. She told him she was off travelling and had sent him letters from around the world but it turns out she had been getting her mates to post them from foreign resorts when they went on holiday.

Sparks fly when Leanne comes face to face with her ex-husband Nick Tilsley (Adam Rickitt) and his pretty bride-to-be Maria Sutherland (Samia Ghadie).

In Jane's first stint on the Street Leanne secretly married Nick when she was just 16.

But they split after he forced her to have an abortion because he felt they were too young to start a family. Nick went to live in Canada leaving her behind and that's when her real problems began.

Leanne dabbled in drugs and fell in with the wrong crowd. She owed money to evil drug dealer Jez Quigley who threatened to kill her and she was forced to flee the country with one-time boyfriend Mark Redman, son of Underworld factory boss Mike Baldwin. Jane said: 'There are still lots of scores to be settled between Leanne and Nick. She sets out to throw a spanner into the works in his relationship with Maria.'

At first Leanne makes friends with Maria. Then she finds out she's Nick's fiancAe and she was the reason her stepsister Toyah (Georgia Taylor) left the Street, after Maria slept with her boyfriend.

Jane said: 'Leanne decides to stir up as much trouble as she can.

'I've got a few explosive scenes with Adam and Samia... great shouting and screaming catfights in the Rovers and down the cobbles.'

But Jane says Leanne isn't after Nick for herself. She added: 'I don't think she loves Nick any more. There's maybe a spark for all of 20 seconds but it soon passes and she remembers what he's like.

'Leanne's just meddling with his mind. He's like putty in her hands. And she loves it.'

Jane quit Corrie in 2000 when she felt she'd taken her character as far as she could.

But the actress is delighted to be back and revealed it was fellow cast member Vicky Entwistle her screen mum Janice who helped persuade her to return.

Jane said: 'I'd kept in touch with Vicky. We see each other socially and are good friends. It's probably down to Vicky that I'm back. She was desperate to get one of her girls on to the cobbles again.

'It feels really nice to be part of the cast again, although it took a few weeks to get bedded in. Now it's like I've never been away.

'I'd kept a good relationship with the Street's producers when I left.'

First time around Jane's character was put through an emotional wringer.

She told me:'I felt Leanne had gone through so much in such a short space of time. did more than my fair share of crying playing her. The scripts were always so good it made it crucial to the scenes and I got some really meaty storylines.

'But it was all a bit doom and gloom. So went off and learned a bit more about the business of acting and television. I've come back older and wiser and I'm loving it.'

Did playing a character with so many problems take its toll? 'No, luckily it didn't,' said Jane. 'You hear some actresses who say, 'I couldn't shake my character off'. But can. As soon as leave the set it's back to the real world for me. I enjoy the job. But that's what it is a job.'

Jane has fond memories of making her Corrie debut in 1997 as part of the Battersby clan.

She said: 'We were a ready-made family from Hell... the people you wouldn't want living next door to you.

'We arrived quite rough and ready. Loud, bolshie and big trouble. As time went on we mellowed, but only very slightly.'

During her break from Coronation Street, Jane achieved success in several other hit TV dramas. She said: 'I did two series of medical drama A & E, then moved on to The Bill. I had a couple of guest roles in Doctors and Casualty, too.'

Jane's portrayal of gay policewoman PC Gemma Osbourne in The Bill hit the headlines.

'The media homed in on the fact she was gay,' recalled Jane.

'I was surprised at the controversy because it wasn't the first time a TV drama had featured such a storyline. It was all done very tastefully. It is not always necessary to show nudity or graphic sex.

'I tried to take it with a real pinch of salt and just got on with the job.'

It is no wonder Jane took it all in her stride. She has been acting professionally since the age of 11.

She made her TV debut in Alan Bleasdale's award-winning drama G.B.H. appearing alongside Robert Lindsay, Julie Walters and Lindsay Duncan.

'It was a real baptism of fire for an 11-year-old,' said Jane. 'It's only now when people talk about G.B.H. I understand just what an important first job it was.

'I'd never heard of Robert Lindsay. It was my parents who told me just what a great actor he was. It was a good learning ground... actors of that calibre taught me a lot.'

Away from Corrie, Jane lives quietly in London with her boyfriend, fellow soap star Robert Beck, who played bisexual Gavin Ferris in Emmerdale. The couple have been together for five years.

Said Jane:'Robert is very supportive of me. He knows the pressures of being away from home.

There's never any soap rivalry between us. He's got a good take on the business.'

She added:'We both love what we do and ultimately whatever we decide it's all planning for our future together.'

Jane takes her celebrity status with a pinch of salt. She said: 'You've got to play the whole stardom game. It's part of the job. But I don't buy into all that celebrity stuff.

'This business can chew you up and spit you out again if you're not too careful. It can all be taken away from you just as easily as it was given in the first place.'

She also laughs off her sexy image. 'It's very flattering but I think it's more to do with the characters I've played. It's not me,' she said.

'If you saw me first thing in the morning you'd change your opinion, believe me.'

For now, Jane is focusing all her energies on re-establishing Leanne Battersby as one of Corrie's best-loved bitches.

She said: 'This time around, Leanne is free, single and ready to play the field. She's gonna have lots of fun.

'It's given me a whole new direction to go in. It's great to be playing it for laughs.'

CAPTION(S):

Jane's shows why she was voted rear of the year; Maria (Samia Ghadie) takes a swipe at Leanne (Jane Danson) in the Rovers. The brawl ends with Nick (Adam Rickitt) pulling the battling beauties apart after they landed on table; Steve and Les find Leanne working in sleazy bar
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 6, 2004
Words:1463
Previous Article:ALISON'S DIARY: A week of quotes.
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