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Party girl Tina's all groan up; Corrie's gymslip mum turns 20 with a giant hangover.

Byline: STEVE HENDRY

SEXY young Coronation Street star Tina O'Brien let out a long, painful moan when we met.

It wasn't so much she was pleased to see me as that she was feeling very delicate after partying big style on her 20th birthday the previous night.

She admits it was a wild affair that went on into the small hours and involved karoake and Tina dancing on a sofa.

It's hard to believe this sophisticated party animal who is happy to pose for glamorous photos clad only in a fake fur stole is the soap's gymslip mum Sarah Platt

She looks anything but a bright eyed and bushy-tailed schoolgirl after her joint party, held with Shobna Gulati, who plays Sunita, and a friend who works behind the scenes at Weatherfield.

"Never again," she says through her hangover. "I kept telling myself I wasn't going to have a late night.

"Even when I was sitting there drinking I was thinking `I'm not going to get drunk just because it's my birthday. I'm working tomorrow.' But people kept buying me drinks. There was karaoke and I remember dancing on a sofa..."

Despite the party Tina was up early to film crucial scenes at the Granada studios in Manchester - and the fact she's a little red around the eyes is well- suited to her latest heartbreaking storyline.

After she moves in with boyfriend Todd Grimshaw against mum Gail's wishes, Sarah's three- year-old daughter Bethany - who is played by twins Amy and Emily Walsh - has an accident.

Todd finds the toddler unconscious after she is electrocuted on some dodgy wiring in their flat. A furious Gail reports her daughter to social services - who then threaten to take Beth away.

Despite the emotional nature of the scenes, Tina says her hangover hasn't affected her work. She says: "I don't feel at my best today but I always enjoy work.

"The first scene of the day was a heavy one but luckily I'd learnt all of the scenes inside out, back to front because I knew I would be tired even if I hadn't had a drink."

"I'd rather be busy and the scenes we're filming just now have a lot of mixed emotions. Tears are flowing and tempers flaring.

"It's a battle of wills between Sarah and Gail. Sometimes it would be better for Sarah to be home because of money worries but if she goes back it's like her mum has won. And she doesn't want her mum to win.

"Gail went about it the wrong way, shouting at her to come back rather than giving her the choice."

She adds: "Sarah's a bit mixed up. She wants to do her own thing but on the one hand she's got people saying she's got to be responsible because she has a child to look after and at the same time she's being told she's just a kid. Where does she fit in? She still is only 16."

Tina was the same age when she started at Corrie and like her screen alter ego she's had a lot of growing up to do in the public eye.

She found it odd when her romance with Bruno Langley - who plays her on- screen boyfriend Todd - got out.

Tina says: "We did used to go out together but not now. It's strange that it's in the papers and people know your business but I'm fine with it."

Of their break-up she says: "It has not caused any problems in the scenes we're filming just now. We get on fine.

"I'm happy with the way things are and I'm happy for things to remain that way. I'm not not looking for a boyfriend but if something happens then fine.

"Sometimes guys come up to you and then after half and hour it's, `You're off the telly'. Sometimes you're a bit wary and other times you're not wary enough. I think I can come across as not really opening up to people. It's just that I don't know what they are after."

She still finds the recognition she gets from appearing on the biggest soap on TV hard to handle.

"I don't think fame is something you get used to" she says. "When people come up to you it's nice and flattering but at the same time you feel self- conscious.

"It makes me paranoid. Even now when people look at me I think what are they looking at me for?

"Everyone on Coronation Street has different ways of dealing with it. It still comes as a shock but I'm getting used to it more now because I've been here four years.

"When you first start it can be quite scary and horrible. But the majority of people are really nice. They give you advice and ask questions but it's all quite light-hearted."

She even found some of her friends from school were affected by her fame.

"They weren't all OK about it," she says with a grimace. "At the time I really couldn't understand it. They felt I'd changed but I hadn't - I only realise now that their perception of me had changed.

"They were looking at me differently. I think the fact that people looked at me all the time was getting to them. But I didn't want it either."

Born and raised in Manchester, Tina recently moved into a new flat in the city centre. She left home when she was 18 but enjoys a close relationship with her mum and dad.

She also gets on well - off screen - with Helen Worth who plays her screen mum. Tina says: "Helen is lovely. Luckily, it's not the same off screen as it is on. From the first day I started she welcomed me. She's always looked out for me. She's very confident and cool."

Tina has many other close friends from the cast and crew, including Nikki Sanderson (Candice Stowe) and Lucy Jo Hudson (Katy Harris).

"What's really lovely about working in Granada is there are so many people of different ages and backgrounds and you just get on with everyone," she says.

Friendly Tina is nothing like the tempestuous Sarah. "I was asked recently if it was difficult to leave the character behind and I've never really thought about it before," she says.

"I went home that night and started thinking what's me and what's my character? I was going into trauma thinking, `Oh my God I'm going to go mad. I'm going round the bend, thinking I'm someone else.'

"But no, not really. I love my job but it is a job. I go home and leave it behind at the end of the day. I don't go home and think what would Sarah think of this? It doesn't cross over.

"I like Sarah. She's nice but she is a bit stupid at times. She would never do anything to hurt anyone, she's got a good heart but I don't think she thinks things through properly sometimes.

"She stumbles into stuff. And she's a bit dependent on Todd and other people." Tina started acting at a Saturday drama class and gave up a place at drama school after three days when she landed the part in Corrie.

She has no regrets and plans to stick around in Weatherfield for a while.

"I know it doesn't always work out and if it doesn't I'll just have to find something else and get on with it," she says. "But at the same time I don't know what else. There are things I would like to do in general, like travel, but I don't know when.

"I love this job. I know it sounds like a cliche but sometimes I have to pinch myself.

"I love the atmosphere. You can feel the adrenalin going and when you know you've got to do it in five seconds you get into it. I wouldn't change it for the world."

Well, maybe just one thing. As she stifles a yawn, she looks as if she would give anything to ditch those early starts.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 17, 2003
Words:1343
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