Star people: Tina talks men; Soap's sexiest teenager, Tina O'Brien, reveals why she loves a cheeky charmer, her role in Coronation Street and TV co-star Bruno Langley. ALEX TATE reports.
She's not yet out of her teens, but Tina O'Brien has seen a lot of life - on the TV screen at least. As Coronation Street's Sarah Platt, she's become a schoolgirl mum, met an internet pervert, recovered from a joy-ride induced coma and escaped the murderous clutches of her evil stepfather.
And this week there's no let-up for her character, as she dumps screen boyfriend Todd Grimshaw because of fears that she and daughter Bethany will hold him back when he starts student life at Oxford University.
It will be the beginning of an emotional roller-coaster for Sarah and Todd - and the scenes will have an extra intensity because her on-screen love Todd is played by real-life boyfriend Bruno Langley.
The couple have been together for two years, but Tina, 19, prefers to remain rather tight-lipped about their relationship.
"It's going fine with Bruno," she says. "We get on really well, but I don't really want to talk about it because we work together. If we started talking openly about our relationship it would end up like part of the job. At the end of the day we go home and not many people know about us."
One thing Tina does want to set straight, though, is the persistent rumour that they live together. "We don't," she states simply. "That is a big thing to say about a couple."
In fact, Tina has bought a house conveniently near to the Granada TV Studios in Manchester and Bruno, 20, shares a flat nearby with Ryan Thomas, 18, who plays his screen brother, Jason.
Although Tina won't give much away about Bruno, she does admit she can't help fancying bad boys.
"I'm in love with Colin Farrell," she says with a huge sigh. "He's gorgeous because he's a bad boy. It's all about his attitude - he looks like he doesn't give a damn about anything.
"In interviews he's always sitting back and looking really cheeky and - I don't know why, because I know he's the wrong type of man - but that's exactly what draws me towards him."
So what would she say to the Phone Booth star if she met him on the red carpet? "I probably wouldn't even say anything, I couldn't say anything. I wouldn't flirt with him because I can't flirt with guys that I like," she says. "I just can't speak - I'm terrible."
But the Irish charmer isn't the first film star who's caught Tina's eye. Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio was an early influence on her acting career.
"Leonardo was my first crush when I was about 12. I used to dream that one day I would be in a film with him. I think your first major famous crush stays with you through life."
She may joke about her favourite film hunks, but Tina has been quite a hit with the male population, too. In fact she was voted in the top five Soap's All-Time Sexiest Babes in a People readers' poll, joining the likes of Martine McCutcheon and Holly Valance.
But the diminutive actress says: "It's very flattering that people think that I look nice. But then it's amazing what make-up, hair-styling and good lighting can do!"
Ever since she appeared on a calendar for the lads' magazine Loaded, Tina has had plenty of attention, but swears that fans would be disappointed with her in the flesh. "Recently I was shopping when a guy came up clutching his Loaded calendar and asked me to sign it," she reveals.
"I really blushed because on the picture I looked so nice, while that day my hair was greasy and I had no make-up on. I thought, `Oh my God - he's never going to believe anything he sees in a magazine again'," she laughs.
"I really enjoyed posing for the calendar, but I don't feel that I'm a naturally sexy person - I only feel sexy when I'm wearing those sort of clothes, not when I'm in my normal combat pants."
Her fresh-faced schoolgirl beauty has also attracted some slightly stranger attention. Some fans have even taken to sending her unusual gifts to show their appreciation - and offering to go on dates with her. "One bloke sent me a CD of whale and dolphin music because he'd read that I was having trouble sleeping. I thought that was quite sweet so I replied to say thank you and sent him a signed photo.
"But someone else sent me a letter saying `meet me at two o'clock on Saturday, I'll leave my front door open'. Needless to say, I never wrote back to him! But on the whole people send me really nice letters."
At other times she's received bunches of roses from admirers, and one besotted fan even rushed out of a hairdressing salon - still in his plastic gown and rubber highlighting cap - to get her autograph.
It's all a long way from her school days in the Hulme area of Manchester where she grew up. And her success on Corrie has put some distance between Tina and some of her school friends.
"I can count on one hand the people I still see from school. People's lives just go in different directions and unless you go to college and university together you really don't keep in contact."
She admits that she would have liked to take her A-levels before taking the Coronation Street role, which came along when she was just 16. But, according to Tina, finally sitting those exams is just one of her plans for the future.
"There are loads of things I want to do, including going travelling and maybe trying some dangerous sports, like skydiving. But that would have to wait until I left the show and I'm quite happy here at the moment. I get great story lines and I'm really enjoying myself."
l Coronation Street, ITV1, Mon 7.30 & 8.30, Wed, Fri, Sun 7.30pm.
STREET'S AHEAD: Bruno's the man for Tina, on screen and off
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|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Jun 8, 2003|
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