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the interview: SCHEMING LEANNE'S BEEN A COMPLETE COW TO MIKE; CORRIE JANE TELLS HOW THE STREET'S GOLD-DIGGER GETS HER JUST DESERTS.

Byline: By LAURA DAVIDSON

It takes a lot to leave loud-mouthed Leanne Battersby speechless - but when she's kept in the dark this week about Coronation Street's biggest departure in a decade, the mouthy Manc is gobsmacked.

She's been grudgingly caring for poor Mike Baldwin through his Alzheimer's hell - hoping to get her hands on his cash - and reckoned she'd be first to know when the he finally bit the bullet.

After weeks of build-up to Corrie veteran Johnny Briggs' big exit, iron Mike finally headed for the big knicker factory in the sky on Friday. But gold-digger Leanne finds out LAST.

Jane Danson, 27, who plays the Battersby battler, said: "Leanne was at home waiting for Mike but he never returned and she only finds out much later on that he's died.

"By the time news reaches her, everyone in Weatherfield is talking about it.

"She genuinely feels snubbed because no one thought to tell her. Although, to be honest, she's got absolutely no right to feel that with the way she's been carrying on."

Jane reckons it's been difficult to find any redeeming features in Leanne lately. First, she broke poor Jamie's (Rupert Hill) heart by sleeping with his dad - Mike Baldwin's wheeler-dealer son Danny (Bradley Walsh).

With pound signs flickering in her eyes, she kept pursuing the middle-aged wide-boy until he finally dumped wife Frankie (Debra Stephenson) so he and Leanne could be an item.

As if that hadn't caused enough of a rift in the Baldwin family, when poor Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, scheming Leanne sank her hooks into Danny even further - spurred on by the thought of his whopping inheritance.

Jane added: "Leanne's been a complete cow. Money has taken over her whole life and she's obsessed with making sure that Mike signs everything over to Danny.

"She's tasted that sort of lifestyle and she's hooked. She's been in the position where she's been down in the dumps before - she's a Battersby, after all, so she doesn't come from money - and for her, this is like winning the lottery. It's now a case of how far will she go."

If there was a line to cross, Leanne skipped over it when she took advantage of confused Mike and accepted his offer of a shopping trip, racking up hundreds of pounds on his credit card.

But there's a spanner in the works of her get-rich-quick plan - Mike's second will leaves the majority of his cash to teenage son Adam.

Corrie legend Mike will be given a send-off to remember this week, with the Cockney's coffin carried through Weatherfield in a traditional black horse-drawn carriage.

Leanne will no doubt shed crocodile tears - but the floodgates open for real soon enough with more troubles ahead.

In real life, Jane has revealed she's pregnant, and Corrie bosses have promised an explosive exit when the actress goes off on maternity leave.

She said: "I'm not sure if the pregnancy will be written into the show but let's just say that although Leanne will be away for a while, she'll definitely be back. I've got a feeling there will be unfinished business to deal with."

Jane's married to a man she used to swoon over as a teenager - Robert Beck, 35, who played hunky Peter Harrison in Brookside when Jane was at school.

The pair met at an awards bash when he was starring as Gavin Ferris in Emmerdale and she was starting out in Corrie. They've been an item since that night almost seven years ago and tied the knot in December last year. Weeks later the couple were delighted to discover they were expecting their first child.

"I keep thinking I should pinch myself," laughed Jane. "I'm touching wood as I'm saying this but at the moment I'm in a job I love with a fantastic storyline, I'm married to the best man in the world and I'm having his baby. Does it get any better than that?

"Our wedding last year was fantastic. It was just before Christmas and we had a lovely day. They couldn't resist, of course, making reference to my teenage crush in the speeches but it was good fun." Hooking up with Robert wasn't Jane's only teenage dream. She's wanted to act since she was at primary school and attended classes at the Oldham Theatre workshop as a child.

When she was 11, she landed the role of deranged youngster Eileen Critchley in Alan Bleasdale's acclaimed drama GBH, opposite Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin and Julie Walters.

That led to parts in kids' show Children's Ward and upstairs-downstairs-style drama The Grand before she was cast as teenage tearaway Leanne. As well as her fiery one-liners, the character's been known for her risquA dress sense - but with Jane's due date on August 1, her growing bump mean Leanne's short skirts and revealing tops will need to be toned down.

"We'll give it a few more weeks and then the crew will only be able to film above my shoulders because I'll be so big," said Jane.

"I've got an excuse to eat lots of cakes, which is great. I haven't had any bizarre cravings but I don't know if that's a good thing. I just want to eat everything. I'm generally craving food - any kind of food - all the time."

Jane is planning to take time off after the birth. She added: "I can't wait to be a mum. I've often said to Robert that I wish I could go in a time machine and tell the teenage me what would happen in the future. He just laughs and says that would ruin it all and he's probably right.

"The truth is, things have worked out even better than I could have dreamed back then.

"It's scary, because it really doesn't seem that long ago that I had pictures of him on my pencil case at school.

"Now that I'm going to be a mum, people keep telling me that time will pass even quicker. I want to just slow down for a while and enjoy it.

"As for Leanne, who knows what's coming for her? You definitely haven't seen the back of her, though."

'I LOVE MY JOB, I'M MARRIED TO THE BEST MAN IN THE WORLD AND I'M HAVING HIS BABY.. CAN IT GET BETTER THAN THAT?'

CAPTION(S):

Mike checks his wallet to see how much Leanne spent on the shopping spree as son Danny looks on' Alzheimer's victim Mike in hospital as he battles pneumonia' Leanne shows Danny the will in which Mike has left everything to Adam' Leanne and Danny pay their last respects to Mike along with Ken Barlow and and Deirdre' Jane had a crush on her soap star husband, Robert Beck, when she was a teenager
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 9, 2006
Words:1128
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