Her on-screen wedding was a modest affair with just three guests in a local hotel, but Coronation Street ’s Sally Carman is planning something much more romantic when she ties the knot herself.
The actress, best-known as grieving mum Abi Webster, is marrying cobbles co-star Joe Duttine and the couple plan a beautiful Christmas ceremony.
“I’m obsessed with Christmas, so when Joe said: ‘What’s your favourite time, when would you most like to do it?’ it had to be Christmas,” Sally smiles.
“We’re going to have the wedding late afternoon so it will be dark and it will be lit by rows of Christmas trees and twinkly lights; I can’t wait.
“We should have been getting married this December but we put it to next year because we didn’t know what the score was going to be Covid-wise. We thought it was better safe than sorry, because I would have hated to have arranged it and then not be able to do it properly.”
Sally is such a big fan of Christmas that if she ever feels fed-up – no matter what time of year – she cheers herself up by watching back-to-back Christmas films from inside her own den.
“I put a pop-up tent in the living room and fill it with pillows and quilts – it’s like a little Christmassy cave,” she laughs.
“I’ll do it in the middle of summer. It cheers me up. I wear a onesie and cocoon myself. The tent has two pockets, so I put drinks in one and crisps in the other.
“I angle the door of the tent towards the telly and then put Christmas films on. I love all the classics like Home Alone and White Christmas.
“I’m completely mad about it; the decorations go up at the beginning of November and we’re having three trees. Joe isn’t obsessed like me and he grumbles, but he knows when he’s beaten.”
Sally, 40, and Joe, 51, will tie the knot in St Philip’s Church in Salford, where Sally herself was baptised two years ago.
“I became a Christian later on in life, around seven years ago,” she explains.
“A friend shared something with me and suddenly religion made sense on another level. One of the great things about St Philip’s Church is that they do so much for the local community.
“They make Bags of Hope, which are bags full of essentials, such as toothpaste or deodorant and they walk round the streets giving them to sex workers or people who are struggling.”
Sally joined Coronation Street in 2017. She has been lauded for her portrayal of chaotic former drug addict Abi, who this year has been grief-stricken following the murder of her son Seb.
On a happier note the cobbles is where she met fiance Joe, pictured, who plays cab boss Tim Metcalfe.
The couple, who live in a small village outside Stockport, got engaged during the first lockdown and Sally is a devoted stepmum to Joe’s three children, aged 25, 14 and 12.
“They’re gorgeous kids, it’s so easy and I feel really lucky to have that extension of a family,” Sally says. “Not to be a mother figure, because they’ve got a mum and they don’t need another, but just to have a relationship and some part in their journey into adulthood is amazing.”
On screen too Abi has just become a stepmum to Jack, the 11-year-old son of her new husband, garage boss Kevin Webster. And viewers have seen her cement her family unit by asking Jack if she could officially adopt him.
“She’s realised she’s got a proper chance of having a family,” Sally says. “She thinks she fell short in being a mother to her own children, especially her twins who were adopted, and she’s got an opportunity to love a child who’s lost his mum.”
Her Coronation Street role really is a dream come true for Sally, who grew up in Mexborough, South Yorks, with her parents, miner Steve and care home worker Ann.
“I was brought up on Corrie,” she says. “I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the telly, watching all the tram stuff with Rita and thinking: ‘I want to do that.’”
Not that things got off to a great start, with Sally twice being thrown off her performing arts college course for poor attendance.
“They gave me a second chance the next year but I still didn’t want to do it,” she laughs. “I was in a band and I was too busy going out, having a good time and not turning up to classes.”
She credits her Dad with helping change her mindset. She explains: “He said: ‘You’re not going to do this drama school thing are you?’ I said: ‘No, I am, I’ll show you.’”
Sally subsequently landed a place at LAMDA, one of the country’s top drama schools. Her TV debut came in City Central in 1998 and she’s since appeared in Heartbeat and Silent Witness.
Prior to the cobbles her biggest role was former heroin addict and prostitute Kelly Maguire in Shameless, which she played from 2009-2013.
“I’ve cornered the market in those sorts of characters,” she laughs. “I’m not sure why, because I turn up to auditions with my hair done, wearing nice clothes and my make-up done and they still go: ‘crack addict, prostitute, you’re the one.’”
When she joined Coronation Street Sally had no idea that Abi would turn into such a big character.
“Abi is emotionally immature, which is brilliant, because I get opportunities to do crazy things. I’ll stay at Coronation Street as long as I’m enjoying it and as long as they’ll have me, so for ever hopefully.”
As happy as she is on the cobbles, Sally does admit to one secret outstanding ambition. “I’d love to do a Christmas film,” she reveals.
Sally may love a happy ending, but with Abi’s luck it’s safe to say her festive season on screen isn’t likely to be a Miracle on Coronation Street.
*To donate to Bags of Hope follow St Philip’s Chapel Street on Twitter and Instagram: @spchapelstreet and then click on the Bags of Hope link.