At home with Corrie actor Simon Gregson
PUBLISHED: 17:53 17 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 February 2013
Coronation Street's Steve McDonald may be grappling with family problems. But Simon Gregson, the actor who plays him, loves his happy domestic life at home near Wilmslow<br/>WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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Coronation Streets Steve McDonald may be grappling with family problems. But Simon Gregson, the actor who plays him, loves his happy domestic life at home near Wilmslow
You couldnt ask for a warmer welcome from the Gregson family. Three-year-old Alfie comes bounding toward the door, laughing and joking with two-year-old brother Harry. With their faces pressed up against the glass they flash grins wider than the River Dee and peer through the letterbox.
When dad Simon, the actor who plays Coronation Streets Steve McDonald, opens the door they burst into fits of giggles and chase each other around the entrance hall before dashing to mum, Emma.
This idyllic picture is a far cry from Simons screen persona regular viewers will know about his constant troubles with onscreen partner Becky. But it is this happy home life that the 36-year-old thrives on.
In fact some might expect the couple to be living a lavish celebrity lifestyle, filled with endless glitzy balls and bashes, fine dining and fast cars. There are a few of the latter in the driveway, including Simons prized Jaguar, but the majority are old cars that he likes to tinker with.
Simon and Emma, who married last November at St Bartholomews Church in Wilmslow, are not bothered about a celebrity lifestyle. They are much happier playing in the back garden with Alfie and Harry, throwing parties at home and spending time with friends at a local social club, although Simon admitted, this has got him into a few sticky situations.
I get involved with the local tractor drives, well, Emma encouraged me to get involved in it, said Simon, as he catches Alfie full flight who has just taken a running leap towards him. She duped me and said this particular one was only two and a half miles long when it was more like 30 miles. We were in it for eight hours. I think she used all of this free time to go shopping.
Its a great village to be in and weve already had many happy times here. We often have people back here for parties after weve been to the club. The whole road is one big pub really because we all go to each others houses.
Simon and Emma, who met through mutual friend Beverley Callard who played Liz McDonald in the soap, moved to Morley Green in 2007. They had been living in an old cottage in nearby Wilmslow that was once in the grounds of a manor house. It was love at first sight for both of them.
Since they got the keys they have done extensive redecoration and some structural work, including making an open plan lounge and dining room into two separate rooms. They have also put in wooden flooring throughout the house, installed new bathrooms and they are currently hard at work converting one area into a party room. It is a former barn and Simon has scoured reclamation yards around Cheshire to find old ship timbers to help restore this part of the house.
Emma, 28, said: We walked through the door and fell in love with it. People always say you walk in and you know. We just had that gut feeling. There are big fields at the back of the house that the boys can play on and it just feels so peaceful.
The house was lovely before but now weve started to redecorate in our own style it is feeling more like our home. Were having fun doing it too and were really excited about having the party room. We know how to throw a good party and it will be fantastic having everyone over once its finished.
Simon, who used to play with a band called Johnny Mac and the Muppets, grew up in Heald Green. He joined the Coronation Street cast when he was just 15 and is now one of the longest serving members of the cast. But he had never intended to become an actor.
He said: I wanted to be in the RAF and I wanted to race cars. I had dreams of being a Formula 1 driver. I used to race cars on track days and absolutely loved it. But then Coronation Street were asking for two sons to be in the show.
I went along and got the part. Its unbelievable. I thought Id be there for two or three years and it would give me enough money for my first car. When I was that age thats all I cared about. It worked and I got a Suzuki Jeep. Ive been there 22 years now. When I reached 20 years I was given a DVD of my old footage on it. What a terrifying experience that was! I didnt like it.
Simons fame has come at a cost in his late teenage years going out became difficult as he endured relentless teasing and abuse from members of the public and even now he has to endure intrusion into his privacy. On a recent holiday he was videoed playing in the pool with his sons. But, despite this, he couldnt think of anywhere better to work than Corrie.
He said: Im very lucky and its been an incredible time. Ive worked with a lot of brilliant people and its a massive part of my life.As much as I love it, I prefer being at home, spending time with friends and family and enjoying every minute of it.
As we leave the Gregson household, and Alfie and Harry wave us off with the same vigour as they welcomed us, it is easy to see why Simon and Emma love their home life so much.