So what's it like leaving the top job of investigative journalist for the Salford Star to go back into the top soap in the country?…Leaving the rarefied world of Salford media, where rewards include a cup of tea and a biscuit - if you're lucky - to mix with the stars, and be re-born as the baddest baddy on tv? Did Nigel Pivaro ever think twice?
Of course he did…didn't he?
"Well I went back for Vera's funeral around four years ago, had just started writing and I was concerned at that early stage I might be undermining myself as journalist because I was going back to such a high profile show in a high profile part" he explains "I'd just got my feet under the table, got lots of stories under my belt and felt like a journalist after years in another job as an actor. I felt comfortable as a journalist…"
Yeah, writing for the Salford Star…
"…amongst many other publications…" he laughs "But then I started to think, after doing three or four years of journalism that there is actually no reason on God's earth why I couldn't co-exist the two jobs. Craig Charles does Radio 6 and Coronation Street too, and I thought `He does two jobs, I could do Coronation Street and do my journalism as well, but that will never happen now because it's a long time since I've done it and all that's in the past'.
"I buried that thought and then three weeks later got a call out of the blue asking if I would be interested in coming back" he adds "So there it was. I cleared my desk of stories, put stuff on hold and threw myself into it."
Nigel returns as Terry Duckworth, who opens a lap dancing club on Coronation Street, much to the annoyance of the residents.
"I think it's a good way of Terry making his mark on the place that he left and telling everyone else that he can make good and shoving it to them" Nigel says, with a little touch of menace "There is a degree of latent vengeance to all the people he grew up with and knew. It's like saying `Not only can I make it on my own doorstep and stomping ground but I can have a lap dancing club too'. It's like sticking two fingers up to them really. It's not like having a wine shop or a haberdashers, it's obviously going to antagonise them.
"He's still very much a villain, he's not redeemed yet" he adds "I do look forward to the day when, like some villains, the leopard will change his spots and he will actually come good. But that day still hasn't arrived..."
Even the publicity pictures show Terry punching his own son, Tommy, on the Street, and the 21 episodes that Nigel has now filmed are sure to be explosive. For anyone who doesn't remember, one of Terry's most evil acts was to sell his son, who is about to be, er, re-acquainted with his dad. Meanwhile, Tommy's mum, Lisa Horton, met her doom in a car accident…
"She died…got run over, a case of Ford Escort poisoning" Nigel recalls "I'm not even sure that Terry wasn't involved in that because she had an affair with Des Barnes while Terry was banged up. Des got a beating and she got run over – of course, it could just have been an unfortunate accident…"
The Nigel laugh that follows is just a bit too close to Terry…Having tried for years to live down the role that made him a household name, why go back?
"If you can't beat it, join it" he decides "I don't have to prove anything to anyone. That was a problem in show business in a way… `Will you be right for this part or that part, because you're so well known from Coronation Street'…but that doesn't matter in journalism because if the story's good enough and credible enough the story goes up. You can even write under a different name. That's the beauty of journalism. In my mind it doesn't come into it as a hindrance."
Indeed, in the world of journalism the face has helped…it's hilarious to watch Nigel going in somewhere to ask about regeneration or whatever only to be met by confused, open mouthed interviewees…
"When I started at the Tameside Reporter or even doing work experience at the Evening News, knocking on someone's door, cold calling, I always found that for once in my life my face was an advantage" he explains "The best bit was when you do an investigative piece for something, like…"
The Salford Star!
"Yes, the Salford Star – I'll get struck off by the NUJ after this - the best thing is to walk into, say, a builder's office while doing an investigation for the Salford Star and because they recognise you off the telly it's an ice breaker."
And now it's all about to break for a new generation who might not remember Terry Duckworth's greatest exploits. There's still a certain amount of trepidation but RADA trained Nigel is more comfortable with the tag these days.
"Going back in the Street was thoroughly exhausting but at the same time thoroughly exhilarating because after five years as a journalist it was a change, like a holiday" he decides "It was good to see people go I go back thirty years with too, like Mike Lavelle, Barbara Knox, Anne Kirkbride and Eileen Derbyshire, real troopers. It was lovely picking up those relationships, and the challenge of creating new working relationships like with Chris Fountain, who plays Tommy, and Michelle Keegan who plays Tina. It was quite a challenge. Now, if they say `Do you want to come back again?' I'd say `Absolutely'. The two jobs are compatible."
Meanwhile, having finished filming all the episodes, expect to see Nigel Pivaro, journalist, writing again for the Salford Star…
"…and other publications" he adds "It's like starting the big engine up again and getting the leads, following the leads and taking it from there…"
And looking forward to when the Salford Star gets back into print…
"Yes, and looking forward to when the Salford Star gets back into print…"
And maybe anyone from Coronation Street who wants to see that could give us a donation…
"Yes" Nigel faithfully repeats, on pain of having his cup of tea removed "all donations from my fellow cast members on Coronation Street, especially those who have got strong Salford connections, would be duly welcomed…"
Nigel Pivaro plays Terry Duckworth on Coronation Street starting tonight ITV 1 7:30pm and 8:30pm
* Sharp eyed viewers might just be able to spot one of our tangerine Salford Star mugs on the set…