Fans of Coronation Street’s Jane Hazlegrove may enjoy her status as a Weatherfield mainstay, but the actress has admitted that she never rests on her laurels and has worried that she might be fired from the show.
Nor is it her first time in Corrie. Barbara Knox, the eagle-eyed legend of Coronation Street, was one of the few people who probably noticed that she had actually appeared in the show before.
And it was none other than Barbara, who went by Rita Tanner, the newsagent, as the one who foresaw Jane’s eventual comeback.
Jane spent a year on the cobbles in the 1980s playing teenage Sue Clayton, but she returned to the show in 2019 as Bernie Winter, the mother of twins Gemma and Paul.
Jane remembers, “They gave me a massive card that everyone had signed, including all the legends, when I left the show.” “Lucky Jane,” Barbara Knox had written. Keep in mind that rovers never go away. She proved to be correct.
I was anxious to see her again in case she thought, “Well, has this one changed since she was sixteen?”
She had a profound influence on me as a child, so when I returned, I was overcome with fear that she wouldn’t remember me. She was really kind as she pretended to be.
Despite being Jane’s second experience on the cobbles, it didn’t make her feel any less anxious
“I was really nervous,” she says. When I was sixteen, I had no nerves at all. Although I knew it would be a challenging job, I exuded confidence. It was an entirely different ball game when I showed up at 51.
Teenagers are known for their youthful arrogance and lack of self-doubt. However, I was terrified when I entered as Bernie.
I was afraid that after my first day, my nerves would get the better of me and I would act foolishly. At that point, I would be asked to leave and go through the revolving door.
“I assumed I would forget my lines.” I was afraid of disappointing both the show and myself.
Thus far, Jane’s most cherished plot has involved Bernie’s son Paul’s on-screen marriage to the vicar Billy Mayhew. In the sixty-three-year history of the show, this was the first gay marriage, occurring nine years after same-sex unions became lawful in Britain.
The Derbyshire native Jane has been wed to the actress Isobel Middleton since 2015. That joy, she claims, was not given to her easily; rather, it had to be earned.
She muses, “I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, and things were very different then.” At the time, I had boyfriends and girlfriends and wasn’t out. It took a while, but I’m in a great place now.
For a few years, it was difficult and full of lies and secrets. I gradually came out to various social groups, and things weren’t perfect.
“I have experienced the loss of friendships throughout my journey,” Jane continued, penning a personal essay for during Pride Month.
There were those who said, “I don’t know.” “Well, that’s a big fat shame because that’s really sad and we don’t really know each other, do we?” I responded. I feel depressed about it, but then I realize, “Oh my God, look how far we’ve come.”
After 28 years of dating, Jane, 55, and Isobel, 58, became civil partners in 2010. However, Jane was not interested in establishing a formal relationship at first. Jane had worked as Kathleen “Dixie” Dixon, a Casualty paramedic for eight years.
She remembers saying, “I said, ‘Why are we doing it because we’re suddenly allowed to do it?'” “We took action because Isobel hadn’t been feeling well. We’d lived together for fifteen years, but it was obvious while I was away working on Casualty that I wasn’t really allowed to know anything about how she was because we weren’t related.
The fact that I was powerless to influence what would happen to her enraged me. Thankfully, everything turned out well, but I recall us saying over breakfast the morning following the civil partnership, “Nobody can touch us now.”
“It was a truly amazing thing that we accomplished, and I’m overjoyed that I can now live the life I want with the woman I want to live with.”
Over her four years on Coronation Street, Jane has been a part of many dramatic storylines, but none quite as poignant as the one she is currently in, where Bernie’s son Paul has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, an incurable condition.
After being detained for handling stolen goods, Bernie is currently awaiting her court date. Joel, her attorney, has warned Bernie that she should get ready for a jail term this week. Gemma is devastated when Bernie informs her that she will regrettably miss Paul’s final Christmas if she is locked up.
Jane has been particularly affected by the storyline filming, as her father Dougie passed away during the pandemic.
She says, regretfully, “As we went into lockdown, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.” Only eight people could enter the crematorium, so we weren’t able to properly grieve after his death, which devastated us all.
We’re still working through that as a family because we did miss our loved ones’ absence at the time and their lack of support.
As far as I can tell, coming out of the end of grief is a strange time, so this is what the plot is doing right now—it’s showing everyone trying to come together and get Paul through this and get themselves through it too.
“You never quite know when you’re going to be inside out, backwards, or upside down.”