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Real life of Coronation Street’s Gail Platt actress Helen Worth – age, famous first marriage, heartbreaking tragedy and quitting soap

In Europe
June 08, 2024

It’ll be the end of an era later this year in Coronation Street as Gail Platt will leave Weatherfield in what is being described as an ’emotional’ exit for the much-loved character.

Actress Helen Worth has recently announced the difficult decision to step down from her role in the ITV soap as she celebrates a major milestone. She will celebrate her golden anniversary on the show next month (July) but by the end of 2024, viewers will see Helen and Gail bid farewell to Weatherfield in a major storyline for the Platt family.

It has been confirmed that the 73-year-old will start filming her exit story next month and the emotional scenes will be on screen at the end of the year.

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Speaking of her upcoming exit, Helen has said: “This year felt like the perfect time to leave the show after celebrating 50 years in the most wonderful job on the most wonderful street in the world. I made the decision at the start of the year and spoke to the producers who were very kind and understanding.

“I have been truly blessed to have been given the most incredible scripts week in week out, and to have worked with fantastic actors, directors and a brilliant crew. The past 50 years have flown by and I don’t think the fact that I am leaving has quite sunk in yet.”

The acting legend joined the ITV soap at 23 years old in 1979, which was 14 years after viewers were first introduced to the people of Weatherfield. She was initially intended to be very minor, a friend of the more established character Tricia Hopkins, who was introduced as part of a new family.

The Hopkins family made little impact on the show, and, after they were written out, Gail went on to become one of the most popular and high-profile characters in the history of the series. The Platt matriarch has over the years endured a number of failed romances, prison time, near-death experiences, drama with her children and recently found out her brother was a serial killer.

Helen during her early years in the ITV soap as Gail -Credit:ITV

Helen during her early years in the ITV soap as Gail -Credit:ITV

In terms of Helen’s career, she graduated from drama school and went on to work in repertory theatre, which included a year with the BBC Radio repertory company. She has had uncredited bit-parts in the films Oliver! and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and appeared on television in the Doctor Who story Colony in Space, The Doctors, Helen: A Woman of Today, Within These Walls, and The Carnforth Practice.

But her actual first known role was in Z-Cars, a police series on BBC One, in which she played the role of Maisie for one episode. However, she was then known by Helen Wiggleworth And Helen Worth technically isn’t her real name – she was born Cathryn Helen Wigglesworth – but has apparently never explained the reason for the change.

As for Corrie, Helen has been a mainstay in the ITV soap’s cast and in 2014 was honoured by ITV with a 30-minute documentary celebrating her 40 years on the ITV serial drama, with a one-off special titled Gail & Me. At the time, the TV icon has said she planned never to quit the street, saying she was happy with Gail’s never-ending drama, and that she loved her job.

And last year, she was left beaming with joy as she was made an MBE by the Prince of Wales. She swapped the famous Coronation Street cobbles for Windsor Castle in January and was full of praise for Prince William. Helen told the PA news agency: “He (William) was so lovely, so easy. He asked all the right questions. He was very complimentary.”

Helen collecting her MBE -Credit:Getty Images

Helen collecting her MBE -Credit:Getty Images

She added: “It just feels absolutely wonderful. To collect an MBE is very special. But to receive it in this beautiful building and to be able to walk through it and look at all these pictures and tapestries, I love castles and houses in history, and so for me to come here today is just absolutely wonderful.”

And, while her life off-screen hasn’t been as dramatic, it has had its ups and downs from a childhood loss to unfaithful marriage splits. In her life behind the cameras, Helen has opened up about her own two marriages – first to the late Michael Angelis and secondly to teacher Trevor Dawson.

The soap star married Liverpool-born narrator Michael, who will be recognised for voicing Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, in 1991, after meeting years earlier in the 70s.

But, just a few years after tying the knot, the couple hit rocky ground after he had an affair in 1995 and revealed his infidelity to his wife after it was leaked to the press. Despite forgiving Michael, Helen later divorced him in 2001 when it was revealed that the star had been involved in another affair with model Jennifer Khalastchi – who he went on to marry in the same year.

Speaking to the Mirror at the time of her heartbreaking split from Michael, who died at the age of 76 in May 2020, Helen said: “Nothing can ever prepare you for the day your husband sits you down and tells you he is having an affair.

“My marriage was everything to me. It was the foundation on which everything else was built. I had been with Michael for nearly half of my life. I never imagined that we wouldn’t grow old together.”

Helen with the late Michael Angelis on their wedding day -Credit:PA

Helen with the late Michael Angelis on their wedding day -Credit:PA

More than a decade after her divorce, Helen went on to marry Trevor in 2013, and admits it was ‘love at first sight’ with the ‘gorgeous’ music teacher from London. Speaking to her former co-star Nigel Havers on a segment on This Morning back in 2021, she said: “I met Trevor about 10 years ago and I just thank my lucky stars really.

“He’s just gorgeous.” And Trevor has previously shared how she managed to woo him. “Cooking is Helen’s department. I do the consuming. She’s really good.” But Trevor, who is seven years younger than Helen, had already been a fan of the star – regularly watching her character on screen.

“We watch the show together. I had always been a fan going back some years. I used to watch it with my mum. Of course, Gail was my favourite,” he told The Mirror in 2016. The pair actually kept their relationship private for more than a year before tying the knot in 2012 in front of many of her Corrie co-stars.

The newlyweds were greeted by nearly 200 well-wishers who cheered as they emerged from the ceremony. Helen said to their guests at the time: “It’s been the most fantastic day, it has exceeded all expectations. We are thrilled that so many of our friends and family could be here to celebrate with us.”

Despite having long lived in London, Helen grew up in Morecambe, Lancashire. At the age of eight, her parents fostered an 11-year-old Ghanaian-born overseas student, who remained with the family for eight years.

He left their home shortly after Helen’s mother was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident. The actress was just 20 at the time, and has spoken about her devastation that her mum never got to see her in the legendary role as Gail. The Daily Star reports Helen said in a previous interview: “The one person I really wanted to tell when I got the part of Gail was my mother.

“She would have been so thrilled. More excited than me. She’d been there all the way – at the dance classes, holding my hand before the competitions, putting on her best suit to take me to London for auditions. But when I finally made it, she wasn’t there to share it with me. I’d never missed her more.”

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