As a nervous teen, Kate Spencer couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Coronation Street star Sally Dynevor in a restaurant.
Her mum was a huge fan of the soap and never missed an episode, so she rushed up and asked for an autograph.
Now, nine years later, Kate is on the cobbles herself playing Grace Vickers, the ex-girlfriend of Michael Bailey – and she couldn’t resist reminding Sally of their previous encounter.
Kate was studying in Chicago when she met Sally, who plays Sally Metcalfe.
She says: “I was in the Hard Rock Cafe and I saw her.
“My mum is such a massive fan I did that awkward thing where I went up and said, ‘Please can I get your autograph for my mum?’
“Because I was in Chicago, I kept it for three months before I got to give it to her.
“That was nine years ago.
“When I went on set and met her for the first time and introduced myself, I said, ‘This is really awkward but I actually met you nine years ago in Chicago and asked for your autograph’.
“I was really nervous and excited to meet her as it was a weird circle to now be working with her.
“I don’t think she remembered this weird girl in Chicago!
“But she said my mum must be very proud, she’s so lovely.”
Kate, 28, arrived on the cobbles last year as Grace, the mysterious ex of Michael Bailey, played by Ryan Russell.
The characters had dated in 2018 but split when Michael panicked after discovering that Grace was pregnant.
Grace vanished but after a chance encounter last year, they have slowly been rebuilding their relationship – and co-parenting daughter Tianna.
For Kate, the role is her big TV break.
Before Corrie, she had only appeared on screen in one episode of Doctors and had mainly worked in theatre.
She landed the part after a taped audition, so she had never even visited the iconic set or met any of the cast before arriving to film her first scenes.
“I was so nervous!” she laughs.
“I haven’t done much TV.
“I also got the role through self-tapes and hadn’t met anyone in person, so that was petrifying.
“I didn’t know the process.
“I filmed half a day for an episode for Doctors, but nothing like this.
“My mum has watched every single episode, it’s her favourite show, hands down.
“Coronation Street is huge, everyone knows it.
“It’s so iconic, so it was nerve-racking.
“I was anxious about meeting everyone.
“Even though I’m an actor, I had preconceptions about the other actors based on their characters, which is so silly.
“I thought Ali King (Carla Connor) was going to be really intimidating, because Carla is such a strong woman.
“But she’s lovely.
“I was also really nervous to meet Ryan.
“It was also nerve-racking meeting the baby who plays Tianna – babies cry and I didn’t want that!
“On the first day, I sat with her in the creche area so she could get used to my smell and her mum could tell me any tricks.
“That was really important.”
Kate grew up in Ashover, Derbyshire, and was obsessed with being a performer from a young age.
“My mum always said that I wanted to be a backing dancer in music videos,” she recalls.
At 19, she went to America to study acting at Chicago’s Columbia College, going on to gain a degree in American Theatre Arts at college in Kent.
While waiting for her big break she spent time working at Derby Theatre, selling tickets in the box office and serving drinks in the cafe.
She says: “As a young actor you have to be prepared to do other things between roles, so I worked as a casual box office assistant, then did a bit of marketing on Alice in Wonderland and then, as I have coffee machine experience, some shifts in the cafe.”
Fitness fan Kate, who has run several half-marathons, discovered that she had landed the part of Grace while out running.
She says: “Where I live it is super-hilly, so I was running and out of breath.
“I knew I was going to get a call to find out.
“I saw there was a missed call from my agent and I thought I’d go home, calm down, stretch.
“But then I couldn’t wait – it’s Coronation Street!
“So I called my agent back.
“I was out of breath on a pavement when I got the news!”
Kate’s next call was to her mum Ann, who had no idea her daughter had even tried out for the part.
She says: “I didn’t even tell her about the audition because I didn’t want her to get her hopes up, as parents do.
“She is so excitable, it’s ridiculous.
“She shed a tear when I told her.
“She was so cute.
“She’s thrilled I’ve got the part.
“She loves running lines with me.
“She’s always saying, ‘Have you got any scripts you want to go through?’
“And she reads all the spoilers.
“She’s so supportive.”
While she loves her role, Kate feels she has nothing in common with her frosty character.
“When I read the casting breakdown, I didn’t think it was me at all,” she says.
“She was described as very confident, goes after what she wants.
“I was very far from that and wondered if it would be hard to identify with.”
Viewers have since watched Grace blowing hot and cold with besotted Michael – and next week she is stunned when he drops on his knee and proposes. She tells him she loves him but then announces she and Tianna are moving to Spain.
Michael is dumbfounded, so will the couple get their happy-ever-after?
“There are hurdles but I would like them to get together,” Kate says.
“He’s got to prove himself and show he’s there for the long term, and she has to let go of some of her wariness.
“It’s hard for her but that’s what she has to do.”
As to whether she would get on with Grace in real life, Kate is hesitant.
“I’d be friends with her but I think I’d also be a little bit scared and intimidated by her! I wouldn’t say we’re that similar.
“I’m a bit more tactful, a bit more subtle.
“She says what she thinks and would just tell you straight.
“She doesn’t sugar-coat things.”