|Born||14th January 1981|
|Residence||13 Coronation Street|
|Spouse(s)||Ashley Peacock (2004)|
|Children||Freddie Peacock (2006)|
|First appearance||9th April 2003|
|Duration||2003 to present|
|Played by||Julia Haworth|
Claire Peacock (née Casey) is a fictional character in Coronation Street, portrayed by actress Julia Haworth. Claire first appeared in the show in 2003, as the new nanny of established character Ashley Peacock's son Joshua. Her story lines have since seen her fall in love with and marry Ashley, developing post natal depression after giving birth to their son Freddie. Claire was originally intended to be central to a long-running child abduction storyline, however this was dropped by the show's producers as a result of its close resemblance to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
The character has been criticised by Coronation Street 's former executive producer David Liddiment, for being used as a vehicle to support a politicised corporate campaign, encouraging social action and volunteer work. The storyline which saw Claire sectioned for mental health issues after developing post natal depression was similarly criticised by health workers, who opined that the plot line was poorly handled, and could potentially prevent women suffering from the condition from seeking help.
Haworth has commented that she sees the role of Claire as "one job in a career of many jobs". The actress took a temporary break from the show in mid-2008 to give birth to her first child, though her character never left officially onscreen. The character appeared back on the street on Monday 16th February 2009.
Upon her 2003 arrival in Coronation Street, Claire was described by the show's producers as "Weatherfield's answer to Mary Poppins". Of her personality, they stated that "On the surface she seems quiet, but is more than capable of fighting her corner. Although Claire and on-screen husband Ashley temporarily separated after Ashley's affair with Casey Carswell, the show's producers have described their renewed relationship as being "domestic bliss". Actress Julia Haworth has called Claire a "a one man girl", commenting: "I truly believe with Claire and Ashley that what doesn't kill them only makes them stronger. I really do think that they're a solid couple and they can get through whatever life throws at them. They're probably the only couple in the Street I can say that about.
Asked how long she saw herself remaining in the role of Claire in September 2006, Haworth responded; "I class myself as an actress that goes from job to job. [...] I've always just seen this as one job in a career of many jobs, hopefully. But I'm really enjoying myself here and there's a great team of people. We've got brilliant writers. So for the time being, I'm very happy here. The actress took a break from Coronation Street in mid-2008, after falling pregnant with her first child. Claire was temporarily written out of the show, but will return in 2009.
A storyline which would have seen Claire crash a tram into the Rovers Return Inn failed to reach fruition in 2005. Although Claire applied for a job as a tram driver on screen, the plotline developed no further. Chris Mulligan, Director General of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive revealed that; "Following an approach from Granada Television, we made it clear that we would find any storyline involving a tram accident questionable. Given Metrolink's excellent safety record, we felt that such a sensationalist storyline would be both misleading and detrimental to the image of the network. Cheryl Hubbard from Serco Metrolink added; "We were concerned because there were safety implications which they were planning to portray in a bad light. They contacted us and asked what it was like for our drivers during training, but because they were planning to then have her driving a tram off the viaduct we said if that's going to be the case we weren't happy with it at all. I think people in Manchester would also be unhappy about them portraying the specific Manchester tram system in this sort of light. However, Coronation Street officials denied that the storyline was pulled due to Manchester transport officials' concerns. A spokeswoman for the show stated: "It was one of the storylines being mooted for the year and it was decided not to pursue it. We felt we'd had quite a lot of high-octane drama in the planning block it would have fallen into. It was simply a decision by the programme makers to have something more light-hearted instead. They decided on Les and Cilla's wedding, which will be no less a high production number. A smaller scale storyline aired the same year saw Claire instead train as a bus driver, accidentally running down Chesney Battersby-Brown's dog Schmeichel on her first day.
Discussing the plot line which saw Claire develop post natal depression and attempt to kill her newborn son Freddie, Haworth said: "There have been a lot of tears in the past few weeks so it’s been quite tough for me living and breathing the storyline. It’s been quite a shock doing the storyline as Claire has been so good with kids in the past. But it’s brilliant to have such a meaty storyline. She summarised the plot line as having been "very draining", explaining; "You can't help take some of it home with you, but that's how you really learn about your character. Regardless, she stated that the post-natal depression had been her favourite storyline as Claire; "because it stretched me as an actress and gave me the chance to follow something from beginning to end and make it my own. When announcing her own pregnancy, she assessed that the storyline had helped her prepare for the same possibility: "I know that if I do feel like that then it’s not unusual and I’ll know the steps to take. So out of a very harrowing storyline something good has come. Of her initial reaction to the plot line, she explained: "I was delighted with it because I've been in the show for three-and-a-half years and this seemed like the storyline I could finally get my teeth into and show the different sides to Claire. I do believe she is a multi-faceted person whereas a lot of people just say 'I think she's a bit dull, a bit boring and a bit nice', so this was a chance to say 'well no, she's a lot more complex than you take her for'.
The storyline which saw character Casey Carswell set fire to the Peacock's home while Claire was inside with son Freddie, was initially intended to be the beginning of a four month long child abduction plot. However, the coinciding disappearance of Madeleine McCann caused the event to be quickly rewritten, despite the fact the cast were already two weeks into filming. A Coronation Street spokeswoman said: "We are aware that there are some similarities in a future Coronation Street storyline to the events surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. We would not wish to add to the family's anguish at this terrible time and we are currently reviewing our storyline including episodes which have already been filmed. There were some quite disturbing similarities to the situation in Portugal and we didn't want to add to the torment of Madeleine's parents. There were differences, too, but we took the view that it was just too close to the situation in Portugal.
Claire first arrived in Coronation Street as nanny to Joshua Peacock, after his mother Maxine was murdered by Richard Hillman. A romance developed between Claire and Joshua's father, Ashley, and the couple married on Christmas Day 2004. On 17 July 2006, Claire gave birth to their son, Thomas. However, she suffered from severe post natal depression, avoided spending time with Thomas, and lacked any interest in him. After attempting to return her child to the hospital, claiming he must have been switched at birth, and pushing him in his pram into the middle of a busy road, Claire was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. She was allowed to return home a month later, and chose to rename Thomas as Freddie, following the death of Ashley's father, Fred Elliott.
Claire was a crucial supporting character in the Charlie Stubbs and Tracy Barlow storyline which began to develop in late 2006. Tracy began to befriend Claire when she and Charlie moved in next door to the Peacocks. However, her friendship with the naive Claire was just a ploy to get her on side as she plotted her revenge on cheating Charlie. Claire became very suspicious and worried when she heard arguments and slamming doors next door and became convinced that Tracy was a genuine victim of domestic abuse. She began to keep record of all the occurrences, much to the delight of Tracy who was pretending that Charlie was beating her. When Tracy killed Charlie in January 2007, loyal Claire stood by her and testified on her behalf in court at the murder trial. However, Claire's evidence was disputed as her history of mental illness was brought up by the prosecution.
In 2007, Claire began working for Weatherfield's 'Women In Crisis' helpline, where she met and befriended a woman who had lost her child - Casey Carswell. The pair fell out when Casey took baby Freddie without informing Claire. In May of that year, when Claire was home alone with Freddie, the Peacock residence was engulfed by flames. While Claire was rescued from the burning building, Freddie was not, and was missing presumed dead until later found in a local park. The police revealed that an accelerant had been discovered at the focal point of the fire, indicating that it was started deliberately. Due to her previous mental illness, Claire was suspected of and arrested for the crime, although was later released without charge. Claire privately suspected Casey of starting the fire, and was later revealed to be being stalked by the character, who went on to begin an affair with Ashley. Claire and Ashley separated when his infidelity was revealed, but were reunited after it emerged that Casey had indeed been behind the fire, and was narrowly prevented from killing herself and Freddie after abducting the boy.
In 2008, Claire and Ashley began experiencing financial difficulty. In a bid to reduce costs, Claire agreed to a house swap with friend and neighbour Sally Webster. Contention arose, however, when Claire believed Sally had manipulated their estate agent into overvaluing the Websters' home, while undervaluing the Peacocks' home. The two families were forced to live together temporarily, when a wiring fault with the Websters' former home meant the Peacocks had to move out again while it was repaired. Claire and Sally fell out when Claire discovered vintage Beatles programmes in the attic of the Websters' former home, and sold them for £7,000. Sally threw the Peacocks out, and the family have now gone to live with Claire's mother.
However, Kevin and Ashley have remained on good terms and Ashley and Claire are living in the Websters old home again. Sally and Claire were seen talking friendly in March 2009 citing the actress' return from her maternity leave. The feud seems to have been forgotten.
In 2005, The Guardian writer and former Coronation Street executive producer David Liddiment heavily criticized a storyline which saw Claire campaign to save the show's fictional 'Red Rec' recreation ground, deeming it "a political sop". He wrote: "At the end of each episode viewers were invited to find out more about volunteering by contacting ITV's Britain on the Move campaign. This, apparently, is the Year of the Volunteer. So Claire's storyline was really a bit of social action working undercover in Britain's most popular show. Liddiment claimed that the storyline damaged the show's editorial integrity, asserting "Not only was the Red Rec storyline created specifically to support a corporate campaign, it was introduced at the behest of ITV CEO Charles Allen who, we are told with some trumpeting on the ITV website, helped devise it. [...] Television, and ITV in particular, has a sterling record of social action campaigns on- and off-air. But soap, corporate agendas and politicians make a heady mix best avoided.
The 2006 storyline which saw Claire develop post natal depression was deemed irresponsible by health workers from the Pendlebury Health Centre. They claimed; "Detaining women in mental health units with postnatal depression would be an extremely rare occurrence. We were very concerned that the plot had child protection being considered when Claire presented at hospital rather than urgently alerting the health visitor service for additional support. Many women with this illness are concerned that they may have their baby taken from them and as postnatal depression is treatable this is highly unlikely to happen. We do hope that this storyline will not prevent women from seeking help if they are feeling low following the birth of a baby.
Coronation Street's producer Steve Frost defended the storyline, stating; "While many women in a similar situation receive help from the medical community such as doctors, health visitors and midwives, Claire went to great lengths to conceal the extent of her problems from everyone - even her husband Ashley - and was perceived by most people to be someone coping excellently with her role as a new mum. The psychiatrists who advised us felt there could be a case for Claire's detention. In addition, great pains were taken not to confuse post-natal depression with puerperal psychosis.
Conversely, Guardian reviewer Nancy Banks-Smith deemed Claire the "voice of reason" at the climax of the storyline which saw her son Freddie abducted by former friend Casey Carswell. However, commenting on the re-write of the plot strand because of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Banks-Smith asserted that it had "never made much sense, even by soap standards", using the depiction of Claire as an example of the show's over-embellished writing: "Even in a tragic episode, the writing in Coronation Street is like a stone skipping across deep water. The script, like a Victorian pub, is so embellished with grapes and roses that you know the stonemason is just indulging himself. Claire, originally a mouse, has taken to flashing her eyes, floating her hair and calling herself the Madwoman of Shalott, a very literary joke. Like Knickbocker's Gloria, this is just the writer, Jonathan Harvey, playing with words.
|Ken Barlow | Emily Bishop | Rita Sullivan | Peter Barlow | Betty Williams | Deirdre Barlow | Gail McIntyre | Audrey Roberts | Jack Duckworth | Nick Tilsley | Kevin Webster | Bill Webster | Sally Webster | Liz McDonald | Steve McDonald | Rosie Webster | David Platt | Norris Cole | Sophie Webster | Roy Cropper | Ashley Peacock | Janice Battersby | Leanne Battersby | Hayley Cropper | Tyrone Dobbs | Dev Alahan | Eileen Grimshaw | Kirk Sutherland | Jason Grimshaw | Sunita Alahan | Fiz Stape | Joshua Peacock | Simon Barlow | Sean Tully | Chesney Battersby-Brown | Claire Peacock | Amy Barlow | Kelly Crabtree | Lloyd Mullaney | Molly Dobbs | Amber Kalirai | Aadi Alahan | Asha Alahan | Becky McDonald | Michelle Connor | Freddie Peacock | Ryan Connor | Carla Connor | Teresa Bryant | Tony Gordon | Tina McIntyre | Graeme Proctor | Julie Carp | Ted Page | Natasha Blakeman | Joe McIntyre | Pam Hobsworth | Eddie Windass | Anna Windass | Gary Windass | Minnie Chandra | Jesse Chadwick | Sian Powers | Connie Rathbone|