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Washing away the soap tag

Suranne Jones has come a long way since treading the cobbles of Weatherfield. The bubbly brunette actress left Coronation Street in 2004 and has since made the transition to female lead, with roles in TV dramas Strictly Confidential and last year's Unforgiven, starring alongside Peter Davison.

While she certainly enjoyed her days playing feisty Karen McDonald, Suranne's happy to be getting on with her career outside the soap.

"I loved Karen McDonald but I'm moving forwards not backwards," she admits.

The actress has got more than enough to be getting on with. Next month sees her return to the small screen in Five Days, the follow-up to the BBC's groundbreaking foray into 'event TV' in 2007.

The original followed the investigation into the disappearance of a young mother and her two children -- and was shown nightly over the space of a week, to critical acclaim.

The second series, again penned by Gwyneth Hughes, is a different story and a different cast -- Suranne's co-stars include Anne Reid, David Morrissey and Bernard Hill.



Baby

Set in Yorkshire, it starts with the discovery of a newborn baby in a hospital toilet at the same time that a Trans-Pennine train crashes due to a suicidal jumper.

Suranne plays DC Laurie Franklin, who happens to be on the train with her elderly mum (Reid) and becomes embroiled in the investigation.

"She's a detective who lived in London for 15 years, was married, now divorced, and her mother gets taken ill, so she takes a demotion to move back to her hometown in Yorkshire," explains the 31-year-old.

"I'm back to being a PC which I hate and sleeping in a single bed in my mum's bungalow which I also hate. At 36 years old it's not the best place to be."

The day before she starts her new job, Laurie is taking her mum to hospital to sort out her drugs for Alzheimer's when they're caught up in the train crash.

"I'm the only competent person on the train, so I get involved in the investigation, but back at work the detective investigators don't like the fact that a PC is involved.

"I love it, I want to get seconded into the investigation, because that's where my talents lie."

Besides having to cope with a sick mother, Laurie faces sexism at work and is something of a "loner" who gradually forges a relationship with another loner, played by Morrissey.

Oldham-born Suranne is no stranger to the fame game. She had drama lessons as a child, found an agent at 15 and was just 21 when she landed the part of seamstress Karen McDonald. In the four years she was in Corrie, she won awards for best, sexiest and most popular actress.

Then came the all-important first TV role after leaving the soap, which saw her on screen opposite Ray Winstone in detective drama series Vincent.

Kay Mellor's Strictly Confidential followed, with Suranne playing a bisexual sex therapist, but the performance she's most proud of to date was as convicted murderer Ruth Slater in ITV's Unforgiven.



Marathon

Aside from her TV work, Suranne spends plenty of time treading the boards. She's just finished a run in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit in Manchester and was in a play for an old friend last year, who paid her in coffee.

This year, she's gearing up for two very different challenges: she will run the London Marathon in April, for Clic Sargent, a children's cancer charity, and walk the Great Wall of China three days later for The Fire Fighters Charity.

"It will be tough, but nothing like a child going through chemotherapy or a firefighter recovering from burns," she says.

Five Days starts on BBC One on March 1


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