After only 12 months in Coronation Street, Market Rasen-born actress Harriet Bibby has already been nominated for an award and is loving her time on ITV’s iconic soap.
Harriet’s love for acting started when she featured in school productions Market Rasen C of E Primary School as a child. When she was at secondary school at De Aston School she got into the National Youth Theatre summer school programme.
After achieving a BA in Acting at The Academy of Live & Recorded Arts (ALRA) North in Wigan, Harriet featured as Clara Bindon in an episode of BBC’s Doctors last year.
She then got her big break to star as Summer Spellman in Coronation Street, which she started filming on September 28 last year.
Exactly a year on, the 23-year-old found out she’d been nominated for Best Newcomer at the Inside Soap Awards. Voting open until 12pm on October 29 – vote for Harriet here.
The Lincolnite spoke with Harriet about her first year in Coronation Street, her pride at featuring in important storylines, being starstruck by fellow cast members, and the support from back home in Lincolnshire.
Harriet did a self-tape with a script before being asked to go in for a screen test with her on-screen dad Billy, who is played by Daniel Brocklebank, in August last year.
She officially took over the role of Summer Spellman, previously played by Matilda Freeman, in September last year and her first episode was aired in November.
The Lincolnshire star describes her character Summer as a 17-year-old, who is very academic but sometimes things can get on top of her.
Reflecting on getting the part, Harriet, who now lives in Manchester with her sister Nancy, said: “It was really quite surreal, I was so happy. This past 18 months has been difficult for everyone and it has taken a big hit on the acting industry.
“It felt amazing to get the part and I felt lucky to be given the opportunity.
“We’ve always watched Corrie as a family since I was little, pushing bedtime back when I was younger to watch it until the end. I still watch Corrie at home now as I’ve always been a fan of the show and enjoy seeing back the work I’ve put in.
“I’ve grown very attached to Summer and I hope we get to follow her journey for as long as possible. The first year has been amazing, it’s been a dream.
“Although it’s been quite strange during COVID, it’s been a good year and I feel part of the furniture. Then characters like Ken (Barlow) walk through and they are like ‘pinch me’ moments, reminding me what I’ve achieved.
“I’ve watched the show all my life so every face that walked into the green room, I was like “ah”. I was definitely star struck by pretty much everyone on the show and then got to know them.
“I was especially starstruck by Simon (Gregson), who plays Steve McDonald and Tracey Barlow (played by Kate Ford) – they are definitely icons of the show.”
It’s been quite a year for Harriet on the show as Summer has been run over by a car, her dad’s separated, she got a new boyfriend, and she’s been involved in big storylines involving diabetes and hate crime.
The hate crime story line got a big reaction on social media and gained national media coverage. Summer was part of a group of teens who encountered Seb and Nina, who are played by Harry Visinoni and Mollie Gallagher respectively.
Summer decided to go home when some of the group started to insult Nina. A small gang led by Corey Brent (Maximus Evans) followed Seb and Nina home and attacked them, resulting in Seb’s death.
Harriet, who is represented by Red Door Management, said: “That story line was huge and we have a really great young cast who worked hard to tell that story. We worked with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as it is inspired by her story.
“We worked with them and Sophie’s mum to get it right. We felt a unity in the show that we were doing something important.
“With so many things in the world we live in today, it is easy to pick people up for being different, but Coronation Street celebrates people who are unique and it is why the show is so important. It got a great response on social media with people saying how good it was to share that story on a large platform.”
Harriet also did a lot of research into Type 1 diabetes to prepare her for another story line, and spoke with a girl called Natalie who has the condition.
She added: “I was happy to be involved in this important story line. I didn’t know anything about Type 1 diabetes so it was eye opening for me and I realised how difficult its as to deal with.
“I was glad to be given that storyline and will follow Summer through it. It raises awareness and it is important for those with Type 1 diabetes to feel seen and know they are not going through it alone.”
Harriet, who is also a singing teacher on Saturdays, tries to return home to Lincolnshire every month, saying: “It’s such a small town, I feel everyone knows everyone. Even walking through Tesco I get more eyes looking at me. It has been a really positive reaction from the town.
“It’s really nice when I go back home and people chat to me about it.
“Even if you don’t watch the show, you will have watched it before and everyone knows about Coronation Street, so it’s lovely going home and seeing how excited people are, and that they are there for you. cheering you on. I want to thank everyone who has supported me.”
Harriet doesn’t have too many plans for the future as the industry is unpredictable, but she remains fully focused on developing the character, including Summer trying to get into Oxford University.
Harriet now faces a wait to find out whether or not she will win the Best Newcomer award, saying: “I was so happy when I found out last week.
“I would love to win it and happy to be nominated. It is great to be involved in a show like Corrie that is recognised for its work.”
In addition to Coronation Street, Harriet has also been in an episode of Sky One’s Brassic. The new series airs from Wednesday, October 6.
Harriet’s Mum Emma is proud of her daughter’s success, saying: “It’s been an amazing journey.
“We have travelled with her from being a palm tree in her reception nativity to engaging the audience as Buttons in her year six Cinderella production at Market Rasen Primary, before seeing De Aston and ALRA allowing her amazing talent to shine.
“I am over the moon that she is working in her chosen profession and is having such a fabulous start to her career as an actor.”
Her dad Stewart added: “Watching Harriet develop from a student interested in acting and going through drama school onto her TV appearances has been thrilling. It’s lovely to see all of her hard work and dedication pay off.”