Actor Peter Gunn tells Simone O’Kane about filming with US superstar and his Street role

BEING recognised for his role in Coronation Street is a regular occurrence for East Lancashire actor, Peter Gunn, who recently left the cobbles after a three year stint.

Best-known for playing the role of Brian Packham, he was the partner of Julie Carp and the head teacher of Bessie Street School.

To Hannah Montana fans and American audiences, he is probably best known for portraying British journalist, Oswald Granger in the 2009 award-winning film, Hannah Montana: The Movie, where he was living a Disney actor’s lifestyle for three months with his wife and two sons, working alongside Miley Cyrus.

“I spent one month filming in Tennessee and two months in LA filming the Hannah Montana movie and it was incredible,” said Peter who lives in Blackburn with his family.

“It was amazing and to get the job I needed to submit a showreel or something similar. I didn’t have one at the time so my mum Barbara came to the rescue. She has got a cuttings book called Peter’s Progress. There’s everything in there from my first theatre performance to the movies I have done. So yes, that’s how I landed my Disney film role,” said Peter who is originally from Lytham St Annes.

Cyrus has come in for criticism for her twerking antics and tongue wagging, but the father-of-two said spending time in Nashville with the then 15-year-old actress, was a pleasure.

“Miley Cyrus is a fantastic performer and the girl can sing. My wife and I went to the premier in Hollywood and at the UK premier she stopped and took her time to speak to me and the family, remembering our names. People call her now, but at a young age when she should have been having her teenage time, instead she was working hard, being the highest paid teenager in history. I remember in America, she bought a $20,000 chandelier from a Rodeo Drive store. Not many teenagers can do that,” said Brian who trained at RADA, studying amongst some strong actors including Jane Horrocks and Ralph Fiennes.

With an impressive résumé in film, theatre and television, the successful actor landed his role on Coronation Street in 2011.

He’s appeared on A Touch of Frost, Casualty, Skins – the list is endless, but the father-of two admitted that his time on the famous street has been the most enjoyable.

He now spends his spare time away from acting as a governor at Lamack Primary School.

“I watched Coronation Street as a young teenager and to be a part of it is something else. It is such a powerful soap and viewers are genuinely interested in your life on and off screen,” said Peter, referring to the soap’s near-ten million viewers.

“The first time I appeared on the show, I remember sitting in the green room, there was a door that opened up straight onto the cobbles and I gasped when I first stet foot on the street. I really had to calm myself down, the first time I was in the Rovers, and in Rita’s cabin it was surreal. In Ken and Deidrie’s living room Bill Roache even told me to get down and kiss the carpet – so I did, it’s sacred, and the whole set just dripped with history,” he said.

The 51-year-old also became close to many of his co-stars, including Bill Roache who was recently cleared of historic sexual abuse allegations.

“I am relieved for Bill that he has come through it,” he said. “I feel sorry for him having to go through the process and that nobody has come out a winner. Surely it will have a lasting effect on him. Knowing him as I did he was somebody with integrity and strength and he went out of his way to make me feel at home and I hope he goes back with as much enjoyment and pride as he used to have.”

As his contract came to an end earlier this year, so did Brian Packham’s storyline as when he left Weatherfield for Wales for a new job. It was a good time to exit according to the actor, a time when the Coronation Street cast scooped the Best Soap award in January.

Peter, who lives with his wife Julie, 47, and two sons George, 14, and Tom, 11, said: “The crew are fantastic and the show deserves every award they win. I left before filming started on the new Media City set, but it will be just as impressive. People feel sad but it’s like an old pair of slippers that you don’t want to replace. But when you get rid of them and swap them for a new pair, you wonder what it was you were bothered about. I have worked with some great people who are really are truly inspirational.”