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Rhiannon Clements and Harriet Bibby, both ALRA North 2019 graduates, have both gained TV roles for characters named Summer this November. Rhiannon plays Cormac's daughter Summer Ranger in Channel 4's Hollyoaks and Harriet plays Summer Spellman in ITV's Coronation Street. Harriet said "Me and Rhiannon have laughed at how strange it is that we are both Summers!"

We spoke to Rhiannon and Harriet to get their behind-the-scenes thoughts and feelings about being on the shows and how they got there.


What’s it like being part of such an iconic programme?

Rhiannon: It’s unreal! I keep having to pinch myself that I’m actually in it, especially as I used to watch the show when I was younger. The whole team is brilliant on Hollyoaks and the audience who watch it are great, so I'm feeling very blessed to be a part of the show.

Harriet: Coronation Street is such a popular programme, and with it being the programmes 60th anniversary this year, everyone seems to be talking about it! I am so thrilled to be joining the cast at such an exciting time for the show. I’ve watched Corrie for as long as I can remember and can’t quite believe I’m now part of the cast.


How was the experience different under Covid-19 safety measurements?

Rhiannon: I feel really safe on set as there are lots of protocols and systems set out very clearly to keep everyone protected including social distancing, wearing masks and keeping to certain zones. I came in while measurements were already in place so it’s my 'normal'.

Harriet: Obviously filming has been different due to Covid-19. ITV have all the necessary precautions in place to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe. We are keeping distanced at all times and masks are being worn when appropriate. Despite all the precautions it’s still an absolute blast!


Can you talk us through the casting process? What did you have to prepare?

Rhiannon: I had to prepare two scenes and read them with one of the actors in the show. It was quite nerve-wracking because it was such a big opportunity, especially after lockdown and the uncertainty that came with that, but the casting team and the actor reading with me were so warm and supportive. I had a chat with the team, did the scenes, then was redirected a couple of times and had a chat about the character, then I got the call saying I’d got the job about a week later!

Harriet: For the casting process I initially had to record a self-tape with an audition scene ITV had sent to me. I was then invited in for a screen test at the studios and I read the same scene that I’d been sent previously, so that was the only thing I’d had to prepare. They then called me two days later to tell me I’d got the role! 


Can you pass on any tips for someone going to work on a set for the first time?

Rhiannon: To be prepared and fluid enough to change anything and to be open to everything. Also to enjoy it, relax, drink in as much as you can, and ask questions if you’re not sure on anything because the more comfortable you are with everything, the freer you’ll be when it comes to shooting.

Harriet: Going onto a professional set for the first time can be daunting, but my advice would just be to make sure you have thoroughly practiced and prepared everything you need to before you head on set. If you know your character, your lines and your intentions before you go on, you have done everything you can do and will make things much easier for yourself when you’re in front of the camera. 


What particular skills did you draw on from your ALRA training?

Rhiannon: I think the thing I drew on the most was parts of movement training and instinct work to help me become more natural on camera and to be able to work quickly to find the character's truth. I drew on techniques for line learning and camera techniques.

Harriet: ALRA prepared me so well in knowing what to expect and what was expected from me on a professional set. I know what work and research I have to do for my character before heading into work and how to present myself on a professional set.


What are your favourite memories of training at ALRA?

Rhiannon: The final year shows and our introduction into the industry within that year. Also when we had new members of staff come in during our final year - they encouraged us to explore our authenticity and individuality, and helped us navigate that and equip us. 

Harriet: My favourite memories while training at ALRA North have to be during the final year shows. Not only all the hard work, but the funny stories and how much closer we became to the friends that we’d made throughout our whole time at the school.