An actor who settled in Cumbria after performing at the Theatre by the Lake is this week appearing in front of millions of TV viewers having landed a role in Coronation Street.
Toby Gaffney, 48, is from Darlington but relocated to Cockermouth after meeting his wife Erica at Keswick’s theatre where she was working during the season he played Phileas Fogg there in 2007.
Now Toby is playing a key figure in an emotional current storyline in the ITV1 soap opera in which he appears as barrister Elliot Newell, representing Leanne Battersby and Steve McDonald – played by Jane Danson and Simon Gregson.
There are six or seven powerful scenes involving Toby which took nine days to film in September and began being broadcast this week.
“I’ve done The Bill, Emmerdale, EastEnders and Heartbeat. I only need Hollyoaks and Casualty now and I’ll have the full set!” joked Toby, who has appeared in many TV programmes, as well as being a theatre actor, director and drama combat teacher.
His latest on-screen character is helping the established Corrie couple launch a court battlet to save the life of their son Oliver, who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease.
Toby’s agent Jane Hollowood alerted him to the role and he then made a tape to send to the production team, with daughter Mia operating the camera and wife Erica filling in for the other actors’ parts in a Covid-safe audition in his bedroom.
The soap opera producers only saw that tape before hiring him without any further auditions for the role.
Toby was able to prepare for the role by talking to his dad, who is a solicitor.
“To actually be on set was great. It’s in the studio and seeing pictures of people like Ena Sharples reminds you that the show is steeped in history. It does give you a buzz.
“You have your own dressing room and you had to wear face masks on set and there was someone with a specific job to stand there with a two-metre stick asking politely to step back.
The sets themselves are movable. They can take out the walls and the pictures can be taken down for the cameras to use the space,” said Toby, who did a three-year diploma in acting course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and who has since also qualified as a supply teacher.