What’s next for troubled Corrie star Michael Le Vell?


As Michael Le Vell hits the headlines yet again, and after spending a day in court during his trial, I take a nostalgic look back at his time on Coronation Street as Kevin Webster, and forward to what the coming year has in store for him…

Michael Le Vell court case

Growing up in the 80’s, when we had only 4 channels on TV to choose from and plastic Jellybean shoes were supposedly cool, I have fond memories of sitting down with my Mum to watch Coronation Street of an evening.

Snuggled on the sofa we would debate the story line and we each had our favourite character – I was always torn between Bet Lynch and her amazing earrings and Kevin Webster, the friendly and *hunky mechanic. *I was 10 at the time, cut me some slack eh.


Kevin Webster

Around the same time, and unbeknown to me, Michael was becoming well known as a gay icon, allegedly receiving sacks of fan mail on a daily basis. This all came to an end with the departure of his infamous facial hair, although he still remained popular with the ladies and was a permanent feature of The Street.

Off screen Michael married his co-star, Janette Beverley in 1986, they went on to have two children and spent 25 years together before separating in 2011.

This was also the year things started to go wrong for Michael in a very public way, he faced allegations of 19 sexual offences and, although the Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charges due to “insufficient evidence” the stress clearly took its toll.

Friends of Michael say that this was when he started to drink heavily, often “propping up the bar” in the local pub near his home in Hale, though he did remain a popular character on the much loved soap.


Michael and his family

In 2013 the Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed the decision made previously in relation to the allegations and authorized Greater Manchester Police to charge Michael with all 19 offences once again.

ITV reacted by writing Kevin Webster out of the storyline with the promise of his return – once proceedings against Michael had finished.

Held at Manchester Crown Court, the case attracted media attention on a massive scale. Every day Michael arrived at the hearing to be greeted by numerous flashing cameras and eager press looking for an exclusive quote or statement.

Michael appeared stressed during the trial

Michael appeared stressed during the trial

Supported by friends he looked like a rabbit caught in headlights; it would be foolish to think that the stress of such a high profile case didn’t affect him in a big way, despite him being eventually found not guilty on all charges.

Leaving court on the day of the verdict, a relieved Michael said he was taking some time out – possibly somewhere abroad, and that he would be back on the cobbles soon, much to the delight of his many supporters.

After a break of six months Michael made his return as Kevin in an explosive storyline that saw him getting into fisticuffs with the neighbours as he arrived with his suitcase in hand. Then he was gone again…

Here is the infamous scene…:)

New scandal now surrounds Michael and his personal life, he’s admitted to using Cocaine during the trial, at what he says was his “lowest ebb” and Corrie bosses have given him just three months to turn his life around or risk being written out permanently.

As if this wasn’t enough for the shame-faced star, his ex-girlfriend, Blanca, has added her own fuel to the fire by alleging that Michael “enticed her into having sex with him and another man after he had drunk 12 pints and snorted Cocaine.”

Now, while I am not defending him in any way, I would question why this story has surfaced now, and if it is actually humanly possible to entice anyone to do anything after allegedly consuming so much alcohol then topping it off with some class A drugs?

At the end of the day Michael is a guy who is having a tough time and it would be nice to see him get the space and privacy he needs to get back on track.

Who hasn't made mistakes?

Who hasn’t made mistakes?

Who hasn’t got drunk and made a bad decision or done something they really would rather people didn’t know. He was found innocent of any wrongdoing in a court of law and the rest is little more than tickle tackle.

I reckon the future for Michael is bright, although I’m not sure the same can be said for Kevin, after all, the Corrie scriptwriters are known for their bumpy storylines, who knows what they have in store for his return this time around.

There is speculation that Michael is currently in rehab although this has, so far, been unconfirmed. A friend of the star said: “Michael knows he has to sort his life out and is determined to do that. Coronation Street bosses have been incredibly supportive. They know Mike went through hell with his trial and that the stress has led to problems in his personal life, which have to be resolved. All anyone wants on the show is Mike back, in good health.”

Michael looking relaxed

Michael looking relaxed

Wherever Michael may be at the moment I hope that he is getting the support he so obviously needs and deserves. People are quick to remember the negatives and forget the positive – in my opinion he is not a bad person, as certain media sources would have you believe, more a good person that has made some bad decisions. Only time will tell if he can bounce back again but I really do believe he will.


Michael may have made mistakes and, in hindsight, that moustache was a bit too YMCA, even for the 80’s, but at the end of the day he’s a Manchester bloke that will be remembered long after the Rovers has served its last Hot Pot.


This article first appeared as an exclusive in the April edition of Within Magazine…

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18 years on…

The ear-splitting explosion came first, seconds before the shattered glass began to rain down on terrified shoppers on the busy city streets. The sound of fire engines racing across the devastated streets entwined with the screech of burglar alarms as they wailed in protest; a noise that would continue for days, long after the dust had settled and the cleanup had begun.



It was a Saturday in June 1996, the day before Fathers Day and Manchester was buzzing. Thousands had taken to the streets to enjoy the sunshine; many were looking forward to the match that afternoon, when England would play Scotland at Wembley, in the Euro 96 football championship.

 Manchester was hosting games in another group and the mood was both cheerful and upbeat. As a gesture of friendship to visiting fans, the Manchester Evening News had placed billboards saying ‘Welcome to Manchester’ in four different languages and the city was alive with people from all over the world.

 Unbeknown to them, IRA bombers had parked a Ford box van containing 3,300 lbs of home made explosives on Corporation Street, outside Marks and Spencer, on double yellow lines, hazard lights flashing.

Within a few minutes an unsuspecting traffic warden slapped a ticket on the windscreen as the driver and his passenger walked away towards Cateaton Street, hoods up and sunglasses on.

 A phone call was then made from the Piccadilly area to an IRA member in Ireland – giving a signal that everything was in place. The two men then left the city in a burgundy Ford Granada, later abandoned in Preston.

Just before 10am, a call was received at Granada Television; it was from the IRA who warned them of the bomb in a coded message. Special Branch confirmed this was a genuine threat and minutes later the evacuation of 80,000 people from the city centre kicked into action.

 By 11.10am the police cordon was a quarter of a mile around the van – the amazing effort to clear the streets would mean that no one would die from the bomb, the biggest seen in peacetime mainland Britain.

The Army’s bomb squad arrived from Liverpool, sending in a robot to break through the van’s window in an attempt to locate and destroy the timer on the passenger seat –instead it triggered the explosion.

They were just seconds from making the bomb safe.

Here is a video of the robot approaching the van and the huge explosion that followed –

Barely a window survived in a half-mile radius of the blast and buildings a mile away were damaged.


Explosion caught on cctv

A crater measuring 15ft-wide was left where the van had been parked and Greater Manchester’s hospitals were flooded with casualties. Marks and Spencer, being closest to the bomb, was destroyed beyond repair and other notable buildings were badly damaged too. It was the day Manchester was to change forever.

The damage was extreme and far-reaching. Longridge House, home to Royal Insurance was to be demolished and the Arndale bus station, underneath the shopping centre, would never open again.

The Corn Exchange was totally wrecked and although the Royal Exchange Theatre looked like it had escaped the worst, it was later discovered that the bomb had literally raised the roof, putting it back down almost 2inches askew.

The Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange

The police investigation was headed by Detective Superintendent Bernard Rees and based at Longsight station and they liaised with the head of Special Branch in Manchester. The inquiry was called Operation Cannon, after Cannon Street – close to where the van had parked that terrible day.

With the incident room in full swing, priority was given to tracing the Ford Cargo’s history.

 The registration plate was A214 ACL and, according to the Police National Computer, the van belonged to a man down south, who then told police he’d sold it to a dealer, Arthur Loveridge, who lived in Peterborough.

Detectives went to investigate while others checked motorway traffic cameras, in an attempt to pick up the van’s journey into Manchester.

 They discovered it was driven to London the day before the bomb and had been picked up by camera on the M1. This link with the capital would become significant as the investigation progressed. That same evening the van had headed north, accompanied by the Ford Granada that was used as the getaway vehicle.

 After an appeal for information and some detective work, police discovered telephone traffic between the home of a prime suspect in Ulster and a telephone on the mainland around the time of the bomb, while another call was placed to an IRA ‘quartermaster’ from Manchester just three minutes after the van holding the bomb was parked on June 15.

 Police built up a picture of events that day, as well as confirming the prime suspects.

So why weren’t they arrested?

CPS said they did not believe there was a realistic chance of securing a conviction on the evidence available and, that if the suspect was charged his defence would point out the fact he had been to Manchester after the bomb and, despite the fact that police knew he was in the city, they let him go.

In fact, the only people ever arrested in connection with the bomb were Steve Panter, crime reporter at the MEN who named the suspect, and DCI Gordon Mutch, a senior police officer who faced a harrowing ordeal, accused of leaking confidential information to Steve.

Make of that what you will…


Police arrested journalist Steve Panter

Steve said that during the summer of 1998 he received a series of anonymous phone calls from a knowledgeable source, offering information about the Manchester bomb. He says that the police had identified suspects in the bombing of ’96 and were not going to arrest any of them for questioning. There was suspicion amongst some of the police connected to the inquiry that politics were involved, and the decision to lock away the investigation file stamped “No Action” was partly to prevent upsetting Northern Ireland, where the plans to get the peace process were finally back on track.

After the bomb Manchester was dramatically rejuvenated in a citywide renaissance that today generates millions of pounds in revenue.

The modern day skyline is very different than before. From the glass icon that is Urbis to the breathtaking Beetham Tower, the flair and passion put into the redesign are clear to see. Ian Simpson is a Manchester lad, and architect – it’s him we have to thank for many of the buildings we see in our contemporary city.



No doubt pressure was added to the post-bomb development, the Trafford Centre was due to open in 1998 – at a cost of £600 million. The new design had to be modern, and break down the barriers that existed between the wealthy centre and the ‘poor’ areas to the North.

Market Street was where these two worlds merged but there was still the physical barrier of buildings to overcome.

The Printworks as it is today

The Printworks

Pre-bomb, The Printworks, then Maxwell House, was empty and abandoned, Urbis was just a car park and there was nothing but wasteland around the Cathedral.

Manchester city centre today is a thriving, cosmopolitan place to be – full of energy, excitement and pride. In 1995 just 300 people lived in the city, today that figure is over 20,000 and growing.

Some people say that without the bomb Manchester could have suffered the same fate as Sheffield, whose city centre was hit by the challenge of out-of-town shopping malls.

Others disagree with this, pointing out that Leeds and other areas have regenerated perfectly well without a bomb ever being involved.

I’m sure the people caught there that day won’t ever see it as a positive event at all. For me it was a very dark day in my home city, but also one that helped to focus minds on how Manchester could be improved; a tragic catalyst that sparked long overdue change.

 Down but never out indeed…..

This article was originally written for Within Magazine, where it appears as the cover story in the June edition.

Within Magazine - June edition

Within Magazine – June edition

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