FANS now stop her in the street and tease: “You’ve been a naughty girl, haven’t you!”
That is what Coronation Street starlet Millie Gibson gets for playing druggie teen Kelly Neelan — who recently landed up home-less after leaving prison.
But Millie, 17, is revelling in the challenge of portraying a life so far removed from her own happy family upbringing.
She told HOAR on Sunday: “Kelly’s life is very different to mine. I have a really nice family. I’ve had a great upbringing.
“I’m very close to my cousin Amy, who is 23, so if I’ve got a problem I’d go to her. Kelly doesn’t even have that. I’d really struggle in her shoes.
“I don’t think I’m as strong as Kelly and I do admire how she gets through without any family to help her. Her dad isn’t around and she had an awful relationship with her mum. I feel sorry for her.
“Your mum is supposed to be someone who is always there for you.”
But despite having more than 75,000 Instagram followers, Millie still cannot get used to all the attention when she is out and about.
She said: “I don’t consider myself famous — I’m not Brad Pitt — so if I see someone giving me a look in the street, I’ll think, ‘Oh God, have I just flashed, or have I got something on my face?’
“Sometimes people speak to me and there are fans who find it difficult to differentiate fiction and reality.
“They’ll go, ‘You’ve been a naughty girl, haven’t you?’ I’ll say, ‘I know, but I’m not that bad in real life!’
“But 90 per cent of the time everyone is really lovely.”
Meanwhile Cobbles wildchild Kelly lurches from one crisis to another. Although shopkeeper Dev Alahan recently gave the homeless teen a temporary place to stay, he will kick her out next week after finding she has been taking drugs again.
‘Little sideways look’
Millie has worked hard to convey the harrowing story accurately. She said: “I have no experience of these situations so I asked Corrie if someone could explain to me how you act when you’ve taken the drug spice, and I spoke to someone from an addiction centre.”
After hearing how thousands of women have no choice but to sleep on the streets this winter, Millie also spoke to many who are enduring the same tough situation as her screen character Kelly.
She was shocked by the tragic tales she listened to. Millie said: “For the homeless storyline I worked with Shelter and The Children’s Society, and they told me some personal stories of what women go through on the streets.
“It was really eye-opening and it’s heartbreaking, especially at this time of year.”
Millie’s own life is a world away from all of this. She lives at the family home in Cheshire with her parents — dad Paul runs forest eco-schools and children’s activity camps, while her mum Paula is a business adviser. She has two grown-up half-brothers — Morgan, 24, and Ryan, 33.
But while Millie insists she is nothing like Weatherfield’s Kelly — who leaked naked pictures of Asha Alahan online — her parents do notice the occasional similarity.
She said: “When Kelly pulls a face or is sarcastic, or gives a little side-ways look at someone, my mum and dad see a bit of me in her. They’ll go, ‘Oh God, we know that look!’ ”
But while there is more trouble on the horizon for Kelly in the New Year when her neglectful mum Laura turns up again, Millie’s own future looks a whole lot brighter.
She said: “My New Year’s resolution is to pass my driving test. Owning my own apartment in Manchester is a dream in the future too, but for now I’m more than happy at home.” It all began for Millie when she started acting at six, after her mum took her to a local theatre group. She said: “I was quite shy and she wanted me to get to know other people and come out of my shell a bit.”
At 11, she was spotted by a talent agent at the Oldham Theatre Work-shop and within a year she had landed the part of Indira Cave in the BBC children’s TV series Jamie Johnson.
In 2018 Millie appeared in the ITV mini-series Butterfly and she made her first appearance in Weatherfield in 2019, as the daughter of murdered loan shark Rick Neelan.
Since then viewers have seen her wrongfully jailed for the murder of Seb Franklin, her suicide bid and, after her release from jail, being shunned by most of Weatherfield for her part in the gang attack on Seb and his girlfriend Nina.
But Millie said: “I was over the moon when I got the part. It’s one of the biggest soap in the country and I felt so honoured to be chosen. I remember on my first day, David Neilson walked in, and I went, ‘Oh my God, it’s Roy (Cropper) !’
“For the first month or so in my head I was still calling everyone by their character names. So I’d be saying to myself, ‘Oh gosh, there’s Rita!’ I was nervous, but everyone was super-friendly, and it soon felt like I’d been there for years.”