Corrie Frankie Baldwin star now – royal link, Bradley Walsh affair accusation

Danny Baldwin made waves in Coronation Street when The Chase star Bradley Walsh opted to join Soapland.

The Underworld tycoon also brought with him wife Frankie, played by Debra Stephenson – who definitely held her own in terms of storylines.

From her affair with Danny to working at Roy’s Rolls, Frankie was at the forefront of Weatherfield life as Danny became engaged in a range of affairs – including one with Leanne Battersby which ended their relationship for good.

Frankie eventually began an illicit romance with her step-son Jamie, before fleeing off-screen to Romania in 2009 with her footballer husband.

Though she was only in the soap for two years from 2004 to 2006, Frankie made an indelible impression on the cobbles – but where is actress Debra Stephenson now? We take a little look…

Impressionist fame

Originally known as a comedian, Debra has made her name as a famous impressionist away from her acting career.

She’s been in everything from The Impressions Show with Jon Culshaw to Dead Ringers and Newzoids – and starred as a team captain on The Imitation Game.

Debra also achieved fame starring as Shell Dockley in Bad Girls, along with acting as a news reporter for GMTV back in 2007 for The Richard Arnold Show.

In 2011, Debra danced the American Smooth with professional partner Ian Waite for the Christmas special of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing – and revealed that she wants to do a full series if she gets the chance.

Affair accusations

Frankie’s love life on the cobbles might have been full of drama, but thankfully Debra’s is a little more down to earth.

She married builder James Duffield back in June 1999, and they share two children together – Max and Zoe.

Speaking of their marriage, Debra said back in 2006: “We have been together for 14 years and married for seven. We have got a little boy together and another one on the way, but I guess you know that already. My husband is the love of my life.”

However, she and co-star Bradley Walsh were forced to deny that they were having an affair when reports emerged about their romance back in the day.

In separate statements, both actors refuted the allegations, with Bradley stating: “I have read the newspaper reports, watched and heard people on television and radio talking about my life and now feel very strongly that I should be able to have my say.

"This has all been blown completely out of proportion.

"Debra Stephenson and I are nothing more than friends and have a close working relationship – we certainly have not had an affair.

"I am not in any crisis talks with my wife. I love Donna deeply, she is my life and the most important thing in it and I would do nothing to harm or hurt her."

Debra added: “I did not have an affair or a fling. I love Bradley Walsh as a friend and nothing more. James is the love of my life and we are solid.”

Shortly after, both stars quit the soap for good.

Royal link

Debra has plenty of connections in high places – and one of them to the highest law in the land: The Queen.

In December 2020, the monarch appeared to dance with joy as confetti streamed from the ceiling – as she slammed the BBC.

Of course, it wasn’t actually the Queen at all, but a deepfake version on Channel 4 with Debra behind the CGI mask.

The broadcast saw her gush: “On the BBC, I haven’t always been able speak plainly and from the heart.

“So, I am grateful to Channel 4 for giving me the opportunity to say whatever I like, without anyone putting words in my mouth.”

The artificially rendered version of the Queen was created by visual effects studio Framestore – and included jibes aimed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

However, the programme came under fire on social media, with some viewers furious that Cannel 4 had “crossed the line”.

One user said: “This is in very poor taste and is both offensive and disrespectful: you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves!”

As someone else echoed: “Parody is one thing, but this is crossing the line."

Stealing Katie Price’s boobs

Appearing on Steph’s Packed Lunch, Debra couldn’t resist the cheeky confession that she once stole ‘Katie Price’s boobs’.

Speaking to host Steph McGovern and TV chef John Whaite, the impressionist – who has mimicked Katie Price on a few occasions – said: “I took Katie Price’s boobs…

“It was a costume and they were the latex boobs that went into the costume and I thought they would be handy as a fancy dress and I haven't got rid of them because I didn't know how to throw them away. I mean, how do I recycle latex boobs?”

Strictly’s John chimed in: “You should recycle them by giving them to a young aspiring drag queen – they're expensive, breastplates.”

Debra couldn’t resist a cheeky Katie Price impression as she joked: “I’ve recycled these a few times anyways!”

Tragic loss

The Covid-19 pandemic affected all of us – whether famous or not – and Debra was no exception.

In 2020 she sadly lost her granddad from the virus, and was left unable to see her parents due to the restrictions in place.

Speaking to HullLive in July that year, she said: “I lost my grandad through Covid-19. He had gone into hospital for something else, and that was a very, very low point for us.

“I haven’t seen mum and dad since Christmas. It’s knowing when it feels safe to go – I’m still not sure exactly who can see who in these bubbles, and things are only just beginning to lift a bit.”

She added: “My parents are both in good health, thankfully, but let’s say they are both post-65. We talk on the phone all the time, the old-fashioned way.”

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on ITV at 8pm

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