WHEN Corrie favourite Alina Pop began a fling with Tyrone Dobbs it spelt trouble on and off screen.
Her romance with the mechanic, the storyline gripping the hit ITV1 soap, could mean the end for one of Coronation Street’s strongest couples and leave Fiz Stape devastated.
Today in an exclusive interview, Romanian-born Ruxandra Porojnicu, 27, who plays Alina, tells how she has been branded a homewrecker and told “to go back to her own country” by a vile minority of the show’s fans.
She also reveals how Corrie used a real-life couple as kissing doubles due to Covid restrictions and how she is “learning Manc” from her cast members.
Ruxandra told The Sun on Sunday: “Fiz and Tyrone are such an amazing and iconic couple, so when I found out what was planned I was surprised.
“And my first thought was, everyone is going to hate me.
“I was very excited about the storyline and thought what a great opportunity it would be to work with two brilliant actors. But as a viewer I was gutted, because I really love Fiz and Tyrone together. I was really torn about it all.
“The way the storyline has gone I’ve found the reactions to be quite mixed, which I was not expecting. The way it has been written created a good environment for Alina to be accepted by the audience. Well, some of them.
“They’ve seen their romance blossom and neither meant for it to happen. I’ve had loads of people saying that they are actually happy for Tyrone.
‘I STILL PINCH MYSELF’
“But I’ve also had people saying, ‘Go back to your own country’, and calling me a homewrecker. I don’t take those comments seriously.”
Ruxandra arrived on the famous cobbles two years ago for the soap’s hard-hitting modern slavery storyline that showed Alina being forced to work in a nail bar after being trafficked.
Show bosses were so impressed with her they signed her up as a regular.
Now she is at the heart of a classic Corrie love triangle with Tyrone and Fiz, played by Alan Halsall, 38, and Jennie McAlpine, 37.
Ruxandra said: “I feel so privileged to have been given such a big storyline. I also feel proud to be representing my country. I’ve had a lot of people say how good it is Corrie is showing diversity with my character and it’s important for television to show that.
“I spent the first lockdown watching some of the old-school Corrie episodes and now I understand the show has always been about all these amazing, strong women.
What a great opportunity to work with two brilliant actors . . . but as a viewer I was gutted, because I really love Fiz and Tyrone together
“I still pinch myself to be just this small part of it all, it really has been a whirlwind. I’ve been so lucky.”
So has she been teaching her castmates Romanian? Ruxandra said: “No, but I’ve been asking them to teach me Mancunian phrases.
“They’ve all been helping me to learn new ones. I’ve been saying things like ‘let’s have some scran’, which I love.”
Ruxandra has not been home to see her family since the end of 2019 after making the decision to stay in London at the start of the first lockdown.
She said: “My family are healthy and well, which is all that matters.
“We stay in touch over FaceTime and I’m always sending them clips of what Alina is up to, which they love. We don’t have Corrie in Romania, sadly, but I keep them updated with what’s going on.”
The storyline hots up this week as Tyrone tells Fiz that he is in love with Alina. Ruxandra said: “Alina really likes Tyrone. He makes her laugh and she feels protected when she’s around him. He’s a man, not a boy.
“Everyone will have to wait and see if they do end up together. It’s going to be a real challenge for them.
“They are at completely different stages of life and relationship experience. She’s very inexperienced and he’s a family man. He has kids and a partner.
“It’s scary for Alina but because of what she went through with the human trafficking, she’s mature.
“I think everyone will see her grow so much with Tyrone, and I’d like to see their relationship develop. She’s not the type to go from one man to another. I think she needs stability and he needs stability as well. There will be times when she’s overwhelmed but I would definitely like them to make it. I’m excited.”
To adhere to Covid rules, Corrie used a real-life couple as kissing doubles.
‘WE CAN’T HOLD HANDS’
And when Tyrone and Alina were shown next to each other on a bench, in reality the actors didn’t get within two metres. Instead, each filmed their part of the conversation separately before it was edited together into one seamless scene.
Ruxandra said: “There have been times where I’ve felt the story was missing an intimacy because we can’t do things like hold hands or touch each other’s faces. It’s crucial to show those kinds of gestures, so to film it in the way that they did was just incredible.
KISSING doubles were used so the affair scenes could meet Covid regulations.
The standby, real-life couple were drafted in to add intimacy to the snogging, which will be seen in the coming weeks.
When the characters were next to each other on a bench, actors Ruxandra and Alan actually didn’t get within two metres of each other. They filmed their parts separately before it was all edited together.
Ruxandra said: “I love that we managed to film a kissing scene given all the restrictions in place.
“I was so nervous because I didn’t know how it was going to work and I couldn’t look into Alan’s eyes, which made it harder.”
“I didn’t know how it was going to work. But they did such a brilliant job.”
This week there is more drama when an immigration enforcement team turns up at Alina’s flat after receiving a tip-off about tax evasion.
Tyrone accuses Fiz, thinking she’s done it out of revenge, but she is innocent.
Fiz is heartbroken that Tyrone could think she would be so spiteful.
But he tells her he loves Alina and moves out.
To keep her mind off the gritty storylines Ruxandra signed up for the London Marathon and raised money for the Salvation Army after working with them during the slavery storyline.
She ran the 26.2 miles at her local park after the event was cancelled due to Covid.
Ruxandra said: “It’s was hard running on my own but I knew I had to do it. Like a lot of charities The Salvation Army is having such a hard time, such a financially difficult situation.
“That was one of the reasons I knew I had to run, to raise money and help them in this little way that I can. They keep going and helping people.
“In Romania the situation is worse now. There will be more people coming to the UK and the chances of them being exploited will be even bigger. I just wanted to do my bit to help.”
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