Corrie’s Katie McGlynn needed counselling after harrowing on-screen cancer death

Actress Katie McGlynn reveals she had to go for counselling because she was so badly affected by filming the harrowing death of young mum Sinead Tinker in Corrie.

The 26-year-old star, who moved viewers to tears in her final episode on Friday night, tells the Sunday Mirror she couldn’t stop crying and felt she was mourning an actual friend after watching the distressing scenes.

“It was like the storyline got embedded in my head – I couldn’t stop thinking about it and crying,” says Katie, 26, who who wore Sinead’s pyjamas while watching the show, a month after filming ended.

Her grief was so bad that she even imagined seeing her character in the Street and hearing her voice.

Eventually she had sessions with a mental health specialist to help her come to terms with Sinead’s tragic cervical cancer battle.

Millions watched her character’s emotional final moments in the arms of her husband Daniel, played by Rob Mallard, on Friday night.

But the build-up to her death had been equally as heartrending.

Katie says: “I was sitting on my sofa watching the programme in which Sinead is told she has weeks to live, and I started to cry.

“The next day I just kept crying. I couldn’t stop. I ended up going to see a counsellor who told me that I was mourning Sinead.

“A month later I still feel like I’m really mourning her. It feels like waves of sadness coming over me.

"One minute I’ll be all right, then the next I’m in tears. It might sound weird, but to me Sinead has always been real.

Katie added: “Sometimes I hear her voice and I have mistakenly thought I have caught a glimpse of her face in a crowd of people.

“When I look in the mirror a piece of Sinead looks back at me.”

Katie tells how she felt she was coping well during the actual filming but first broke down just days after leaving the Street.

“I was so confused about what was wrong with me,” she says.

“There was no reason for me to be so upset. I hadn’t been drinking, I wasn’t hungover and I knew it wasn’t hormonal.

“But I got the role aged 19 and Sinead had become like a friend to me.

"Throughout my adult life. She’s been inside of my head for seven years and my whole life was wrapped around her.

“I used to put on Sinead’s crazy shoes, and I would become her. I have grown up with her and I’m sad now she’s gone.

“I’m not the type to cry normally. I’m not heartless but my friends have joked in the past that I had a heart of stone because I don’t cry about much.

“I put it down to growing up in a Northern household where you’d get the mickey taken out of you if you cry over a sad film or whatever.

“But I suddenly felt very vulnerable. It came as a shock and I thought, ‘I’d better do something about this’.”

A friend gave her the name of a counsellor and she has since had three weekly sessions.

“The first time we just talked about why I was so upset, while the second meeting was about getting to the crux of the problem,” she says.

“I told her I couldn’t understand what was up.

The counsellor told me, ‘Katie, you are grieving for Sinead’.

“I hadn’t realised what was happening at the time but it made sense when she said it.

"She said I’d got so good at differentiating myself from Sinead that she had become like a friend to me.

“In my third session, we talked about ways that I could improve the way I felt by looking after myself, going to the gym more and taking long walks.

"I told my friends and family how I wasn’t feeling myself, although I think they knew because I kept crying for no reason.

“My mum Ruth lives a few miles away in Manchester and I was so busy with interviews about leaving Coronation Street that I couldn’t get to see her so she was worried. She kept phoning to check in on me.”

Katie’s counsellor has suggested she write a farewell letter to Sinead or take a few days away to help her “process” the loss.

But she admits some of her upset could be connected to leaving her “Coronation Street family” after six years.

“We’re all really close,” she says. “But I’m going to miss everyone. It’s such a life change.”

While she says she is starting to feel better, she reveals she is still hit by “waves of grief” which leave her crying again.

The role has also had an effect on her physical health.

She says she piled on a stone eating junk food and takeaways because she became so emotionally entrenched in Sinead.

“The emotion involved in Sinead dying meant I was just grabbing food and not really thinking about good nutrition,” she says.

“I was so tired when I got home that I’d order a takeaway. On set, there were a lot of chocolates, flap jacks and treats flying around.”

Coronation Street bosses offered Katie counselling while she was playing Sinead but she says it was only after leaving that she felt the toll of the demanding role.

“While I was playing Sinead, I was just so immersed I didn’t have time to focus on anything else,” she says.

“It was upsetting at times, of course, but I didn’t think it was having any effect on me.”

She says the most devastating scenes showed Sinead recording a final goodbye message to baby son Bertie.

“The tears I shed then were real. I put myself into the storyline as much as I could and it just felt so real.

“I just imagined I really was Sinead and thought about how she would really feel. I did that a lot with the role and I think that’s why it impacted me so much.”

She also reveals that soap co-stars Rob Mallard and Lisa George, who plays her aunt Beth, were also tearful during the last days of filming.

“We are really close friends and I think it was quite upsetting for them because it was not just Sinead’s last days but I was leaving too,” says Katie.

“The last few weeks were weird because every time we went into Sinead’s room there was an eerie atmosphere and everyone in the cast and crew would go quiet or tearful. It was like someone was actually dying.”

She tells how when she left she took a few of Sinead’s costumes home when she left the Street, saying: “Her pyjamas are special to me. I feel close to her when I wear them.”

It was Katie who suggested to Corrie producers that her character was killed off because a lot of shows cover cancer but very few take it to the death.

She says she has had little personal experience of cancer herself but hopes Sinead’s plight will restore the “Jade Goody effect”, which saw a huge surge in the number of young women going for smear tests after the diagnosis and death of the reality TV star.

Katie’s storyline has seen women take to social media calling for the cervical cancer screening age to be lowered below the age of 25.

She says: “I’ve had emails from young women thanking me because they were too scared to get a smear until they watched Sinead’s battle. Some have had treatment for irregular cells and are thankful they went.

“Nurses have also sent me messages saying they have seen an increase in smear tests. It makes me so proud.”

Meanwhile, she is backing the Sunday Mirror’s mental health campaign Time to Change, to end discrimination against those suffering.

“This is my first experience of mental health issues and it’s not been pleasant,” she says.

“My advice to anyone having problems is to get help as soon as you can.”

Now Katie is looking forward to some light relief – she is to play Tinker Bell in Peter Pan at Northwich Memorial Court this Christmas.

“I love drama, but my first love was comedy,” she says.

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