The fresh-faced looks are familiar, and the name will soon be everywhere. Phoebe Dynevor is following in her famous mother’s footsteps.
It’s easy to spot that Phoebe Dynevor is related to a certain Coronation Street star. The young actress is the image of her mother Sally, with the same sing-song voice and polite but open manner.
“My mum and dad taught me to respect everyone and to be kind,” says Phoebe, acknowledging the family likeness. “I’ve learned that from Mum quite a bit. She’d never say a bad word about anyone or anything – I love that about her.”
We’re meeting on the set of The Village, the BBC1 BAFTA-winning drama that’s about to start its second series, with 19-year-old Phoebe as one of the newest members of the cast. She will be joining such acting luminaries as Maxine Peake, Juliet Stevenson and John Simm.
And for all her composure and confidence, when she starts chatting about her co-stars, you’re reminded that she’s still a teenager.
“I’ve always been in awe of Maxine,” she says. “I think she’s brilliant – and I haven’t met Juliet yet but I love her. I remember watching Bend It Like Beckham and thinking, ‘She’s great!’”
Lest we forget, it wasn’t so long ago that Phoebe was sitting her A levels. Throughout our chat, she constantly claims that she’s not that clever – despite getting a very respectable A and two Bs.
“To be honest, when I was younger, I went to schools that made me aware I wasn’t the brightest,” she confides. “But I worked very hard at my A levels and I was very proud of the results.”
While her academic achievements may have been hard-won, Phoebe is making great strides in her chosen career. She has already starred in two major BBC series (Waterloo Road and Prisoners’ Wives), and with a new romantic role in the second series of The Village, she’s bound to get even more recognition.
She plays Phoebe Rundle, a girl in (unrequited) love with the now grown-up Bert Middleton, and it sounds as if the part was tailor-made for her. “It was all really quick,” she says. “I went for the audition and wondered whether I would get a recall. Then they phoned to tell me I’d got the part. I wanted to say, ‘Are you sure?’
“It’s really exciting,” she adds. “I’ve always wanted to do a period drama – I love the costumes and the make-up. It’s the number one thing for me.” And when she says always, she’s not exaggerating.
Phoebe grew up in Cheshire, alongside her younger brother Sam, 17, and sister Hatty, 10. Even when she was tiny, it seems she couldn’t wait to perform. “I’ve always been a show-off. Whenever my grandparents came to visit, even when I was very little, I’d start jumping around – but only when people were watching. There are loads of videos of me leaping about. My sister is similar, doing little dances for everyone – she’s got it in her to perform too.”
Phoebe enjoyed quite a showbiz childhood, in a low-key way, with regular visits to the Street set. “I loved that,” she says. “I was always really interested in what was going on, watching the cameramen and stuff.”
Mum Sally has been treading the cobbles for 28 years now, but the Dynevor dynasty began long before she landed the part of Sally Webster. Phoebe’s dad Tim, a writer for Emmerdale, comes from a family with acting in its bones. “My grandmother Shelley was an actress and would tell me about working in the theatre, while my grandpa on Dad’s side, Gerard Dynevor, was a big influence in theatre and a TV director,” Phoebe says. “It’s exciting to be a part of that.”
In fact, Gerard directed a couple of episodes of Coronation Street in the 1960s. So seeing that soap stardom is very much a family affair, would Phoebe ever consider joining Coronation Street herself?
“Never say never,” she smiles. “But I am enjoying what I am doing now.”
Sally has always been hugely supportive of her daughter and while some cynics may claim that Phoebe’s showbiz success is down to good connections, when she got her first job on Waterloo Road, Mum was quick to point out that Phoebe had done so on her own merit. Phoebe cites her parents as her biggest inspiration and it’s clear that they share a strong bond.
But the family has been through a tough few years since 2009, when Sally discovered she had breast cancer. “It was an awful time,” Phoebe recalls. “It taught me not to take life for granted – and as a teenager, that’s a hard lesson. My mum is everything in my life, so it was very difficult. I think we believed deep down that she was going to be OK and we were going to get through it, but it affected me a lot.”
Thankfully, Sally has made a full recovery and the family are looking to the future. So what does Phoebe see in store? With talk of wanting to “see the world”, she clearly has a passion for travel. “Last year my boyfriend and I went around Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. It was amazing. He’s half Thai,” she says of Simon Merrill, a recruitment executive. “And we went to his family’s village. His grandma, aunt and uncle are still there, and it was a really incredible experience.”
And what else is on her wish list? “I’d like to be a little bit more articulate,” she admits. “I long for my dad’s intellect because I want to write, and it may come as time goes by. I’ve watched him work on Emmerdale and I’ve wanted to help in any way I could. But I love working on The Village. Every night I get home and I just go on and on about it. I’m very lucky.”
© Francine Cohen