When actor Johnny Briggs joined ITV’s famous soap Coronation Street in 1976 as the cockney ducker and diver Mike Baldwin, he only expected his contract to last a couple of months at the most. But he was to become one of the programme’s most popular characters and he stayed in the fictional town of Weatherfield for 30 years. While running the local underwear factory, the storylines concerning his affairs with Deirdre Barlow and runs-ins with her husband Ken became must-see TV.
Therefore, the recent announcement that Johnny Briggs’ had died at the age of 85 saddened millions of ‘Corrie’ fans. Following his funeral on 24 March, ITV has put together a special half hour documentary which is being shown tonight (Monday 29 March) at 8pm between episodes of Coronation Street.
Johnny Briggs was a keen skier and The Skier & Snowboarder magazine interviewed him for a My Perfect Day feature back in October 1997. Here, we repeat the original feature as part of our own tribute to the popular actor.
Where is your perfect place to ski?
Breckenridge – without a doubt. My wife Christine and I had an opportunity to go there in 1990 even though I had sworn I’d never ski again after a bad experience. I got the bug back again instantly. We’ve returned nearly every season since and stay in a condo. I would have liked to have remained loyal to the Alps, but we had a dreadful holiday in a shoe box somewhere in France. As soon as I set foot in Colorado, I knew there was no going back to Europe.
Who would you most like to be skiing with?
Bob Roses – the guy who teaches me in Breckenridge. He looks a bit like Father Christmas, all white hair, a beard, and smiles. I met him on the first trip we took over there and he is always great company. But if I had the chance to ski with anyone in the world, I think it might have to be Ursula Andress – as long as she was in that famous bikini she wore in the James Bond film Doctor No.
What is your idea of the perfect skiing terrain?
Any blue run that ends near a bar with a toilet.
What skis and boots do you prefer?
I bought the Salomon hire boots I used on my first ski trip to Austria because they were so comfortable and I still use them now. I always hire my skis in the resort because I can’t be bothered to carry them around. I don’t have any particular preference, just as long as they are short and easily manoeuvrable.
Where would you have lunch?
I have simple tastes and adore good unfussy American food. I always try to find a place with a barbecue and order a burger with all the trimmings. There is something magical about sitting on a restaurant terrace in the mountains. Food always tastes so much better outside.
Do you like a bit of après ski?
There’s a bar in Breckenridge near the top of Peak 9 where I like to get the chairlift up at the end of the day before it closes. I then have a drink or two and wait until the slopes are completely empty before I ski down. I once almost came a cropper when I stayed longer than I should have and came out into a blizzard. I thought ‘Gawd I’ve had it’ but I managed to make it down in one piece.
What would your après ski tipple be on your perfect day?
A beer. I’m particularly partial to Coors Light. Mind you, a Californian Chardonnay would slip down quite nicely as well.
Where would you have dinner on your perfect day?
A restaurant called The Hearthstone, just off Main Street. It’s got just the right balance between intimacy and atmosphere and they cook a great steak.
What skiing experience would you most like to repeat?
Taking my son Anthony to Breckenridge for the first time when he was 8 years old. We put him into ski school and within a week he was better than all of us. He’s a completely natural skier.
What experience would you least like to repeat?
The last day of a ski holiday in St Johann back in the late 1980s. There was hardly any snow and my instructor made me ski down a very icy run. I pulled a hamstring and it put me off the sport completely. I swore I’d never ski again.
What would you most like to achieve on your perfect day?
Not to break anything. I always say a prayer of thanks when I get back to the village at the end of the day unscathed.
Johnny Briggs was talking to David Allsop
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