ITV Corrie's Maria star Samia Longchambon shares private anxiety battle, bullying trauma and fears for her 2 children

Coronation Street’s Maria Windass is no stranger to heartache, but watching her son Liam develop suicidal feelings after being bullied has left her close to breaking point. Watching over her son day and night is also taking its toll on Maria’s own mental health, not to mention her relationship with husband Gary Windass.

Samia Longchambon, 41, who plays her, says, “Maria’s devastated by what Liam’s been through. Finding out he was being bullied was really tough, but then to realise it’s pushed him to think about ending his life has been absolutely crushing. As much as it’s had an impact on Liam’s mental health, it’s starting to impact her mental health too.”

Samia can relate to Maria’s heartache as her daughter Freya, 14, is the same age as her on-screen son. She also shares son Yves, eight, with husband Sylvain Longchambon, who she married in 2016.

“My daughter is the same age as Charlie Wrenshall, who plays Liam, so it’s not difficult to tap into those emotions,” says Samia. “If it was your child going through it, you’d move heaven and earth to make it all OK for them.”

Samia was also bullied at school and has battled anxiety since childhood. She hopes this storyline will show its devastating consequences. “To highlight bullying can only be a good thing,” says Samia. “Hopefully, the bullies themselves will watch and realise what they’re doing, and that it has a massive impact.”

Coronation Street star Samia is mum to daughter Freya and son Yves
Corrie's Samia Longchambon has suffered with anxiety since childhood

Samia and young Charlie have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from viewers – and she is proud
of the conversations the storyline has opened up.

“Charlie and I have had literally hundreds of messages from children and parents,” she says. “It’s been a really special storyline. If we’ve made a difference to even one child’s life through this, then we’ve done our job. There’s a lot of conversation happening off the back of the storyline.

"Even people from the offices and the crew at work have told me their kids are starting to talk about what’s going on with them. I’m pleased it’s had a good impact on children.”

Last week, viewers saw Maria set up cameras at home to keep a closer eye on Liam. It’s a desperate move, but after losing her ex-lover Aidan Connor (Shayne Ward) to suicide in 2018, Maria is determined to do all she can to protect her son.

Even though Liam’s tormentor Mason has now been jailed for knife crime, Maria knows those psychological scars run deep.

Samia's Coronation Street character Maria is married to Gary Windass (Mikey North)
Coronation Street star Samia is mum to daughter Freya and son Yves -Credit:Jonathan Hordle/REX/Shutterstock

“She’s so concerned,” says Samia. “Aidan killed himself and she was really close to him. For Liam to tell her he was thinking of ending his own life – it’s sent her into a spin and she’s terrified of leaving him on his own. Although Mason is now locked away, she feels Liam might still be having those thoughts, so that’s why she’s got the camera for when she’s at work. She’s just doing what she thinks is best to protect her son.”

However, the hidden cameras have unexpected consequences after they record Maria’s husband Gary (Mikey North) letting his ex Sarah Barlow (Tina O’Brien) cry on his shoulder.

“That’s another thing that’s being affected – her relationship with Gary. All the focus is on Liam and keeping him safe, so Maria and Gary’s relationship is a bit strained,” says Samia. “Because Sarah is his ex, Maria’s really hurt. It’s a bit of a wake-up call to her that she needs to focus on her and Gary as well.”

Samia Longchambon has played hairdresser Maria Windass since 2000
Samia's Coronation Street character Maria is married to Gary Windass (Mikey North) -Credit:ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Maria might not welcome Sarah hanging around, but as an actress, Samia is thrilled to share scenes with Tina, who plays her. “Tina and I grew up together at drama school, but we don’t get to do loads together, so it’s really nice,” she says.

Samia has played Maria since 2000, when she joined Coronation Street as a kennel maid who fell for Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall).

“I’ve spent my whole adult life here – I was only 17 when I joined,” smiles Samia, who also went to drama school with co-stars Alan, Jane Danson (Leanne Battersby), Andrew Whyment (Kirk Sutherland) and Ryan Thomas (formerly Jason Grimshaw).

“Corrie has been all our lives for a lot of us. I met Andy, who plays my brother Kirk, when we were six or seven. I still recall the first thing he said to me… ‘Hiya, I’m Andy, do you want a Frazzle?’ I always think of Andy when I buy Frazzles! And my best friend is Jane Danson, who I’ve known since I was 11 or 12.”

Samia with her husband Sylvain Longchambon and children Freya  and Yves
Samia Longchambon has played hairdresser Maria Windass since 2000 -Credit:Getty Images

Samia has been at the heart of Coronation Street for 24 years, but that still makes her a youngster compared to vintage stars such as Bill Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since the soap started in 1960, and Sue Nicholls, who joined as Audrey Roberts in 1979.

Will Samia be on the cobbles for the long haul, too? “I don’t have a plan, I take it as it comes,” says Samia. “But right now, I’m really happy.”