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They celebrated their one-year anniversary together in April, but for actors Alan Halsall and Tisha Merry, their relationship was a long time coming as the pair enjoyed a lengthy friendship before striking up a romance.
The couple first met on the set of Coronation Street, where Alan has played Tyrone Dobbs since 1998 and Tisha played Steph Britton until late last year.
“We were good friends for about nine months before anything happened between us,” Tisha, 27, says as the pair open up for their first ever joint interview.
“Everyone assumed something was going on,” Alan, 37, adds. “I’d go to my mum’s house and she’d say, ‘Anything happening yet?’”
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Nine months later, Alan and Tisha decided to give things a go over a bottle of wine and a game of Scrabble, and they’ve gone from strength to strength since – with Tisha moving into Alan’s six-bedroom Manchester home late last year.
Focusing on what makes their relationship work, Alan – who shares six-year-old daughter Sienna with ex-wife Lucy-Jo Hudson – says, “When we’re together, it’s always fun. The fun in our relationship is great.”
“I’ve said this to you, and you’ve also said you couldn’t have spent lockdown with anyone but me,” Tisha adds.
Looking ahead to the future, the happy couple admit they’ve discussed the possibility of starting a family. “He’s such a good dad,” Tisha gushes. “He’s so caring and loving. I would love that for our child if we have one.”
Here, Alan and Tisha tell us about falling in love, looking ahead and Alan’s recent return to the cobbles…
How did you first meet?
Tisha: We first met on Corrie years ago and I remember thinking how Alan was so nice, professional and really kind. Then a while later, I moved to Worsley near Alan and I started going to this yoga studio. One day I got a message from him saying he went to the same studio and we should go together one day.
Alan: I’d really got into hot yoga and someone mentioned that Tisha was going to the same studio so I thought we could go together. We got on so well and after that we spent a lot of time together. We’d play badminton, or go for walks or dinners. We lived less than a mile away from each another.
Tisha: It was about nine months of friendship at the start. It’s nice that we built a strong foundation before anything romantic.
Did people assume that you were more than friends?
Tisha: Oh, all the time!
Alan: Everyone assumed something was going on. I’d go to my mum’s house and she’d say, “Anything happening yet?” But honestly, for those nine months we didn’t even have a kiss!
Tisha: One day I was in the car with Alan and I looked at him and thought, “Do I like him?” I texted my friend and she quickly replied saying, “You do! Go for it!”
How did things turn romantic?
Alan: By that point, Tisha knew I liked her so when she realised she felt the same, it sort of progressed naturally.
Tisha: When you’re really good friends, you’re scared of ruining things. But then we had a bottle of wine over a game of Scrabble and by the end we’d decided to give things a go. I love how our relationship started. We say all the time that we’re best mates. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer. We always say, “Oh gosh, it’s only been a year or so,” because we put so much time in as friends.
When did you decide to move in together?
Tisha: We don’t actually know! We spent all our time together and Alan would say to me, “You’ve been here more than your own apartment!”
Alan: It happened sometime after we got together, but it happened so naturally. It made sense because Tisha had a really nice apartment with no one living in it.
Lockdown has been a big test for couples. How have you found it?
Alan: We’re very fortunate to have lovely outdoor space where we are and we’ve tried to make the most of it. We’ve been so lucky with the weather, too.
Tisha: I know I’ve said this to you and you’ve also said you couldn’t have spent lockdown with anyone but me.
Alan: We do have a lot of similar interests. We love games, so we’ll play a game of cards together or Trivial Pursuit.
Tisha: Or we do things separately. Alan started playing the saxophone and I love to read. So we have the best of both worlds.
Have you both discussed marriage and having kids?
Alan: You always talk to each other about your aspirations, don’t you? What you’d like in terms of family, etc. We’ve never had a proper serious sit down but we’ve discussed the future together.
Tisha, does seeing Alan as a doting dad to his daughter Sienna make you excited for your own children?
Yeah, he’ll be so amazing. When we were still friends, I got asked to babysit and asked Alan to come along. We got there and it was just Alan babysitting. He’s such a good dad; he’s so caring and loving. He notices everything and his communication with Sienna is so strong. I would love that for our child if we have one.
Alan, you recently teased fans about a pregnancy by sharing a scan photo of a liver…
Tisha: I howled at that. It really tickled me.
Alan: It had like 20,000 likes in a day. So many people wrote back congratulating us. I was like, “Read the caption! It’s a joke about my liver!”
Are there qualities in each other that you’ve not had in previous partners?
Tisha: Definitely. Someone that is easygoing, accepting and understanding. I don’t know what would even make Alan angry. He’s the most calm and collected person. I panic if I have too much on my schedule and Alan calms me down. That’s why we work so well.
Alan: I would say it’s the fun and laughter that Tisha’s brought. When we’re together, it’s always fun. The fun in our relationship is great.
Tisha: We laugh so much. I am really funny.
Alan: What? [Laughs]
Tisha: Okay, you’re the funniest person I’ve ever met. I’m going to regret saying that.
Tisha, how well do you get on with Alan’s daughter Sienna?
We’re so close. The first time I met Sienna, I’d gone over to Alan’s house. We were still mates at this point and within about five minutes, she told me we were going to do a dance routine and then she took me upstairs to play with her dolls. She decided we were going to be friends right away. She’s so funny and she makes me laugh so much. She was so happy when she found out Alan and I were dating.
The idea of a stepmother role could be quite daunting, but you seem to have taken to it so naturally…
Tisha: Sienna is the easiest girl ever and things either come naturally or she’s just an angel. In all honesty, I have had a few times where I’ve thought, “Oh my God, my life has changed so much.” It’s crazy but it’s changing for the better. When I first got together with Alan and became a bigger part of Sienna’s life, my dad said, “This will be the making of you.” It’s tricky when you’ve gone from being a single girl with no one else to think about, to someone with a family. It’s the best thing in the world but it can be really daunting. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Alan, you seemed to lash out at your ex Lucy-Jo’s new partner Lewis Devine when he referred to Sienna on Instagram as “Our Sienna”. How are things now?
Alan: There’s always going to be ups and downs with a blended family. So long as Sienna comes first in all of it, that’s all that matters. Sienna’s got her mum and her dad, and she’s also got Lewis and Tisha. It’s just a case that everybody loves her. Of course there will be differences of opinion; so long as we’re in that loving way when Sienna is around. We don’t have a great deal of communication, it’s only ever about Sienna and that’s all it ever needs to be.
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Your house is absolutely stunning. How long have you lived here?
Alan: I’d seen a bungalow for sale on this plot and it said sold, but the very next day I drove past and it had a for sale sign up again. So I knocked on the door and a man named Alan answered and we just sat down and discussed the property. This was before Sienna was born in 2013, so taking on such a project was a bit crazy but I just loved the area. I lived in the bungalow for a few years before I thought about designing the new house to build on the plot in 2016. It was a lot of stress but we got there in the end. Sienna loves this home too, she calls it her princess house when it’s lit up at night.
Tisha, is it nice to be able to add your touches to the place?
When I moved in, I wondered where my stuff would go as the house was so well thought out. But then Alan was like, “Just dump that there, pop that inside here!” Alan let me have a room upstairs to use for my YouTube channel and let me have free rein. We do have similar styles though so it works well.
Alan, you’ve recently gone back to Coronation Street after lockdown. How does it feel to be back?
It’s great. We’ve had this time at home and we’ve made the most of it, but I love that place and to go back and be around those people again after so long is lovely. I was delighted to be back. It’s lovely to bring a bit of normality back after everything.
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