CORONATION Street favourite Charles Lawson has revealed that he suffered a mini-stroke on stage at the beginning of a national tour which sees him returning to Manchester next week.

Charles, best known as Jim McDonald in TV’s favourite soap, missed three performances of Rebus: Long Shadows after being taken ill when the tour opened in Edinburgh three weeks ago.

“Not to put too fine point on it, I had a TIA on stage, which you probably know is a mini-stroke,” he said.

“We opened in Edinburgh playing to a full house and I was halfway through the second half, the climax of the play and I went deaf.

“I was aware that John Stahl (who plays gangster Big Ger Cafferty in the production) was saying his lines but I thought they were from a different play. For about two minutes I had no idea where I was then I woke up in the wings.

“It was a little disturbing to say the least.”

Charles, 59, has reassured theatregoers heading to Manchester Opera House next week for the first stage play based on Ian Rankin’s best selling crime novels that he is back on top form.

“There was no lasting damage so I’m back on stage and delighted to be saying that I’m firing on all cylinders,” he said. “When I sit down and think about it then it’s a shock but apparently they are very common. Sometimes people don’t even know they’ve had them until there is a problem later on.

“But I definitely knew something was wrong with me - I had absolutely no idea what was going on at all.

“I’ve been given medication which I’ll be on for the rest of my life and that’s where we are up to. But I can assure you I’m in good nick.”

Charles is playing Rebus, the flawed detective who is tormented by his past. Rebus: Long Shadows has been devised by Ian Rankin and written by Rona Munro.

“It’s a huge role and a very good one,” he said. “There are 108 pages of dialogue and I’m in all 108 of them. It’s not a role I could easily turn down.”

Ian Rankin’s novels are perennial best sellers but Charles admits he has never read any of them. He’s also never watched the TV adaptations of some of the novels featuring John Hannah and Ken Stott.

“I actually think that has helped as I’ve been able to make him my own,” he said. “Ian has been on hand from day one. He’s been dreaming of seeing a three-dimensional Rebus for years and in his words ‘his dream has been fulfilled’.”

Rebus fans are a devoted bunch with many even taking tours of Edinburgh to see locations mentioned in the many books so is Charles worried about how they might react to his portrayal of the complex character?

“Rebus is a character on paper but when you step into the live arena that’s a totally different thing,” he said. “People will cling to it and love it because it’s completely different. Theatre is living and breathing around you. Perhaps will be people who hate it but I’m sure that will be in a minority because you’ve got Siobhan (Rebus’ colleague played by Cathy Tyson), Big Ger Cafferty and you’ve got Rebus. You have the three main protagonists from the novels and they are live in front of you.

Charles accepts that many people may be surprised to see him in this gritty stage drama.

“I’ve been around for 40 years. I’ve done Educating Rita and the RSC at the National but the good folk of Manchester will probably know me as one person and one person only and that’s Jim McDonald,” he said.

Charles returned to Coronation Street earlier this year in a dramatic storyline which saw Jim being duped by his girlfriend into trying to con his ex-wife Liz.

“We had to shoehorn the storyline of Jim and Liz into two months because I wasn’t available any longer because of this tour,” he said.

“Had they asked me when they created the story in the early spring we could have done the storyline was it was planned to be but as I’d already accepted Rebus they had to condense the storyline into 30 episodes or so which some people didn’t like it. But I’m just an actor. I do what’s in front of me.

“Everyone knows Jim. He very quickly realised what he was doing was wrong and he didn’t want any part of it and tried to get out of it. By nature he is a flawed man but he’s not a bad man - and so is Rebus.”

So are viewers likely to see Jim McDonald back on the Street any time soon?

“I’m not privy to what goes on upstairs but I’d like to see the McDonalds back together fit and healthy because together they are a formidable couple.

“I’d certainly go back,” he said. “But we are looking at taking Rebus out again next year so in an ideal world it would be great to do a bit more Rebus and to do Corrie.”

Rebus: Long Shadows, Manchester Opera House, Tuesday, October 30 to Saturday, November 3. Details from 0844 871 3018 or