Summer Spellman is the teenage ward of vicar Billy Mayhew. The adopted daughter of Billy's old flame Drew Spellman, Summer lost the only parent she'd ever known in 2017 when Drew died from complications caused by cancer.
In accordance with Drew's wishes, upon his death the twelve-year-old was placed in the guardianship of Billy and his partner Todd Grimshaw, living at 19a Rosamund Street. The transition was difficult for all concerned, and within months Todd had abandoned Billy and Summer. Since then, Summer has helped Billy beat a drug habit and get his life back on track.
2004-2017: Early life
Summer was born in 2004. As a baby, she was adopted by Charlie and Drew Spellman. Her godfather was Billy Mayhew, Drew's ex-boyfriend. Once thick as thieves, Drew and Billy drifted apart when Summer was a baby. After a year, Charlie walked out as he couldn't cope with the pressures of raising a child, and Drew continued to raise Summer by himself. As Drew was estranged from his strict Christian parents Angus and Geraldine Spellman due to his homosexuality, Summer grew up not knowing them. The result was a very close father-daughter relationship in Summer's formative years, with the girl inheriting Drew's book smarts and sharp intelligence.
In 2017, Drew was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and so tried to make sure that Summer would be looked after so that he could go in peace. He and his daughter moved to Weatherfield and Drew met up with Billy, now vicar at St. Mary's Church, asking him to become Summer's guardian. Billy reluctantly declined on account of his boyfriend Todd Grimshaw, who didn't want to be a father, forcing Drew to arrange for his parents to have Summer instead. However, when Billy met Summer, developing an instant rapport with the inquisitive twelve-year-old, he changed his mind and told Drew that he would take the girl on. Billy and Todd were allowed to spend the day with Summer, which went well until Summer overheard Todd cracking jokes about her going into a children's home, making her feel unwanted. That same day, Drew took a bad turn and passed away from heart failure. A grief-stricken Summer was immediately taken to her new home at Drew's parents'.
Although Summer was miserable at her grandparents', where she was forbidden from talking about her dad, she was resigned to living there until she was sixteen. Geraldine had ordered Billy and Todd not to contact Summer, as she saw Drew as having corrupted her and treated the men with equal contempt. When Summer decided to sue the hospital for negligence, she consulted Adam Barlow at Barlow Legal Services, who palmed her off onto his new business partner - Todd. Todd admitted that she didn't have a case, but the encounter allowed Todd and Summer to patch up their differences. Through Summer, Billy and Todd found out about the rules her grandparents had imposed, and resolved to get Summer away from them for her own good.
Obtaining her address from Adam's case files, Billy and Todd visited the Spellman house and appealed to the reasonable but hen-pecked Angus to do what was best for Summer. When Geraldine made a homophobic attack on Drew's character, Angus put a stop to the proceedings by producing Drew's last will - written three days before he died - making Billy Summer's legal guardian; Geraldine had kept it to herself in order to give Summer a chance at salvation. When all parties agreed to abide by Summer's decision, Summer chose to go with Billy and Todd, following her father's last wish. Summer then moved into 19a Rosamund Street, which Billy and Todd had rented to provide a home for her.
2017-2018: Baptism of fire
On top of everything else, Summer was still adjusting to her new school and hadn't made any new friends. When Tracy Barlow attempted to pair her with Amy, the girls did not get on, with Summer hitting Amy for dissing Drew. Eventually, she fell in with Amy's circle of friends including Asha Alahan and Simon Barlow.
In October, Summer tried to show Amy and Asha that she wasn't boring by joining in on their pranking, spraying a penis in shaving foam on a teacher's car. Later, she accepted a dare from Simon to smoke a strange-looking cigarette. The cigarette contained spice, causing Summer to faint. She was found unconscious in the ginnel by Amy and Simon, who got help from Simon's father Peter Barlow. Fortunately, Summer suffered no lasting ill effects however Simon's error in judgement caused Billy to see red and knock Peter to the floor. To keep Summer from being taken into care, Peter took full responsibility for the incident, even after Billy confessed in a bid to clear his conscience.
Billy's confession opened a can of worms which exposed his role in a 2001 armed robbery in Preston. Sixteen years earlier, he and Gareth Brannigan had robbed a petrol station at gunpoint and crashed into another car as they made their escape. Although Billy was now a reformed character, he still carried the guilt. When it was identified as the crash that killed Susan Barlow, Peter - Susan's brother - got revenge on Billy by contacting Geraldine and advising her that Summer wasn't safe. Summer, expecting to meet her concerned gran, was picked up by Todd who whisked her off to a town by the sea until the situation with Billy blew over. Their disappearance caused Geraldine to report Todd to the police for abducting a child, leading to a manhunt.
After laying low at a B&B for four weeks, masquerading as father and daughter, Todd and Summer were found by the police. As a distraction, Todd punched one of the police officers thus allowing Summer to flee and meet up with Billy and Eileen Phelan. Summer then moved back into the flat with Billy as they waited for Todd to get in touch.
The next few months were no less turbulent for Summer. Following a Christmas Day fall off a cliff during a showdown with Peter regarding Susan's death, Billy was in a wheelchair and in no position to look after his young ward. He did recover, but was in constant pain which he made every effort to hide from her. Summer was able to see Geraldine off, throwing her support behind Billy as her legal guardian. She saw it as her job to help Billy through his troubles, and ran herself ragged doing all the household chores until he got better. When she fell behind at school, her history teacher Mrs Lowe met with Billy and Geraldine and Billy was persuaded to give Summer temporarily over to the Spellmans. Unaware of Billy's painkiller addiction, Summer did not accept the situation until she had a confrontation with her guardian in the flat, where Billy was drugged-up on heroin and harshly told her to go and live with Geraldine. Instead of her grandparents', Summer went to stay with Eileen and Pat Phelan at 11 Coronation Street, wanting to stay close to Billy.
While Summer was at the Phelans', Billy's problems continued. The vicar went missing for two weeks, eventually re-surfacing when the police raided a drugs den. Adam Barlow, thinking that Billy had suffered enough for what happened in 2001, told the police that Billy was visiting the den in his vocational capacity in order to get him off the hook. Summer and Eileen then arranged with Bishop John Thornber for Billy to stay at a Christian rehab centre. The girl moved back in with Billy upon his return, and things finally started to get better for the family.
2018 to present: Moving on
In April 2018, Summer applied for work experience at UKSA but was turned down, much to her disappointment. A sympathetic Aidan Connor invited her to shadow Alya Nazir at Underworld, where Summer proved her aptitude by correcting figures from a supplier which Alya had endorsed. Summer also had a crush on Aidan, and was devastated when he took his own life several weeks later. Motivated to help others in a similar situation, Summer pitched an idea for a helpline for young men to Carla and Johnny Connor, calling it "Speak & Save", which Carla agreed to fund through Underworld. The campaign earned Summer a nomination for a Weatherfield Good Samaritan award.
As they had still heard nothing from Todd, Billy allowed himself to fall for Gemma Winter's brother Paul Foreman. Summer supported the relationship, and approved when Paul moved into the flat with them in November 2019.
- "I'm the weird kid. The one that doesn't fit in."
Summer is a bright, demure teenage girl, mature for her age. Often found with her nose in a book, she owes her inquisitive nature to her father Drew Spellman, who taught Summer to be curious about the world around her. Befitting the ward of a vicar, she always tries to help people in need. Her charity begins at home. As an only child with a dying father, Summer helped Drew get washed and dressed, and later when Billy Mayhew was recovering from a painkiller addiction, Summer wore herself out doing all the chores and shopping, viewing her guardian's duty of care towards her as a two-way street.
Beyond the home, Summer tries to be socially responsible and is always up for supporting a good cause. She doesn't drink bottled water because of the carbon footprint and, in 2018, she pitched the idea for "Speak & Save", a helpline for young men in the wake of Aidan Connor's suicide. The year after that, Summer, together with Billy and Paul Foreman, launched a campaign in favour of a controversial bail hostel that was in talks to open opposite Redbank Apartments in Victoria Street.
A thoughtful, introverted young woman, Summer is very softly-spoken, and tends to guard her emotions. This made it difficult for her to make friends in Coronation Street as the other children such as Amy Barlow found her standoffish and morose, and at school it made her a target for bullies. Despite frequently playing a supportive role in her friends' dramas, offering them a sympathetic ear or word of advice, she tends not to seek help when going through her own troubles, preferring to soldier on by herself.
Billy Mayhew was the ex-boyfriend of Summer's adopted father Drew Spellman, and Summer's godfather. Once a big part of other's lives, Billy and Drew drifted apart after Summer was born. In 2017, when Drew found out he was dying, he chose Billy to have Summer, trusting him to raise the twelve-year-old as he would have done.
Having heard stories from Drew about Billy's kindness, Summer sussed that he was being lined up as her guardian and took the opportunity to subtly assess him on her first visit to Coronation Street with Drew. Billy was immediately won over by Summer, but Summer was less impressed, being critical of Billy and his boyfriend Todd Grimshaw for not having their own home.
When Drew passed away, Summer's grandparents Geraldine and Angus Spellman took her in, against their son's wishes. Though miserable at her grandparents', Summer was angrier with Billy for wasting her father's final days; when she struggled with her eulogy at Drew's funeral and Billy went to her aid, she was dismissive of him and ran from the pulpit. However, when it was revealed that Geraldine had blocked Drew's last will making Billy Summer's guardian, Summer decided to take a chance on Billy and moved into 19a Rosamund Street with him and Todd.
Some early efforts to help Summer through her grief demonstrated that Billy was in over his head. When he found a memory box with pictures and items about Drew hidden away, Billy put the pictures up around the flat, leading Summer to snatch them back and lock herself in her bedroom. One photo, of Summer with Drew after they built a robot out of scrap metal, inspired Billy and Todd to construct one themselves, in an obvious attempt to draw Summer out of her shell. Summer saw straight through the ploy, but lent a hand anyway. The teen and her guardian started to get along better when Billy promised her that he would never try to replace Drew.
Summer's devotion to Billy was put to the test early in 2018 when they were reunited following her month on the run with Todd. At the time, Billy was slowly regaining the use of his legs after being pushed down a cliff on Christmas Day by Peter Barlow, and was in a wheelchair. Further, Billy was becoming addicted to painkillers, helped along the way by a vindictive Adam Barlow. Summer saw it as her job to look after Billy, doing all the household chores and shopping, which left her sleep deprived and falling behind at school. At one point, Summer put Billy's hoody in the washing machine, unknowingly washing away painkillers Billy was counting on to get him through the next few days. Summer, not understanding what was wrong with Billy, was freaked out when she caught him shivering in the flat as he went through withdrawal. Unfortunately, in his desperation for something to ease his pain Billy turned to his drug addict brother Lee Mayhew, who introduced him to heroin. When Summer caught a drugged-up Billy and Lee in the flat, Billy was so ashamed of himself that he absconded, leaving a note saying he was sorry. Even then, Summer refused to give up on Billy and, once he was safe and sound, she helped arrange for him to stay at a Christian rehab centre.
Another blow up followed when Tracy Barlow evicted Billy and Summer from the flat, refusing to have a junkie living above her shop. After Billy meekly accepted the eviction, Adam came to their rescue by threatening Tracy that he would report her rental earnings to the taxman unless she backed down, saving their home. Summer took Billy to task for being weak and declared that she was moving out as soon as she was old enough, but was persuaded by Shona Ramsey to give her guardian another chance.
Some intervention from Summer proved key early on in Billy's relationship with his current partner, Paul Foreman. When Billy congratulated Paul on his new job as a Kabin paperboy in April 2019, Summer warned him that he came across as patronising. Billy responded by taking on a paper round himself to show that he had respect for Paul, leading to the men sharing their first kiss later that day. Six months later, Summer caught Paul trying to leave Weatherfield and persuaded him to speak to Billy before he went, allowing Billy to talk him round.
In the latter half of 2017, Todd Grimshaw acted as Summer's other guardian. Having only been with Billy for a year when Summer came on the scene, Todd didn't think they were solid enough to take on a vulnerable child and asked Billy to turn Drew down without ever meeting Summer. When Billy pressed ahead with the adoption regardless, certain that Todd would like her, Todd chose to go along with it rather than lose Billy. A promising introduction to Summer followed, but when the girl overheard Todd joking about sending her to a children's home, she went sour on him and Billy.
The next time Todd spoke with Summer was after Drew's death, when she showed up at Barlow Legal Services to file a lawsuit against her dad's doctors for letting him die. Unbeknown to Summer, Todd was in talks with Adam Barlow to become his business partner; still angry with him for pretending to want her, she was annoyed to find him working on her case, but the encounter gave Todd the opportunity to make amends with the girl. Although she didn't have grounds to sue, Todd strung Summer along for several weeks in order to make sure that she was okay at her grandparents'. They began to get on and Summer's complaints about how strict her grandparents were gave Todd and Billy the push they needed to fight to get her away from them.
With a history of Machiavellian behaviour, Todd wasn't always the best role model for Summer. In October 2017, when Summer was caught spraying a penis in shaving foam on a teacher's car, Todd admitted that he'd told the girl that on occasion it was fine to bend the rules as long as she didn't get caught.
Despite himself, Todd enjoyed having Summer in his life and would do anything to protect her. In December of that year, when Geraldine got wind of problems between Billy and the Barlows, Todd fled Weatherfield with the girl, taking her to a B&B by the sea until the coast was clear. However, his rash actions had made the situation worse, with Geraldine reporting him to the police for snatching Summer. When the police found them, Todd punched one of the police officers as a distraction to allow Summer to escape and reunite with Billy. Later, when questioned about the kidnapping, Summer told them that Todd had looked after her. However, her loyalty wavered in the coming months as Todd failed to return or get in touch, leaving her and Billy unaware if he was alive or dead. When he returned to the area in 2020, none the worse for wear, after the initial shock Summer agreed not to hold a grudge.
Now a close friend of Summer's, Amy Barlow was foisted on her when Billy's landlady Tracy Barlow brought her teenage daughter over to the flower shop flat to meet the newcomer in 2017. It was a disaster as the girls patently had nothing in common, with Summer finding Amy shallow and vain, and Amy taking pleasure in winding Summer up. The bonding session ended with Amy insulting Drew and Summer retaliating by hitting Amy. By September, the girls were getting along better and Summer did homemade highlights for Amy which turned her hair bright orange, sending Tracy ballistic.
Eventually, Summer joined Amy's circle of friends, including Asha Alahan and Simon Barlow, but she was always an outlier in the group. In October, Amy and Asha persuaded Summer to join in on their pranks on the basis that as she had a dead dad, she could easily talk her way out of trouble. This led to Summer smoking a deadly spice cigarette causing her to collapse. When Amy and Simon found her in the ginnel, they immediately sought help for her, accepting whatever punishment came their way. The following March, Summer was being picked on again as Simon used Tyler Jefferies's phone to text Summer, asking her for a date. Summer was upset when the deception was revealed and Simon laughed at the idea of Tyler fancying her, though his nastiness was roundly condemned by Amy and Asha.
In 2018, Summer enlisted Amy's help in tracing a missing Billy. Their search led them to St Lucius Hostel, where they were nearly mugged by a homeless man when he led them to a derelict spot where they could supposedly find Billy. Luckily, Peter Barlow arrived in time and rescued the girls before they came to any harm. The following year, Summer gave words of support to Amy when their classmates gossiped about her pregnancy, though ultimately she decided to have a termination.
In 2020, Kelly Neelan joined their group only to be ostracized when she texted naked photos of Asha - passed on to her by Asha's boyfriend Corey Brent - to a group chat in order to humiliate Asha. Summer believed that Kelly had acted in a moment of madness and was the only member of the gang to stand by her, going as far as to persuade Billy to let her stay at the flat when her mum left home and abandoned her.
Hobbies and interests
Summer's main past-time was reading. At home she had a large collection of paperbacks, preferring physical books to e-books. Her main areas of interest were history, politics, business, and the sciences, particularly astronomy which she hoped to study at university. A reader of New Scientist, Summer hoped to go into space one day and in pursuit of that goal she applied for work experience at UKSA in 2018, though her application was unsuccessful.
Summer joined Coronation Street in 2017, two months after her father Drew Spellman. The intention from the outset was that Drew would pass away and Billy Mayhew and Todd Grimshaw would become Summer's guardians, as confirmed by producer Kate Oates at a press event on 25th May . At one point, Summer was envisioned as being mixed race , though the the part ultimately went to Cheshire-born Caucasian actor Matilda Freeman.
Acting since the age of nine, 12-year-old Freeman had a long list of credits by the time she auditioned for Coronation Street, appearing in short films Lifeline, Strain, The Chime of Youth and Limbo with her most recent project being the feature film The Last Boy . The actress auditioned with Daniel Brocklebank and, according to Brocklebank, was the clear front-runner: “I did screen tests with five different actresses and I knew immediately that she was ‘the one.’ With a lot of child actors, you have to drive the scene yourself, whereas with Matilda, you can throw stuff at her and she runs with it.” . The scene she performed was one in which Summer and Billy debated whether God existed, which eventually aired as part of Episode 9189. Kate Oates stated that Summer was based on Lisa Simpson, according to Freeman "quite quick-witted, very very clever, quite sarcastic in ways but quite emotional." .
Making her debut in Episode 9187 on 16th June 2017, Summer's second scene in Roy's Rolls was the first one Freeman shot . Daniel Brocklebank and Bruno Langley, playing Billy and Todd respectively, were impressed with their new co-star. Brocklebank: “I had 20 years experience in the industry before I joined Corrie and I was sh***ing myself on my first day! But she was as cool as a cucumber.” Langley: "She just walked on set and did it. She said to the director during one scene: ‘Do you want me to cry on this take?’ I looked at Dan and I was like ‘Sh**, she is really good! She’s going to show us up!'” .
Summer was temporarily written out in December 2017 along with Todd following the termination of Bruno Langley's contract. The actor was fired with immediate effect after being accused of sexually assaulting two women in a Manchester nightclub . Todd and Summer spent four weeks on the run from the police after which Summer re-appeared, sans Todd. She and Billy then carried on as a single parent family.
After her first year in Coronation Street, Summer's role was significantly scaled down; her 106 appearances in her initial twelve months was followed by only 39 over the next two years. A further two appearances were recorded in the summer of 2020 after production resumed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, writers were preparing to revive the character of Todd with Gareth Pierce in the role, and Summer was written out temporarily so that a dramatic reunion could happen later in the year, with the teen said to be staying at her grandmother Geraldine Spellman's. Her return was in the early planning stages when Matilda Freeman quit her role. In a statement released on 27th October, Freeman stated that she wanted to explore opportunities outside the Street, with ITV announcing that Summer would be recast .
In an interview with the Conversation Street podcast, Freeman elaborated on her reasons for leaving Coronation Street, citing the exclusivity clause in her contract which meant that she couldn't take other work while playing Summer. Freeman: "After my first year I wasn't used as much and I probably would have had time to go and shoot something for a month or a few weeks because I wasn't being used, but I couldn't because of the exclusivity of it." In the same interview, Freeman notes her lack of screen time, giving possible reasons: "[Summer]'s actually meant to be 17, and I'm 16 but I look like 13, I look really young, and that was kind of holding the writing back because they could write storylines for a 17-year-old character but a lot of people were like "she's only 15". But I was meant to be older." On breaking the news to her bosses: "They were fine to be honest, they didn't really have much planned for Summer, but they wanted to recast cos they wanted to keep the character but they said it was a pleasure to work with me and I loved working with everybody so it was very just sort of mutual friendliness I suppose." . A decision was made to use Summer's upcoming return as a vehicle to introduce the new actress, therefore making Freeman's appearance in Episode 10106 on 26th August her final one in the role. (Listen to Matilda's interview with Conversation Street here)
The new actress, Harriet Bibby, was a month into filming when the recast was announced. In ITV's press release, Bibby stated: "Matilda has wished me good luck, which was lovely! I'm looking forward to bringing Summer's sass and sparkle to the screen." . At 22, Bibby was six years older than Summer. Commenting on the age disparity, the actress said to Manchester Evening News: "It doesn't feel that bizarre. I still feel like a kid and I do have a baby face, and she's had a difficult past which has made her more mature." . Bibby debuted in the role in Episode 10173, broadcast on 20th November.
First and last lines
"I looked up gay vicars. The Church of England doesn't know what to do with yer, does it?" (First line, to Billy Mayhew)
List of addresses
|Unknown, Weatherfield||April 2017 to 16th June 2017|
|Spellman residence||16th June to 26th July 2017|
|19a Rosamund Street||26th July 2017 to present|