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Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay on panto in Kent this Christmas at the Marlowe Theatre

As the curtain goes up for the first Kent panto this week, former Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay talks about her love for Canterbury and Christmas.

You probably know Sally Lindsay best as barmaid Shelley Unwin in ITV’s Coronation Street.

But her time in the limelight goes way back - her first television appearance was at seven when her school choir, the St Winifred’s School Choir, released There’s No One Quite Like Grandma - which reached No.1 back in 1980.

Sally Lindsay as the Fairy Godmother in the Marlowe Theatre's panto. Picture: Paul Amos
Sally Lindsay as the Fairy Godmother in the Marlowe Theatre's panto. Picture: Paul Amos

It’s actually more than a decade since Sally left Corrie - though people still recognise her as Shelley - and she’s been on our screens in everything from Still Open All Hours on BBC1 with David Jason to ITV’s all-female lunchtime show, Loose Women and the Sky One comedy drama, Mount Pleasant.

She takes on panto at the Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre this Christmas as the Fairy Godmother. And she’s more than happy to be “nice”.

Sally Lindsay as Shelly Unwin in ITV's Coronation Street in 2004 and Bill Ward as Charlie Stubbs.
Sally Lindsay as Shelly Unwin in ITV's Coronation Street in 2004 and Bill Ward as Charlie Stubbs.

“I was evil last year so I’m nice this year,” she says. Not in Kent last Christmas, she was working with panto producers Evolution Productions elsewhere in the country, and was keen to do panto again when the offer came.

“What a place to be at Christmas. I have always loved Canterbury,” she said. “It’s so stunning. I cannot wait.

“And I love Christmas. I go full-on.”

Medway's Mister Maker Phil Gallagher. Picture: Paul Amos
Medway's Mister Maker Phil Gallagher. Picture: Paul Amos

Sally, who is married to the former drummer of Paul Weller’ Style Council, with whom she has young twin boys, is also relishing working in Canterbury this Christmas as she can stay at home in Eltham with her family - the family who will certainly be heading down to the Marlowe to see her in action.

“Being in panto is so nice for the boys over Christmas and being able to work without being away from home. It’s a dream, I’m very excited about the whole thing.”

She comes to panto after a busy year which has been varied.

“I do all sorts - it is never boring,” she says. “Whatever it is though, I always work very, very hard at what I’m going to do.”

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The former Royle Family star, however, recently threw herself into a documentary about Suffragette leader Emeline Pankhurst for Channel 5- The Making of a Militant - during the centenary of women gaining the vote, which proved absorbing for her.

Her new documentary series, also for is a little more light hearted and is with actor Nigel Havers - himself a former Corrie star as rogue Lewis Archer.

The pair will be living an upstairs, downstairs role in hotels around the country, which, she says, had been fun to film.

And she starts a drama for Channel 5 in February, though is tight-lipped about its content, before starting joining the auditions queue, which every actor has to do at some stage.

“Whatever level, you still get nervous,” she admits.

Sally will be starring alongside local favourite Lloyd Hollett. Picture: Paul Amos
Sally will be starring alongside local favourite Lloyd Hollett. Picture: Paul Amos

But would she ever go back to Shelley?

“Well,” she says with a pause, “never say never.”

The theatre’s panto, which was seen by more than 100,000 people last year, also stars Medway-based kids favourite Phil “Mister Maker” Gallagher as Buttons, alongside Canterbury favourites, Ben Roddy and Lloyd Hollett as the Ugly Sisters.

The show is the 10th consecutive year panto producers Evolution Productions have brought audiences the Christmas extravaganza there. Writer, co-producer and director Paul Hendy said: “We’re incredibly proud of the Marlowe pantomime’s reputation for being one of the biggest and best pantomimes in the country.

Canterbury panto regular Ben Roddy. Picture: Paul Amos
Canterbury panto regular Ben Roddy. Picture: Paul Amos

“This year, we have an incredibly talented cast.

“We set the bar so high every year, every year we have to improve on that - there is pressure to deliver. But that inspires us to be better and better.”

The curtain will go up at the Marlowe on Friday, November 23 with the panto running until Sunday, January 6. To book tickets call 01227 787787 or visit the website at marlowetheatre.com


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