A FORMER soap star is swapping the drama of the Queen Vic for a little laughter as she prepares to take to the stage for a slapstick comedy.
Emma Barton is better known to many as the bubbly Honey in EastEnders, a former model who married the unlucky Billy Mitchell. But now she has swapped the bright clothes for some more serious outfits as sensible housekeeper Dolly in One Man Two Guvnors.
The show is set to hit Stoke-on-Trent's Regent Theatre from Monday to Saturday, August 25 to 30, and so far has been well received by audiences across the country.
Barton told the Mail: "We have been on the road for just over two months now and we are having a ball really. I am loving the tour and you get to see parts of the country you don't necessarily get to see. It is a little bit of a jolly as well as work as it is a lot of fun.
"I have been to Stoke a couple of times, I was there with Loveshack back in 2005 and everyone loved it. I was there again in 2009 with Chicago and we made a little trip to Alton Towers. I think we will have to make a trip back but I will not be able to scream and shout too much as I may lose my voice for the show."
The bubbly actress is no stranger to the production after watching fellow EastEnder Kellie Shirley (who played Carly Wickes), who was playing Pauline, and ever since she has been determined to get a part in the show where mistaken identity, food, money and romance are high on the agenda.
She said: "I absolutely loved it and thought I would love to have this job but I did not know it was going on tour. I loved it that much I wanted to go back the next night as it was so busy and fast and I missed bits as I was laughing so much.
"I was absolutely over the moon when the call came in as I don't think I have ever worked so hard for an audition as I had to get the job. This show is my sense of humour and my era as I love the 60s.
"It is a bit like a Carry On film and it is my dream job. I am a lucky girl.
"Dolly is a brilliant character as she is the housekeeper and general dogsbody, but she does rule the roost in the household. She is very ballsy and feisty, she has her own views and is quite cheeky.
"The name Dolly suits her as she is a bit of a dolly bird and I get to channel my northern accent.
"She is the total opposite of Honey in the way she walks, talks and looks – it's brilliant. I basically get paid to dress up and be silly.
"Honey's storylines got dark at times but she was such a comic character who got her words wrong, and she was quirky and silly. She is very sweet and comedy is what I enjoy doing.
"Even Roxy in Chicago has a comedy side to her and I think I am probably better at doing that than heavy, serious dramas."
However, Barton did not rule out a return for Honey – after all, she did leave her daughter with Billy while she took their son to Canada for a year, but said she could not say at the moment what would happen to the character.
She said: "I think you get the instant rewards from being on the stage and you don't really get that with television. You do a scene and then move on to the next and don't end up seeing it until six weeks later and by then you have moved on to other things.
"It is a wonderful feeling of hearing the audience laugh at your lines, or your cast mates' lines, and you get a rush from doing the lines in the theatre.
"My heart does tend to direct more to the theatre than television."
Tickets for the Stoke show are available at www.atgtickets.com/shows/one-man-two-guvnors/regent-theatre/