AS she delights audiences at Bolton’s Albert Halls playing Fairy Superior in the family pantomime Cinderella, Vicky Entwistle admits “it’s a bit weird, I’ve never been cheered when I’ve gone on stage before.”

Former Coronation Street star Vicky - she played Janice Battersby on the top TV soap for 14 years - has regularly appeared in panto and festive shows but Cinderella marks a first for her.

“I love playing a baddie,” she said, “but this is the first time in my life that I’m a goodie. I’m the fairy godmother who has been doing the whole fairy bit for a long time. I have an apprentice fairy to take under my wings in the show. She’s a bit useless and it’s up to me to show her the ropes.

“I’m loving it. She is quite funny and I’m doing everything I can to make her has funny as I can.”

Vicky is no stranger to performing at the Albert Halls. In 2019 she was part of a Bolton Octagon production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest which was staged their while the Octagon underwent a multi-million pound refit.

“The thing I remember most about that was having to wear a corset,” said Vicky, who played the governess Miss Prism.

“It was so tight. My dresser would come to get me into it and I’d call her evil. She literally had her foot on my back to get the thing tight.

“But that costume really helped the role. Not only physically, but it also helped psychologically to get into the character as it made me feel up tight and oppressed.”

In Cinderella, Vicky has a much more actor-friendly costume, complete with fairy wings. She is also hugely aware of the young audiences who come to see the show over the festive period.

“For many of them, this might be their first live show and there is a real responsibility because of that,” she said. “For me, that makes it even more exciting.

“When you are in the dressing room and put the relay on (a speaker which broadcasts sound from the theatre) you can hear all the kids arriving and the excited chatter. It used to make me nervous thinking ‘oh my God, there’s bus loads out there’ but now I love to listen to them.

“They are already on the ceiling having had a bag of sweets before the show starts.

“Sometimes when I’ve been the baddie I’ve had to get my microphone turned up because I couldn’t hear myself they were booing so loudly.

“I’m hoping this year it might be a little bit easier as I’m one of the nice ones.

“But as an actor, it is exciting. If they go away knowing a story and having been engaged throughout then you have done your job. I think theatre is a brilliant educator; getting them to use their imaginations and they get to take in the costumes and meet the different characters. As a child everything seems massive.

“And who knows what that might start in someone in the audience. There is nothing better than watching someone do something that you quite fancy doing yourself. It gives you a goal. Perhaps one or two will leave the theatre thinking ‘if they can do it perhaps I could’.”

Having been part of a number of successful festive shows, Vicky is well aware of the challenges of facing possibly the most demanding audiences of them all.

“Oh, kids don’t miss a trick,” she said. “You should never underestimate them or play down to them.

“They don’t care that I’ve been on Coronation Street or whatever, they’re just bothered about what happens to Cinderella.

“Your job to make every single person in that theatre not take their eyes off you because you’ve got something to tell them; you are a storyteller.

“With Cinderella, a lot of them might already know the story as it is one of the most famous pantomimes of them all. I’ve never been in it before and I’d always fancied playing an ugly sister, but it being panto, men get to do that.”

At the Albert Halls, Gareth Mitchell and Garnon Davies play the Ugly Sisters; Kelly Aaron is Cinderella and Rollo is Buttons.

“It’s a lovely cast to be part of,” said Vicky. “It’s one of the reasons I love doing a pantomime. You get involved in another family at a special time of the year.”

Accrington-born Vicky lives in the Ribble Valley which means she can go home every night after the show.

“It’s a win, win for me,” she agreed.

She is also able to able to see husband Andy on a daily basis as he’s company manager for the show.

“I think we’ve done this six of seven times when I’ve been in a panto and he’s been on the production side,” she said. “It’s great because otherwise I’d be working and he’d either be sat at home or somewhere else in the country with a show.

“And the schedule this year isn’t too bad either. We get an early finish on Christmas Eve so that we can meet up with friends at night then we are off Christmas Day and don’t have an early start on Boxing Day - I’ve done a lot worse schedules that’s for sure.”

Given she’s a panto regular it’s no surprise to discover Vicky is a Christmas person.

“The tree went up dead early,” she said, “but it’s not that I’m desperate to get it up, I’m just being practical. I put all the decorations up before we started rehearsals because once we start working on the show I haven’t got time to get the tinsel out.”

So what does 2024 have in store?

“I’m waiting on a few things,” she said. “There are a few projects which might turn out to be quite exciting but nothing is set in stone as yet.

“I do enjoy TV but really I’m a theatre girl, nothing is more exciting.”

Cinderella is at the Albert Halls, Bolton, until December 31. Details from