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Jemma Walker : Girls romp home on a day at the races

A group of four fish factory workers dump their hairnets and filleting knives to celebrate their friend's retirement with a blow-out at the races in a new show coming to the Key Theatre next week (September 25-27 2006).

A group of four fish factory workers dump their hairnets and filleting knives to celebrate their friend's retirement with a blow-out at the races in a new show coming to the Key Theatre next week (September 25-27 2006).Ladies' Day premiered last year at the Hull Truck Theatre, and received such a good response the company has decided to recruit the original cast and take it out on tour until December.

The Guide spoke to one of the stars, former EastEnder Jemma Walker who plays the glamorous Shelley, about the new production, and life on one of the country's most popular soaps.

She said: "I was a massive fan of EastEnders. I was brought up in Essex, so it was the one soap we watched."

Her character, Sasha Perkins, was a leggy dancer who started going out with market trader Adi Ferreira.

Jemma said: "I did four years of Family Affairs before, which was a great introduction into the world of camera work and stuff – I knew the way the machine of soap worked.

"In Family Affairs, my character (Siobhan Jones) was down and victimised, and trying to kill herself, so after four years of misery it was a lovely chance to play a lighter character.

"There were moments where it wasn't all hunky dory, but at the time there were lots of depressing and meaningful storylines going on, so it was nice to offer some light relief!"

She didn't miss the soaps though after five years of early mornings and 12-hour days.

She said: "I've had five years of soap now, there are other things I want to do. I love the theatre more than anything – and that is where I want to be. I can't see anything else that I can learn from another soap. You have to keep yourself challenged and keep up with the opportunities."

She first played Shelley at the famous Hull Truck theatre last June in a short run of Ladies' Day, written by Amanda Whittington, which broke the theatre's box office records.

Now the cast, which also features Annie Swale from Emmerdale and Heartbeat, Sue McCormack from Casualty and Coronation Street, Lucy Beaumont and Emmerdale's Martin Barrass, is back together for the tour, which was in Sheffield's Lyceum Theatre last week.

Jemma said: "It has been like going back to old friends and family.

"My character Shelley is a die-hard wannabe – she wants to be famous for something, but has no talent for anything.

"Outside, she comes across as very brash and sarcastic, but she is very vulnerable underneath it all. She's probably been hurt over time and has put her walls up to help her cope with life.

"She comes across as very hard and a little bit nasty – she has some brilliant put-downs! There are some lovely lines that I get to do!"

 

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