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16th June 2022

In conversation with Michelle Collins: Career, Covid and Cluedo

Jessica Hamilton interviews Michelle Collins, ahead of Cluedo arriving to the Lowry
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In conversation with Michelle Collins: Career, Covid and Cluedo
Photo: © Craig Sugden.

Last week, I had the chance to chat with TV legend Michelle Collins. Best known for her role as Cindy Beale in Eastenders, which she played for almost a decade, before moving to Coronation Street to play Stella Price.

When she’s not starring in soap operas, she turns her talents to the theatre, and this year she’s taken on the role of the iconic Miss Scarlett in Cluedo. The play, based on Hasbro’s murder-mystery board game, will visit the Lowry as part of its UK tour.

Adapting a board game into a play may seem difficult, but Michelle said Cluedo is “farcical” and “not your average murder mystery”, crediting director Mark Bell for the revamp. “It’s an ensemble piece directed by Mark Bell, who did The Play That Goes Wrong. There’s a lot of running around. It’s very fun and chaotic”.

She added, “It’s a brilliant set, which took a long time to be stylised”, and noted “There are a lot of doors to be opened” throughout the play .

Collins described audience reaction so far as very positive: “People are really taking to it… There’s been some very good audiences; it’s pure escapism and appeals to the whole family”. She credits the “very talented people” in the cast.

The play has been long anticipated, with lockdown massively affecting the entertainment industry. Collins said actors had to “get used to a different way of working” and that she was “excited to get back into theatre – I haven’t done it in so long”. Cluedo is a lengthy tour of six months, but Collins was happy to join as it gave her “the security of a six month job”.

Collins was drawn to Miss Scarlett because “she is a strong, independent woman”. She described the board game and the rest of the characters as “iconic” and said “I would play Miss Scarlett when I was a kid”. Though she’s had a lifetime to prepare for the role, Collins shared the difficulty of playing her: “It was hard to get into the character; I started much later than everybody else”. She admitted that “things do go wrong on set”. 

Collins is no stranger to challenging roles and has a long list of iconic characters behind her. She spoke of her journey to success as challenging, especially “for a working-class London girl who didn’t go to drama school”. She said her 18-year-old self had to “fight a lot and work hard” and, fortunately, “met a lot of people and took every opportunity”. 

Collins said she has always been “very determined… I couldn’t imagine, at 18, I’d still be working now”. Whilst she won’t let age define her, she addressed the difficulties of getting jobs as an older actress: “There’s a lack of consistency for women of a certain age in this industry”. Whilst Collins always sees herself in creative roles, she said “the hardest thing is sustaining it”. 

But if there’s one person that can overcome the obstacles of ageism, it’s Michelle Collins. When asked about her future projects, she said, “I’d want to work for the National Theatrel I’ve never worked for them before”. She would also “love to do more Tennesse Williams and produce my own play and own short film”. 

It’s clear she has a lot of momentum, and she’s not planning on slowing down!

Cluedo plays at the Lowry (Lyric Theatre) from 27th June until 2nd July. Are you ready to play?

Written by Jessica Hamilton

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