It’s been a difficult year or two for actress Michelle Collins.
The former EastEnders and Coronation Street star lost her mum last April and like many in the industry, her work ground to a halt when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit.
Now Collins, who has also appeared in Casualty and Doctor Who, is on the road, playing Miss Scarlett in the UK tour of the new play Cluedo.
Based on the classic Hasbro detective board game loved by generations and the hit 1985 Paramount film Clue, the comedy thriller is being performed in Leeds and Sheffield in the coming weeks.
The story sees Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs Peacock, Reverend Green, Mrs White and Colonel Mustard arrive at a country house having received an intriguing invitation.
It soon becomes clear that they all have something to hide as the mystery and hysteria grows and the inhabitants and guests of the manor are killed off one by one, leaving audiences wondering whodunit - and who will be next.
“I’ll have to have my own take on Miss Scarlett but it’s really exciting to play someone who, like most women, has more going on than you see on the surface,” Collins, 59, says.
“She has a history. She’s very smart, looks glam and dressed up but she’s the smart cookie.”
As for the play, “it’s a comedy whodunit,” she says. “I’ve done a Miss Marple and everyone loves those.
“And it’s great to dress up in period clothes, 40s clothes. So glamorous!”
“It’s very funny, very dry, a little dark at times but ultimately great entertainment,” she adds.
“And I think it’s the perfect climate for something feel-good like this.
“The play is something for all the family, something everyone can enjoy after the couple of years we’ve had.”
Hers have certainly been tough.
‘My mum died. And a really good friend of mine died of Covid and I was quite ill for a while. It’s been horrible,” she says.
“But I feel like [mum’s] giving me her blessing because she always knew I was happiest when I was working. She would want me to push forward.”
Collins, who played Cindy Beale in EastEnders and Stella Price in Coronation Street, recalls playing the Cluedo board game as a child.
“Me and my sister would go and stay with my five cousins and we would all fight [to be Miss Scarlett] but because I’m the bossy one, I would always get it.” She laughs.
“I think because of lockdown people have gone back to board games, just to be together really.”
The last time Collins went out on a major tour like this was in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when her 25-year-old daughter was just a child.
“I’ve actually got friends in most of the places we’re visiting, so it will be fun to see them,” she says.
“Touring can be hard but you get used to living out of a suitcase.”
The UK premiere production is directed by Mark Bell, director of the award winning The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery.
Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, it promises audiences of all ages a nostalgic, fun and thrilling evening of entertainment.
Producer Josh Andrews says: “Both the game and Clue the movie, are much loved by all ages, so it’s a privilege to bring this new play of Cluedo to the UK stage.
“It could not be in more suitable hands than our director, Mark Bell.
““He certainly knows how to deliver a night full of great fun and entertainment.”
Cluedo is at Leeds Grand Theatre from March 22 to 27 and then at Sheffield Lyceum from May 23 to 28.
To book tickets, visit www.cluedostageplay.com
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.