The soap star who still makes time for bedtime stories

Angela Griffin is excited. The bubbly 33-year-old's zest for life is infectious.

And she has plenty to be excited about. It seems the Leeds-born actress has the Midas touch at the moment.

After rising to fame as hairdresser Fiona Middleton in Coronation Street, Angela proved that there was life after soaps, going on to star in Cutting It and most recently as teacher Kim Campbell in BBC drama Waterloo Road.

Now Sky1 has announced she is to have her own live daytime chat show, Angela and Friends. For 90 minutes every day, Angela and her three co-presenters will cover showbiz, lifestyle trends, viewer comments, features and special guests.

But the mother-of-two is no fool and remains well aware of the ephemeral nature of television.

"It goes in waves," says Angela. "You dip down for a bit and then it rises up and you end up doing three different jobs at the same time."

Looking back at her CV however, the dips in her career only seem to be self-imposed ones when she has taken time out to have her two children, Tallulah, five, and two-year-old Melissa.

Angela returned to Waterloo Road last year after a break for the birth of her second daughter, but the BBC show is filmed in Manchester and the hectic schedule has meant Angela being away from her husband and children for six months.

"The problem with Waterloo Road is that they film it on a rolling programme so there are

no breaks between each series," she explains.

"When I went back I managed to reconcile with myself that I would be away from my family during the week for six months, but I just couldn't do more than that. I am lucky that Angela and Friends has come along."

The new show, which starts in November, means Angela can become more of a "normal" mother.

"At the moment Tallulah knows that mummy is away for five sleeps and she understands that, but she is getting to the age when she wants me around more.

"For the first time ever I will take the children to school in the morning, go to work five days a week and then pick Tallulah up from after-school club. I'm really looking forward to it, but probably after four months it will drive me mad," she laughs.

Filming Waterloo Road has only been possible because of the support of her husband, Jason Milligan.

"He's the primary carer," says Angela. "He does the school and nursery pick-ups and drop-offs and helps with homework. They have him 100 per cent of the time."

While Angela misses her children terribly when she is away during the week, she knows her absence is not harming them.

"There's something my mum told me that I always remember. It is the quality of the time you spend with your children that's important, not the quantity.

"When I come home at the weekend it is their time. I am not doing the housework or anything; I dedicate my time to doing what they want to do as a family. It might be going to the park or reading a book; whatever they want. Not many parents can do that."

Angela finishes filming Waterloo Road in a couple of weeks and then starts getting ready for the new show, which will run for 19 weeks from next month. That's 95 lots of 90-minute live broadcasts to fill.

But she isn't daunted by the prospect of being herself on television.

"I've done it before," she says. "I love presenting and being me for a change rather than a character, although it can be difficult putting yourself up for criticism. Live telly doesn't really faze me either."

So who would her ideal guest be? She laughs.

"Denzel Washington," she says without hesitation. "But I don't think that's too likely just yet."

The show will be celebrity-based, but if Angela has anything to do with it it will be an intelligent programme as well.

Born the only daughter of three children to bus conductor Desmond Griffin and his wife Sheila, it was her mother who instilled a solid work ethic in the young Angela.

Her father left the family home when she was four and moved to Brooklyn, leaving three children to be brought up by Sheila and her new husband Wallace in Cottingley, south Leeds.

"My mum was a massive influence on my own parenting, but parenting does move on. She was reasonably strict but not ridiculous."

Angela was educated at Intake High School in Leeds but also joined the Leeds Children's Theatre and the South Leeds Youth theatre.

Her break came when she was spotted by a talent scout who visited her school. Angela made her television debut as Gail in Yorkshire Television's Under the Bedclothes and then played Zoe Ashton in three series of Just Us.

She left school at 16 with nine GCSEs and went to college to study A-level psychology. At the same time, Angela made an appearance in Emmerdale as Tina, a guest at the holiday village. She then auditioned for the role of Fiona Middleton in Coronation Street and made her screen debut on March 5, 1993. Soon the workload proved too much and she was forced to give up her studies.

But it seems that Tallulah has inherited her mother's brains.

"My mum taught us all to read before we started school," says Angela. "And I spend a lot of time reading with Tallulah. She's very bright and loves stories. She has a very vivid imagination.

"There's definitely an actress in her. But there's all the time in the world to be an actress. She's got 10 years to be a kid and I want her to be a kid."

Angela made a conscious decision to send Tallulah to a state school in London instead of opting for a private education.

"We didn't want that for Tallulah. She goes to a very average school but we love it and she loves it. It has a really wide range of people who go there.

"Anything weighted in one direction is wrong; it should be a good mix. I didn't want her going to a school where the pupils were 95 per cent white middle class. I wanted her to empathise with the world."

Her love of reading is one of the reasons that she agreed to be the face of the Learndirect campaign to get more parents reading to

their children.

The interactive online storybooks, called The Journey to Darkest Somewhere and The House of Scary Words, let children become the lead characters and allow them to change the plot as they go along. Written by award-winning children's author Peter Corey and illustrated by Charlotte Firmin, the books are available on Learndirect and are guaranteed to grab children's attention.

"The new online storybooks are brilliant," says Angela. "It's such a fantastic way for families to read and play together. Tallulah loves going on the computer, so it's a magical thing for her to have a storybook that's about her, where she can change the pictures, match words and do puzzles. It helps bring reading to life for her, and

for me."

Although education and talent are important, Angela is a believer in luck.

"I am dead lucky, but I also believe that you can make your own luck. Having a positive outlook in life is so important," she says.

"People are attracted to happy people and that's what I try to instill in Tallulah."

For more information on the Learndirect storybook visit www.wheredidtherivergo.co.uk