EX-EASTENDER Gillian Taylforth is waving her son off to a hospital appointment when I ring her to talk about her role in karaoke musical Girls’ Night, which comes to Leeds City Varieties next week, writes Trish Ellis.
Full of apologies, she explains: “He cut his thumb the other day and my older sister is taking him for an appointment to get it redressed. She’s looking after him while I’m away.”
Talking to Gillian, it quickly becomes apparent how important family is to her - and on this tour her sister, Kim Taylforth, is appearing alongside her in the show.
She said: “I get a bit of stage fright, so it’s really good having her there with me. I don’t like being away from home, but with my sister, ti’s really comfortable and we can share a room and it’s lovely. We have a laugh together.
“There are five of us in my family, and we are very, very close.”
Gillian and Kim also play sisters on stage, in Louise Roche’s popular show - also starring former Casualty actress Rebecca Wheatley - which follows four 40-something friends on a night out, along with their angelic companion, Sharon, who died aged 17 but has stayed with her friends, watching the ups and downs of their lives.
Gillian said: “My character, Carol, is a party animal, always up for a drink and a dance. She’s been married twice, divorced twice and is still on the look-out for Mr Right, while Kate, my sister’s character is married with two children and very prim and proper.”
While the sisters have acted together on TV before, this is the first time they’ve shared a stage and Gillian said it had been fun for all the cast: “It’s a brilliant team, it’s such a fun thing this show, and all the five of us get on really well. We’ve been sharing digs and we’re still talking!
“I did the show last year in Durham and really enjoyed it, and loved the singing and dancing - I was brought up on musicals. It’s a really good, fun show, you get such great feedback from people, there aren’t too many sitting down by the end of the show, they seem to really enjoy it, so we do too.
“It’s one of those really feelgood things, you come off stage on a wonderful high, you really do.”
For Gillian, best-known as Kathy Beale in EastEnders, along with dramatic roles in TV shows like Footballers’ Wives and The Bill, Girls’ Night presented some new challenges.
She said: “It’s the first time I’ve really done singing and dancing. Well, I like dancing and going to zumba and things like that and learning the routines was ok, once I got going.
“It’s the singing. I have a very deep, croaky voice. I say there’s four singers in the show and me, and guess which one of us has got the ballad - me!
“But I do my best and get through it. The others have got fantastic voices and I did feel at first ‘my God’, my voice being so deep, but they are so supportive and really helped me.”
Girls’ Night is at Leeds City Varieties from June 25 to 30, tickets cost £15-£22.50, available from www.cityvarieties.co.uk or 0113 243 0808.