Some of the best times of her life, says actor Michelle Collins, were spent in Glasgow, touring with a pop group and staying in a “cheap B&B” on Sauchiehall Street in the 1980s.

The stage and screen star, most famous for playing Cindy Beale in EastEnders and Stella Price in Coronation Street, was a backing singer with Mari Wilson and the Wilsations, and she has many fond memories of that period in her life.

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“There were about 12 of us in that B&B,” she laughs.

“And I’m not knocking cheap B&Bs, by the way. I’ve enjoyed staying in them more than some expensive hotels, let me tell you. I absolutely loved it. I learned a lot being in that band, playing all the student associations and clubs. It was a great experience.”

She is not planning a return to the music industry any time soon, however.

“God, no,” she exclaims, aghast.

“Can you imagine? No, I definitely don’t think so.”

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Michelle is back in Glasgow next week (July 4 to 9) to play Miss Scarlett in Cluedo, a stage version of the popular board game.

The spoof thriller, which also stars Daniel Casey of ITV's Midsummer Murders as Professor Plum, follows the iconic characters as they arrive at Boddy Manor on a dark and stormy evening.

They have all received the same intriguing invitation, and they all have something to hide. Mystery and hysteria build as one by one, guests and staff of the manor are bumped off with a variety of familiar weapons. So, was it Miss Scarlett in the dining room with the candlestick?

Glasgow Times:

Michelle laughs, she is not letting on, but explains: “We’re near the end of the tour now, and it has gone down really well.

"I think, coming out of the pandemic and still facing some big, big challenges in our lives, it’s just what we all need - pure escapism."

Miss Scarlett is “the least privileged and the most sensible” of the characters, says Michelle.

“I’m also loving getting dressed up every night,” she says, adding with a grin: “Although it’s hard work. I did a play once in which I had to wear a dressing gown all night, every night, and it was actually very liberating.”

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She adds: “I think people have come to see it because they’re intrigued to see how Cluedo has been turned into a play. Board games have become really popular again thanks to the pandemic. Whodunnits, too. They were considered a bit passe, I think, for a while, but they’re back now. Although this is not your typical whodunnit, it’s a quirkier version.”

Lockdown was particularly hard for Michelle, whose mum, Mary, died last year.

“I’d been looking after her, and she was very sick, with cancer,” she explains.

“She was doing okay, but in the second lockdown she fell quite ill and passed away. It was really hard, we were very close.

“It wasn’t easy for anyone, of course, being in lockdown.

"I lost a few jobs, helped out at my friend’s foodbank in Islington, just tried to keep going, really.

"I also staged a big fundraiser, which I’m really proud of. It was called For the Love of Arts and involved people like Sir Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Lesley Manville, and we have raised something like £80,000.”

Michelle was doing her A levels at college when she got her first acting job on the London Fringe, at Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre.

“Then I joined the band, toured with them for about 18 months, and did my first telly at 20,” she says.

“I didn’t go to drama school, I learned my craft working. I’m glad I did it that way. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’ve had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about not having gone to drama school, but I’ve been working since I was 18-years-old."

Michelle’s big TV break was opposite Gary Oldman in the BBC drama, Morgan’s Boy, and she was a regular in 80s shows such as Running Wild and Gems before she landed the role of Cindy Beale on EastEnders.

After her character was killed off, Michelle went on to play a string of TV roles on shows as diverse as Sunburn, Daylight Robbery and Scottish classic 2000 Acres of Sky, alongside Paul Kaye, Elaine C. Smith and Andy Gray.

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Michelle played Abby, a young mother of two who convinces her friend, Kenny, played by Kaye, to pretend to be her husband so she can move to a remote Scottish island which is in desperate need of families to save the local primary school from closing.

“I loved doing 2000 Acres of Sky, it was a great show and I met so many fantastic people,” she smiles.

“We filmed the exteriors at Port Logan, and the interiors in Maryhill. Lots of people ask why it’s never been repeated, I don’t know why.

“It was actually ahead of its time. That idea of leaving behind the city, moving to the countryside to have more space and time and build a new life is something lots of people are thinking about now, after the pandemic.”

She smiles: “I sometimes wonder if it was the worst decision I ever made, not doing any more of that show. Maybe it’s time to bring it back, what Abby did next…"

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Michelle has been working on two films, soon to be released. One is Stephen, which tackles issues surrounding addiction, and the second is a psychological thriller, Your House.

“I worked with Mirren Mack, who was on The Nest, on Your House, and she is an amazing actress,” she adds.

“Stephen is a bit different, too. It’s from a really interesting film-maker called Michelle Manchot.”

She pauses. “I’m busy, which is good. I think the pandemic changed my perception of life and what’s important. You value your family more, don’t you? And you realise how precious life is.

“It’s too short, really. You have to make the most of it.”

Cluedo is at the Theatre Royal from July 4 to 9.