‘My first love was the stage’ Charlie Hardwick on returning to North East theatre

Charlie will be playing the role of Fairy Bon Bon in the Sunderland Empire’s Beauty and the Beast.

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North East television and film actress Charlie Hardwick, will make her triumphant return to pantomime, as she is set to star in the Sunderland Empire’s production of Beauty and The Beast.

Wallsend-born Charlie, has appeared in many notable North East television series and movies, such as; Byker Grove, Our Friends in the North, Purely Belter and Billy Elliot. 

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However, she is best known for playing the role of Val Pollard on the ITV soap Emmerdale, where she won multiple British Soap Awards. 

She is currently starring in the Channel 4 series Ackley Bridge, as Sue Carp.

Now, Charlie is set to make a return to live theatre, playing the role of Fairy Bon Bon in the Sunderland Empire’s 2023 pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, alongside the likes of Miss Rory and Tom Whalley.

We spoke to Charlie about her love for the North East, live theatre and how she is preparing for her upcoming performances.

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“It seems like a long time ago,” Charlie said of the last time she appeared in a pantomime. 

However, she clearly expresses excitement of all the glitz and glamour that a pantomime has, as she explains: “Performing in a magnificent theatre, with glitters, lights, music, dancers, comedians and Miss Rory! Well, that’s a pretty appealing way to spend your time.”

Speaking of her role as Fairy Bon Bon, Charlie laughed: “I’m a baddie! So I don’t know who has taken a leap of faith to put me in a goodie role. 

“I’m not sugary sweet, and I don’t know many women from the North East who are. So, this particular Bon Bon is going to have more than sherbet in her centre!

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“But she’s still on the side of goodness, of light and right as we all should be.

“I might get to do a bit of dancing though, and that will show my wicked side!”

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Charlie was also full of praise for her cast members, describing working with them as “an absolute delight”.

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“We all had a really good laugh when we first met. Everyone was really lovely. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them all better. In this job, they become your family.”

Charlie Hardwick as Fairy Bon Bon.Charlie Hardwick as Fairy Bon Bon.
Charlie Hardwick as Fairy Bon Bon.

Charlie then spoke of her love for the North East, and how it feels to be returning to perform in the region she grew up in. 

“It’s lovely. It’s like a football team playing at home.

“It’s really good to perform at home, and to speak to people who know your language and your nuances. 

When asked what the audience can expect from Charlie as Fairy Bon Bon, she said: “I hope that they will see me in my element, which is the stage.

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“I do mainly television and film now, but my first love and I suspect my last love will be being on the stage.”

For more information on the Sunderland Empire’s 2023 pantomime Beauty and The Beast, and to book tickets, please visit the ATG website.