Debra prepares for panto stardom

FROM Bad Girl to principal boy!Ex-Coronation Street star Debra Stephenson is to tread the boards of the Regent Theatre in this year's pantomime - Aladdin.

FROM Bad Girl to principal boy!

Ex-Coronation Street star Debra Stephenson is to tread the boards of the Regent Theatre in this year's pantomime - Aladdin.

Venue bosses announced the 35-year-old star, who will be taking the title role, will be joined by children's favourite Basil Brush as The Emperor of China.

Debra, who famously played psychotic Shell Dockley in the ITV prison drama Bad Girls and later Frankie Baldwin in Coronation Street, said: “Last year I was Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham so it will be a change of character to play Aladdin!

“It's one of my favourite roles and I'm delighted to be playing one of the most famous panto parts. I'll be singing in the show and introducing some of my new comedy impressions into the part as well.

“I've already had a conversation with my co-star Basil who plays the Emperor of China and were both looking forward to spending Christmas together in Ipswich. We'll both be in Ipswich in September to officially launch the production"

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Miss Stephenson is to follow in the footsteps of former Eastenders stars Anita Dobson and Letitia Dean who performed in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 pantomimes.

Produced by Duo Pantomimes in Association with Ipswich council, the show is expected to also include the traditional characters of Widow Twanky, Princess Jasmine and the evil Abanazer.

David Mansfield, the theatre's business development manager, said the production will also feature a flying carpet and a sparkling jewelled cave.

Mr Mansfield added: "Debra Stephenson will be a fantastic Aladdin. She has a great singing voice and audiences are in for a real treat.

“Basil Brush always lives up to his TV Superstar billing and together with a full supporting cast this year's panto is certain to be the must-see pantomime in Suffolk this Christmas.

“As always we have some special surprises lined up for the production and we are particularly excited about Aladdin's flying carpet!"

Judy Terry, Ipswich Borough Councillor with responsibility for the theatre, said: “This is very exciting news. Our pantomimes are proving extremely successful and it is a great opportunity to introduce young people to the theatre for the first time.”

The production runs from December 12 2008 to January 4 2009 with matinees and evening performances. Ticket prices start at just £8. There are also family and group discounts.

Are you a panto fan? Do you like Basil Brush? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

In a surprise move Basil Brush Tv Supersrtar contacted the evening star with a message for his young fans.

FROM THE DESK OF MR. BASIL BRUSH... (AKA The Emperor of China)

Hi there foxy fans,

Basil Brush 'ere!

I can't wait to meet you when I star in this year's panto at The Regent.

I play The Emperor, which means I'm the ruler of Peking - and seeing as I'm only 12" tall, I make a great ruler!! Boom Boom!!

I'll be singing and dancing, I do all my own choreography - you won't believe it - oh yes, this fox can boogie!

See you all soon, don't forget to book those tickets! Boom Boom!



Debra appeared on BBC Television's "Opportunity Knocks" in 1987, she was 14.

Her performance of the psychotic Dockley in Bad Girls earned her two consecutive nominations for Best Actress at the National Television Awards in 1999 and 2000.

Debra has also worked as a stand up comedienne at London's Comedy Store. She also did voices for Spitting Image.

At eighteen, she joined Manchester-based rave band, Rhythm Quest, as lead singer.

She trained as an actress at the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Drama.

In 2004 she joined Coronation Street playing Frankie Baldwin, the wife of Bradley Walsh's character, Danny.

Other TV appearances include "This Morning", " GMTV", "The Frank Skinner Show" "The Brian Conley Show", "Lilly Savage's Blankety Blank", "It's only TV but I like it" and "Stars in their Eyes Celebrity Special" which she won with an impersonation of Kylie Minogue.

She married builder James Duffield in June 1999. They have two children, Max, born on 26 November 2002, and Zoe Louise, born on 23 January 2007.