Natalie Cassidy, who quit EastEnders earlier this year, has admitted that moving from screen to stage has been “petrifying”.

She is one of the stars in a touring version of The Vagina Monologues, which recently played to audiences in Newcastle, and will move on to venues in Hull and Lincoln.

“The first couple of nights I was petrified, but I’m learning to enjoy it and go with it,” she confesses. “It’s such a good piece. This is the first time I’ve ever played in a theatre, and every night my confidence grows.”

The acclaimed work couldn’t be further away from the world of Walford, and the subject matter gripped Natalie from the outset.

“Some of the tales are very funny, but others are less so,” she says. “In one segment, I play a girl who returned from a rape camp and tells her story of what the soldiers did to her. It’s terribly moving and hard-hitting.”

“It’s a great experience for me because my voice has got a bit lazy. After spending so long in television, I haven’t used it as much, so I know it needs a lot of work.”

She adds: “I loved EastEnders with all my heart. I was there for 12 years and I miss the people very much, but the work side of this has been amazing. I’m really enjoying it.”