From teen star to wicked witch

STILL REACHING Tina Barrett left S Club 7 behind a now stars as the Wicked Witch at North Pier.
STILL REACHING Tina Barrett left S Club 7 behind a now stars as the Wicked Witch at North Pier.
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It must be a bit weird being part of a band which had four UK number one singles, a number one album, and starred in a TV show watched by 90 million viewers in 100 different countries … then waking up one day and discovering it’s all over.

That’s what happened to Tina Barrett, who lived the dream for five years with S Club 7.

“It was crazy, it really was,” said the 37-year-old, reflecting on those mad days when she was mobbed by over-enthusiastic fans at every airport she landed at.

“We were all young, fresh out of school, and nobody could have prepared us for how big and how mad it got.

“We got to go to Grammys and won Brit Awards, had our own movie, our own TV show we filmed in LA ... very surreal, and it was difficult when it ended because it had been my life.

“Everything was so planned and structured – we always had to be somewhere – and when you go back to reality, you think ‘oh my god what am I going to do now?’”

The answer was to take a bit of time out and recover from that mad period, then start a solo career and move into a spot of acting.

Which is what brings Tina to Blackpool. She is starring in North Pier’s Easter pantomime The Wizard of Oz, which is something of an experience for her because she’s not been to town before.

“I intend to have a look around the sights, and I’m looking forward to it because I know it has so much entertainment history,” the London-born girl said. “It is quite an in-your-face kind of place and I like that.

“Mind you, when I turned up for rehearsal at North Pier it was freezing cold, the rain was pouring and the sea was so rough… but I’m ready for it, and when the sun comes out it will be gorgeous I’m sure.”

In The Wizard of Oz, Tina plays the evil Wicked Witch. I ask if it’s a role which comes naturally.

“Yes. I am playing myself!” she jokes. “No, not at all. I’m going to have to dig deep and be mean – that will be hard for me because I am so lovely!

“I can’t wait because as a performer it is nice to do a bit of theatre. People might think it’s a bit odd for me to be in something that isn’t a musical, but it is still theatre in front of an audience, which is amazing. The kids love it and I like seeing them get involved.”

She added: “It won’t be boring, there is going to be fun and laughter, plenty of songs and you will be up on your seat dancing.

“If you’re in Blackpool, I’d say come along.”

Wizard of Oz, which also features former Eastenders star Melissa Suffield (Lucy Beale), is on at North Pier from Saturday, April 5 to Sunday, April 20. Tickets, priced £10, are available from www.northpierblackpool.co.uk or 01253 623 304, or Ticketmaster on 0844 847 2452.