A TV star (no kidneying)

Elizabeth Henstridge (left)in Hollyoaks with Claire Cooper
Elizabeth Henstridge (left)in Hollyoaks with Claire Cooper
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IT claims to be the most glamorous soap on British TV.

But when Sheffield actress Elizabeth Henstridge starred in Hollyoaks recently she was left feeling a little less than gorgeous.

The 23-year-old former Meadowhead School pupil is currently making something of a name for herself with turns in critically acclaimed independent films Tooting Broadway and Light Upon Dark.

But it is from the popular Channel Four show that perhaps most people might recognise her where she plays Emily Alexander – a character who arrived in the soap last week in need of a kidney transplant.

“I got told to turn up early on my first day for make-up,” laughs Elizabeth, who grew up in Meersbrook and Dronfield. “I assumed it would all be very glam and I’d probably be in there for a couple of hours.

“The artist told me to wash off what I was already wearing and I did. Then she powdered my lips, and that was it. I was sent on my way.

“The thing was, because I was ill in the show they didn’t want me wearing any make-up, so all the other girls were in there for ages, and I spent literally two minutes.

“It was quite funny – but, of course, it makes sense.”

Elizabeth’s plot line, then, involved arriving in the soap to ask half sister Jacqui McQueen, played by Wakefield lass Claire Cooper, for a kidney.

Jacqui has tests to see if she’s a match but isn’t. Elizabeth leaves.

“Well, yeah,” she says today down the phone from her West London base. “It sounds quite random when you say it like that but when you watch, it’s good – it makes more sense.

“What’s good is they seemed quite positive about the role and I’d love to go back so I’m hoping the character worked and maybe they’ll want me again.

“It was so much fun on set. I was a little intimidated because you’re looking at some of the older characters and thinking ‘I use to watch you when I was at school. You’ve been in my living room and not even known it’ but everyone’s so friendly they put you at ease straight away.

“And it’s recorded in Liverpool so it was nice to be up north again. I’m a total northern girl at heart. I definitely think I’ll move back to Sheffield at some point.”

Fame hasn’t quite struck yet, though. Since her appearance she hasn’t been stopped in the supermarket or asked for an autograph by giddy teenage boys – “but then if I was, that would be quite insulting,” she laughs.

“I was playing someone who was really ill and pale so I’m not sure being recognised would be a compliment.”

The role was perhaps her biggest to date but she still reckons playing Hermia in a Meadowhead production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Crucible was the role that changed her life.

“That was it, I was gone” she says. “I knew then I wanted to be an actress.

“My drama teachers at Meadowhead were all so great and I can’t thank them enough.”

After leaving at 18 she studied drama at Birmingham University before doing an MA at East 15 Acting School in London.

Now she’s hoping to use the Hollyoaks bounce to get more roles in film and TV – and hopefully on stage.

“I suppose I’m like a lot of actresses,” she says. “I’d love to do Shakespeare in London.

“His play are just the ultimate, you know? He was a dude. He did all right for himself.”