For Strictly Come Dancing champion and former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach and ex Heartbeat and Casualty actor Jason Durr, the chance to play Miss Scarlett and Colonel Mustard in Cluedo 2 – The Next Chapter were roles they both simply couldn’t turn down.

The two stars will be heading to The Lowry in April as part of a major UK tour which marks the world premiere of this new play, based on the classic Hasbro boardgame. It has been written by BAFTA Award winning writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (the duo behind Birds of a Feather and the stage hit Dreamboats and Petticoats) and directed by the award winning Mark Bell.

It’s Ellie’s first theatre role after she shot to fame playing Faye Windass for 12 years in Coronation Street and then went on to win last year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Meanwhile Jason, who has starred in many TV roles and until recently as Nurse David Hide in Casualty, admits he has long harboured an ambition to return to his theatre roots.

Bury Times: Ellie Leach 
(Picture: Danielle Baguley)

“This is my first stage play and I am very excited to be playing Miss Scarlett,” said Ellie. “It is nerve-wracking as it’s something completely different to TV but I really want to push myself out of my comfort zone.

“A year ago, I would never have expected Strictly, then the Strictly arena tour and now Cluedo 2 to happen. I am so grateful as Miss Scarlett is such an iconic character to play.”

Adds Jason: “I have done an enormous amount of television but there is nothing quite like performing in front of a live audience and making people laugh.

Bury Times: Jason Durr

“I am looking forward to going back to my roots, acting on stage, and getting my funny bones going again in the form of this rip-roaring comedy.

“When I read the scripts for the first time, I was in a quiet coach on a train and I started hooting with laughter! A lady told me to be quiet but I couldn’t help but laugh throughout.

“It’s going to be phenomenal to bring comedy and a classic whodunnit to the stage where the audience get to be the detective.”

Both their roles have been reinvented to fit in with the new setting of the play in the rock and roll Sixties – something they are both hugely excited by.

“At first, Miss Scarlet seems like butter won’t melt,” said Ellie. “She is an interior designer and she seems very unassuming. But as the play develops, well….. people may not be quite what they seem. Cluedo is, after all, a thriller and murder mystery game!”

Like Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard is also hiding secrets. Jason said: “We are going to be reinventing the narrative. Rick Black is a rock star in the play and Mustard is his manager.

“Like Elvis had the Colonel, this chap has Mustard! He thinks he knows what he is doing but he doesn’t really.”

The icing on the cake, admit Ellie and Jason, is the chance to work alongside the show’s critically acclaimed director Mark Bell, who is also the director behind the global hit, The Play That Goes Wrong.

Jason said: “Mark is the past master at mishap and mayhem. This is the perfect tonic we need right now in the world we are living in.”

Bury Times: Cleudo 2 poster

Smiling, Mark insists it’s the play’s writers, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who should win all the praise. “I am a minor Viscount compared to their Highnesses,” he jokes before adding: “They are royalty and as soon as I met them, we hit it off. It’s a privilege to be working with them and this great new cast. It’s a new story with new twists and what I love is the fact Cluedo is such an important part of our culture.”

Indeed, for both the new stars of the play and Mark, the Cluedo boardgame represents such an iconic part of British heritage. It’s one of the reasons, says Mark, why the first Cluedo play proved to be such a big hit in its stage tour in 2022. “I played Cluedo as a child and I think it’s why we had such a fantastic audience response with the first Cluedo stage play,” Mark continues. “People enjoy seeing these characters come to life.”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve played Colonel Mustard,” jokes Jason. “I used to play him and the game as a kid. I grew up in Hong Kong and the one game we loved was Cluedo. I’ve introduced it to my children now too.”

Ellie says she loves how unique the characters are. “Everyone can define who all the characters are,” she said. “They are very distinctive.”

Ellie is drawing from her experience performing in front of thousands on her recent Strictly arena UK tour.

“All the cast have welcomed me with such open arms,” she said. “Thousands came to watch the Strictly tour and it did give me a sense of what it is like to perform in front of a live audience. It’s going to be also amazing to take on this new experience and do something different to TV, which is practically at the other end of the acting scale.

“Television is very naturalistic and on stage, everything happens a thousand times bigger. But that’s what is so exciting.”

Meanwhile, one of Mark’s goals is to focus on making sure the actors feel relaxed in their verbal and physical delivery of comedic moments ahead of the tour. And so now, with rehearsals underway, he reveals he’s already got a few tricks up his sleeve to make sure the actors don’t feel afraid being silly. “I like to start off each day of rehearsals with a silly game to warm up,” he says. “Putting on a comedy is far harder than a straight play because the comic timings have to look effortless.

“The jokes won’t work otherwise. For me, I never get bored of telling stories and structuring jokes so you get laughter. Shared laughter is so important and so one of my favourite improvisations with the actors is to run a pretend job interview. Only it gets sillier and sillier and by the end, they might be tap dancing whilst pretending to be a chicken!”

Touring around the UK can be tough and Ellie and Jason are planning to bring their families along to watch.

“It’s never great leaving home but you make it work,” admitted Jason. “My wife and children will definitely be coming to watch. It will be a chance for us to have a giggle. I think I look rather fetching in yellow!”

The Lowry will be a ‘home show’ for Manchester-born Ellie.

She said: “My family can’t wait to come and watch me in this show. Obviously after going on tour with Strictly, I have now had experience of living out of a suitcase and what is great about this show is I am going to be going back to acting again.

“I was known for many years as Faye Windass and as amazing as that was, it was then nice for people to find out more about me and my personality on Strictly.

“Now it’s going to be great to transform myself into a new character. I love how Cluedo 2 is perfect for everyone in the family and it is lovely how, thanks partly now to The Traitors too, people really enjoy murder mysteries!

“When I spoke to Mark about how the play felt a bit like The Traitors, he agreed. He said ‘yes, everyone is trying to suss everyone out!’ I can’t wait for everyone to come and watch it.”

What’s particularly exciting for both stars is that 2024 marks a very special landmark for the famous Hasbro boardgame – its 75th birthday.

“To be part of the 75th birthday celebrations is going to be exciting,” admits Jason. “I really hope we will make the audience laugh every time as we bring to life, live action versions of Cluedo’s famous characters on stage.”

Cluedo 2, The Lowry Salford Quays, Tuesday, April 2 to Saturday, April 6. Details from