Hollyoaks' bad girl Gemma Bissix on stage

TV ACTRESS Gemma Bissix grew up on the set of EastEnders after bagging the role of Clare Bates at the tender age of nine, then graduated to Hollyoaks, where she was villainous Clare Devine, writes LINDSAY WATLING. Now the bad girl of soap has decided to l

TV ACTRESS Gemma Bissix grew up on the set of EastEnders after bagging the role of Clare Bates at the tender age of nine, then graduated to Hollyoaks, where she was villainous Clare Devine, writes LINDSAY WATLING.

Now the bad girl of soap has decided to leave the safe haven of TV behind to experience the world of theatre.

Making her stage debut in the Bruce James production of Victor Leigh's A Game of Murder, which hits Ilford's Kenneth More Theatre on Thursday, November 5, Gemma is relishing the challenge of performing to a live audience.

"Being on stage is completely different to TV.


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"On stage, the rewards are instant. I thought it would be scary, but it's really exciting because something unexpected can happen at any point."

An incident where a bottle of tonic water exploded as she opened it during an earlier performance, was a great learning experience as far as Gemma is concerned.

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"I'm not saying that I want things to go wrong, but in theatre you have to work out how to deal with the unexpected, which is important."

Since her first stint on EastEnders, Gemma, 26, has enjoyed much success in her soap career, winning two British Soap Awards last year for her portrayal of bad girl Clare Devine in Hollyoaks, as well as an award for the most convincing villain in 2007.

Gemma talks very affectionately about her soap work and has fond memories of EastEnders, which she refers to as her "training".

She briefly returned to the soap last year but it is clear that, for now at least, she intends to focus on the stage.

"I'd like to do more theatre, but it's very difficult being a soap actress," she admits.

"I took the part because I want to get some good credentials so people in the business will take me seriously."

Based on true events in 1950s America, A Game of Murder is a sinister whodunnit which keeps the audience guessing until the end.

Gemma plays Ellen Marriot and director Bruce James has been very impressed.

He said: "Some TV actors are like fish out of water on stage, but she has made the transition very well."

Gemma and her co-stars, including Emmerdale's Charlie Kemp (who played Max King), will be at the Kenneth More Theatre until November 7.

Tickets are available from the box office on 020 8553 4466.

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