Most recently, Paula Lane was in the cast of Catherine Tyldesley’s debut play The Ceremony, which was streamed in December and before the pandemic, she’d been touring as Lauren on the Kinky Boots UK Tour. Paula portrayed Rachel in the theatre production of #BeMoreMartyn, which celebrated the life of Martyn Hett who lost his life in the Manchester Arena bombing. On screen, Paula is well-known for playing Kylie Platt in Coronation Street for a number of years before her character died in a stabbing and, alongside her husband Tom Shaw, she opened Lane Shaw Academy in Hebden Bridge five years ago. Answering our questions, Paula talks about working on The Ceremony, touring as Lauren in Kinky Boots and playing Kylie Platt in Coronation Street.
You recently performed in Catherine Tyldesley’s debut play The Ceremony which was streamed online, can you tell us about the show and what it was like to be part of?
Catherine wrote The Ceremony during the first lockdown. Donna Dium is a life coach and along with her assistant Ada and some Ayahuasca purchased from Bury market, they hold a ceremony for their four unlikely guests to purge their demons. It’s full of revelations, comedy and tears. Performing in the show was so much fun, after the year most of us have experienced being back on stage with the company felt so cathartic. All proceeds raised were donated to Acting for Others so it felt great to be helping others too!
How was it being involved with Northern Broadsides The Twelve Tales of Christmas?
Laurie Sansom, the Artistic Director from Northern Broadsides, called me and asked if I’d be up for reading the diary of Anne Lister for their Christmas podcast. Due to COVID, it involved me making a home recording studio from my children’s make-a-den kit with a tonne of cushions and recording at home! I loved speaking Anne’s words, some of her diary has been decoded and I loved the feeling of secretly sharing this with the audience.
Can you say about some of the other projects you’ve been working on during lockdown/COVID?
I’ve been writing a comedy with my husband Tom, we are constantly coming up with ideas and storylines. Lockdown has ignited a lot of creativity and I think it’s exciting venturing into different aspects of our industry.
What was it like playing Lauren on the Kinky Boots UK Tour and what drew you to the role?
I loved Lauren’s quirky side, I loved her comedy and spirit. Kinky Boots carries such an important message – just be who you want to be! I saw the joy it brought to our audiences who were on their feet every night. I had never toured before and thought what an amazing opportunity to travel whilst performing.
Do you have any stand-out moments from your time touring in the show?
Performing at Manchester’s Opera House on press night was really special, a lot of my friends and family came to support me. I loved showing my children backstage and introducing them to new theatres. We had the most amazing Christmas as a family in Edinburgh.
You portrayed Rachel in #BeMoreMartyn, what was the show like to be part of?
I felt really honoured to play Rachel, we had limited rehearsal time and threw ourselves into the action. The company had worked on a slightly different version prior to my arrival but they welcomed me with open arms. Martyn was such a huge Corrie fan and it felt like the perfect way of sharing his humour and message.
How was it seeing the response to the celebration of the life of Martyn Hett?
The play is Verbatim and we were speaking directly to our audience. Witnessing them laugh through their tears was very emotional – I think it brought a lot of happy memories to his loved ones and also a new way of thinking to people who had never got the chance to meet Martyn.
You played Kylie Platt for a number of years in Coronation Street, what do you miss most about playing the character?
I miss her feisty, ever young style! I loved the Platts who were my second family – I miss our giggle fits.
How was the experience working on the live episode where Kylie killed Callum?
My heart has never beat so fast – pure adrenaline. I’ll never forget running with Jack P Shepherd to get to another location with twenty seconds to spare!
Can you tell us about some of your earlier acting roles which have included Heartbeat and The Royal?
When I left drama school I was extremely lucky to land television roles early on. I learnt quickly on the job to knuckle down and deliver. My first job in The Royal was with Prunella Scales and I played Geraldine, a girl guide of sixteen – in real life I was twenty-three! Heartbeat was a large guest role and I played a teacher called Wendy – I had a very dramatic scene involving a gun!
What are some of your career highlights so far?
I filmed Going Postal in Budapest, David Suchet and I had a stunt where he dangles me from a tower. I was so scared and it was uncomfortable but I was so utterly starstruck I didn’t dare complain! The 50th Corrie Tram Crash live ep was my return to the Cobbles after my initial introduction as Kylie – I felt like such a villain. The live ep when Kylie killed Callum was intense – hitting marks and cues at exactly the right point was PRESSURE. Filming Kylie’s death was really special, the cast and crew all came together and I’ll never forget the silence on set.
What was it like opening Lane Shaw Academy with your husband Tom Shaw and can you say more about the academy?
We opened five years ago in our hometown of Hebden Bridge. We pride ourselves on being working professionals and passing on our knowledge and skills. I love the fact that we have grown and adapted the academy from scratch – we know what works! We usually perform a couple of showcases a year but the last year has forced us to move online at times when we can’t physically be together.
What are some of your favourite TV and theatre shows to watch?
I’m quite enjoying The Serpent and I’m currently on the last episode of The Crown. I love it when a show just grips you and offers an hour of escapism. I watched the whole of Bridgerton in two days as I was away from home filming. I don’t get to the theatre as much as I should but I love a musical and I enjoy theatre that leaves a mark and makes you ask questions.
How has it been getting back to filming and acting work since the pandemic began?
It’s been a very challenging time – in a very strange way I embraced the silence. I’m lucky to have landed a role in Call The Midwife and have just finished filming – working under COVID restrictions was strange but it amazes me just how resilient our industry is.
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