THE PATRON of one of the borough’s theatre schools will soon be sashaying on the dancefloor after being picked for the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing contest.
Emma Barton, best-known for her role of Honey Mitchell in the soap opera EastEnders, is following in the footsteps of Wargrave resident Debbie McGee, who wowed audiences on the dancefloor in 2017.
And Ms Barton is also one of three patrons for Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow, which runs weekly classes in drama, dance and singing in Wargrave, Wokingham and Woodley.
Ms Barton said: “As possibly one of the biggest Strictly fans on the planet, I still can’t believe this is happening.
“I’m very much a dance around your handbag kinda girl, but now I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to learn all the different styles of dancing from the very best in the business. So, I’m whipping off Honey’s Minute Mart tabard and diving right into all the glitter and sparkle.
“From Albert Square to the Strictly dance floor – I just can’t wait!”
As well as many on-screen roles, Ms Barton also has a host of stage roles to her belt, including Roxie Hart in Chicago, Dolly in the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors; Vera in Doctor In The House; Lily in Annie; Marty in Grease; and Eileen in Over The Moon.
She is also a patron of Down’s Syndrome Association and Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association, and recently ran the London Marathon as one of Dame Barbara Windsor’s Revolutionaries, in aid of Dementia Revolution.
Steppin Out principal Shelley Otway was thrilled at the Strictly news – she had trained with Emma at the prestigious Guildford School of Acting along with the school’s other patron Tom Chambers.
In a post on social media, she said: “So excited that our fab patron Emma Barton will join the cast of Strictly this year. We will all be voting.”
Ms Otway added: “I spoke with Emma today and she said she is ‘incredibly excited but nervous about the Strictly challenge’.
Ms Barton added: “I think it is so important for children with an interest in performing to be encouraged, guided and enjoy every minute.
“All of these things are true of Steppin Out theatre school and this is why I love being a patron of these stars of tomorrow!”
The new series of Strictly will be aired on BBC One next month.