Sarah Cassells

Ahead of her acting debut in Calendar Girls, Charlie Dimmock tells Sarah Cassells why stage nudity doesn't faze her and what's so special about the Norwich shows.

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Ahead of her acting debut in Calendar Girls, Charlie Dimmock tells Sarah Cassells why stage nudity doesn't faze her and what's so special about the Norwich shows.

She's a gardening goddess, braless broadcaster, a former Redhead of the Year and published author, but now Charlie Dimmock is adding actress to her many titles.

After finding fame as one of the nation's favourite television gardeners, the Ground Force presenter makes her stage debut in the national tour of West End triumph Calendar Girls, which opens at Norwich Theatre Royal this month.

Taking on the role of Miss September, Charlie has every reason to put in a star performance while she's here as there will be a familiar face in the audience.

“I know my old director John Thornicroft and his partner are coming to a Norwich show,” she says. “That will be my last week so I hope by then I will be quite relaxed about it all.”

John, who lives near Diss, is sure to be impressed as he spotted Charlie's early potential. Her first TV appearance was installing a fish pond for ITV's Grass Roots programme in 1991 and, when the director launched Ground Force for BBC2 four years later, he remembered her and cast her alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh, both of whom Charlie is still good friends with - Alan, she says, “has threatened to” watch the play.

Calendar Girls isn't the first time Charlie's been to Norwich either. She's provided tips and amusing stories as part of a BBC Gardening Show panel hosted at the Theatre Royal and appeared at gardening shows at the Norfolk Showground.

“For me to get there [from her home in the New Forest] isn't easy, but once I am, it's lovely. I like Norfolk because it's nice and rural,” she says, praising the region's good variety of garden centres. While she's here, she hopes to check out some of Norfolk's open gardens featured in the National Garden Scheme's Yellow Book.

“The Yellow Book is really good because you can be quite nosy and voyeuristic,” she says. “You get to look at the average person's beautiful garden and see what they've worked on and get all sorts of clever ideas.”

Find out what else Charlie's looking forward to about visiting Norfolk in the July issue of EDP Norfolk, on sale now!

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