Movie role for the girl from the till

She was just a typical A-level student, who was working part time at her local Woolworths store to help pay for her college studies.

She was just a typical A-level student, who was working part time at her local Woolworths store to help pay for her college studies.

But Ruby Wood has gone from selling movies to starring in one after being plucked from obscurity to play a major role in a new British film.

The 19-year-old spoke of her delight yesterday after a chance encounter with a film scout at the Woolworths tills led to a part in a powerful drama about the Morecambe Bay disaster

that left 23 Chinese cockle-picking immigrants dead nearly three years ago.

Despite being more than 250 miles away from the tragedy, much of Ghosts, which was released in cinemas yesterday, was filmed in and around her home town of Thetford.

The former performing arts student, who lives in Harebell Close, received the unexpected job when renowned documentary director Nick Broomfield and his film crew arrived in the town in October 2005 to tell the fictional six-month ordeal of a young mother who smuggles herself into Britain to

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find work and ends up at Morecambe Bay on the morning of February 5, 2004.

"I was on the till at Woolworths and

a lady approached me after I had finished serving her and said I looked like the right person for a new film being made in Thetford.

"I had four interviews and auditions and was really lucky to be chosen out of 800 applicants. It was so exciting when they called up to say that I got the part. I was gob-smacked. It is not everyday at Woolworths you get asked to star in a film," she said.

She was expecting to be an extra in the docudrama, which used a former council house in Glebe Close as the overcrowded residence of a group of Chinese men and women, who work in local fields and factories.

However, she spent four days on set and filmed 20 hours as a character called Maureen, who befriends the main female lead in the film, Ai Qin Lin, before she heads north for the lucrative cockle beds of Morecambe Bay.

"It was a brilliant experience because there was no script and it was all improvised. I sat drama at GCSE and did performing arts at A-level, but have never done anything like this," she said.

But the unassuming young woman, who has yet to see the final product, will not be letting the fame go to her head and had pledged to focus on her new job as a sales rep for the Corus steel distribution site at Brandon.

"I am happy with the job I am in and

I want to learn

my trade and work

my way into management, but it would be brilliant if other television and film work came up and I would definitely do it again," she said.

The controversial

film, which uses non- professional actors, including former illegal immigrants, and hand-held cameras to create an authentic look, has been criticised by Morecambe residents for stirring up bad memories, but

Miss Wood hopes the dramatisation will bring migrant worker issues to the fore.

She said: "I hope people become aware of what immigrants go through and the hardships they endure with bad jobs, long hours, and 15 to 25 people living in one house."