<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Soap star Jacqueline Leonard set to play Maleficent at Preston Guild Hall

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 20:06 02 November 2017

Jacqueline Leonard as Maleficent

Jacqueline Leonard as Maleficent


Freckleton’s Jacqueline Leonard has swapped Weatherfield for Preston as she hits the stage in panto this month. Emma Mayoh reports

Jacqueline Leonard Jacqueline Leonard

Jacqueline Leonard’s first panto experience was unforgettable. While doing a press call for Robin Hood – where she was playing the lead role - the unexpected happened.

‘It was all a bit embarrassing,’ she said. ‘We were on the beach. I was on a horse and when I got on it, it bolted off down the beach. I couldn’t stop it. My biggest fear was falling off. I must have looked funny and it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

‘But it was my first panto and it was brilliant. I had the most fantastic time. That first one, even including the horse running away with me, has given me some happy memories.’

The experience hasn’t dimmed her enthusiasm for the Christmas and New Year tradition. This month she will hit the stage at Preston’s Guild Hall as Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. She will be joined by friend and comedian Phil Walker, who has written and directed the popular show, as well as Phoenix Nights star Archie Kelly and Newsround presenter Hayley Hassall. She was asked by Phil, who lives in Lytham, to take part in the show.

Jacqueline Leonard Jacqueline Leonard

Jacqueline, who was born in Blackpool, said: ‘He said it was going to be a small show with a few actors and would I like to do it. It sounded like a really good idea. Being able to do a show in my local area is fantastic. It’s special to be able to take part in something special that is close to home.

‘I’m really looking forward to playing an evil witch. It’s always more fun to play the bad characters. It’s good fun playing to children too. I just frighten them to death. It will be good. You can have lots of fun with it. I’ve got a great part to play, a brilliant costume and some great audiences to look forward to playing to. What’s not to be excited about?’

Jacqueline, a former Greenlands High School pupil who turned 50 last month, only decided she wanted to become an actor after seeing some theatre in London as a child.

She said: ‘I’d always wanted to go to art college. Acting had never really come into my thoughts. But I saw some theatre shows for the first time in London. I came back and I knew I wanted to be an actress.

Jacqueline Leonard Jacqueline Leonard

‘I was so lucky because I started going to Whitaker Dance and Drama Centre in Blackpool. Jack Ganley, one of the tutors, was the best drama teacher in the world. I was lucky to have him there to teach me. It made me so enthusiastic about acting.’

Jacqueline, who lives in a converted pub in Freckleton with husband Alex and 12-year-old daughter Aleisha, is now one of the staples of British programming. She has appeared in several high profile dramas and soaps including Peak Practice, Eastenders and Doctors and Coronation Street. She has also appeared on stage in iconic shows including The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Clockwork Orange and Wuthering Heights and acted alongside industry heavyweights including the late John Thaw.

‘I’ve been very lucky to work with incredible people,’ she said ‘John Thaw was amazing. It was quite early on in my career and he really helped me. He was really nice to me, really approachable and gave me lots of tips. He was inspirational.’

The talented actress, who has spent a lot of time working away from her native Lancashire, is looking forward to Christmas at home with her family.

She said: ‘I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. I’ll be able to have lots of fun acting in Sleeping Beauty which will be brilliant.

‘But I’ll also be able to be at home with my family, which is so precious to me. I’ll have the best of both worlds. I’m very excited.’ w

Sleeping Beauty runs from Monday, December 7th until Saturday, January 2nd. For more information or to book tickets visit www.prestonguildhall.com


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Tue, 00:00

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, January 8, 2018

This proud Lancashire town is shaking off the impact of recession and looking forward to a brighter future, writes Angela Kelly

Read more

History is all around you in Cockermouth, but the town has a bustling present and an exciting future too.

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Stonyhurst College houses the oldest surviving museum collection in the English speaking world.

Roger Borrell reports

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Whether you’re horse crazy or just along for the ride, equine related events are an important part of the social calendar

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The 50th anniversary of this unique Bolton theatre will involve the creation of a new centre for the performing arts. Angela Kelly reports

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It’s been an action packed year in Lancashire, how much of it can you remember?

Read more
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Usually when we are talking about new sightings of birds in Lancashire, we are referring to the ‘little brown jobs’, which are difficult to recognise.

Read more
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

John Lenehan crosses the paths of witches and Romans in a spectaular walk that’s perfect for a dry winter’s day

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas seems even more appealing in a beautiful rural location, as Mike Glover and photographer Sandy Kitchin discovered

Read more
Grasmere Christmas
Thursday, November 30, 2017

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Christmas Quiz
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search