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Hollyoaks actress Loui Batley - Lucky in life

PUBLISHED: 00:54 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013

Loui Batley

Loui Batley

Loui Batley went from the idyllic Lancashire countryside to a theatrical boot camp in the USA and it set her on the road to stardom. She talks to Alex Leigh

ON the television screen, Loui Batley's life is just one tear-jerker of a trauma after another. Her mum stole her boyfriend, another decided he was gay and man she really wanted fell for her best friend. The phrase 'unlucky in love' could have been made for her.

Away from the cameras, the life and times of the young woman who plays Sarah Barnes in Hollyoaks is a rather more serene affair, founded on the bedrock of an idyllic Lancashire childhood.

And it's a childhood that isn't long over. Loui is just 22, but it is only when her face is stripped of the heavy make-up seen in her television persona that reality dawns - she still has a lot of time on her side.

Loui's story starts near Chorley. She grew up in a beautiful cottage surrounded by acres of land where she played for hours with her older brother and their friends. She loved the fact that everyone knew each other and she counts the years she spent at Rivington Primary School as among the happiest of her life.

But even back then it was apparent that she was destined for big things and when she started attending Brenda Forward's School of Dance in Chorley at the age of seven. Her talent was spotted and she was quickly snapped up by a London agent.

'I used to practise in the week and then every weekend we would go all over the country competing at different events,' she explains from her Liverpool apartment. 'My agent used to send me for musical theatre auditions, which meant I had to learn to sing and act. I then started to go to acting lessons to help with my auditions and fell in love with it.'

Loui also started going for singing lessons at Heylings Music in Chorley and credits her teacher there with only a sparking her passion for singing but helping with her academic studies, too.

'My teacher was an old school all round teacher so in the middle of a singing lesson she would drift off into a history lesson or talk about art, then it was onto geography - she was amazing.'

Fast forward a few years and at the tender age of 15, Loui found herself flying over the Atlantic to attend Boston's Summer Theatre Festival for a month.

'It was scary,' she says. 'I had never flown alone before or been away from my family for such a long time. We rehearsed for three and a half weeks and then for the last few days did performances outside in a huge square in Boston city centre. It was fantastic.'

The following year she ended up on another plane to America, this time going to the Broadway Theatre Project. There, she survived just over a month of the theatre world's equivalent to boot-camp.

'The standard was just incredible. It was such a privilege to get a place there. We would have people like the actor Jeff Goldblum, Frank Wildhorn, who wrote Jekyll and Hyde: The musical, and Kander and Ebb, who wrote Chicago, giving us lectures.

'They went all over America finding people and I was the only British girl there. We would get up at 6am, walk over to the studios and start rehearsing at 7am. We would then rehearse until 8pm only breaking for a few minutes for a bit of lunch.

Then, we would go home for dinner and go back to rehearsing and finally finish at 1am. I don't know how they got away with it but I guess everyone there was so hungry for it that's all they wanted to do. But you can imagine how exhausted I was at the end of that!'

It was, ironically, that exhaustion that ultimately led to her bagging her role on the Channel 4 soap, Hollyoaks.

'I had just come back from my third summer with the Broadway theatre project and was actually living in London at that time as I had moved down to be nearer my agent and work as an actress.' Her first television job was a role on Julia Davies' award-winning Nighty Night and she was Portia in Jake's Progress.

'It was the year of the London bombings so my Mum was really nervous about me going back down anyway but she said to me "please, Loui, you are exhausted - stay home and get over your jet-lag and exhaustion." She then phoned up my agent making them promise her they wouldn't send me for any auditions in London until I had recovered.

'The next day they phoned up saying they had an audition for me in Liverpool, would I be interested? The day after that my Mum drove me over to the audition and in the car on the way home while we were having the usual post audition chat about how it went I got a phone call saying I had got the job - a year's contract with Hollyoaks!

'It was all such a whirlwind, it took a while for the news to sink in! Apparently, they had been looking for someone for a while for that role for a while so they had about ten scripts ready for me to do and wanted me to start straight away.

'I went for the audition on the Thursday, got my scripts and had my blonde hair dyed black on the Friday and started filming on the Monday. So my life changed almost overnight.'

Success at such and early age hasn't gone to Loui's head. Her ideal day out is still spent with her boyfriend and her dogs walking around Rivington Pike and visiting old friends for cups of tea.

For the foreseeable future she wants to carry on acting but she hopes to return one day to her Lancastrian roots, living in a country house with her dogs running around and for her children to be blessed with the same perfect start in life she experienced.

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