Based on the smash-hit, critically acclaimed BBC One drama of the same name, The Syndicate visits Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 8 – Sat 11 May 2024 as part of its premiere UK tour. For actresses Samantha Giles and Brooke Vincent, the chance to work on a Kay Mellor production was too good an opportunity to miss…

Brooke, who became a household name playing Sophie Webster in the ITV soap Coronation Street from 2004 to 2019, says landing the role of Amy in the UK tour of The Syndicate was a real thrill: “I’ve taken a step back to have my two boys, so this is my return to acting and I’m so excited. I love Kay’s work, it’s so real and there’s such a sense of warm northern humour that I just adore.”

Meanwhile Samantha was looking for a new challenge after recently leaving her hugely successful role as Bernice Blackstock in Emmerdale, where she entertained fans on and off over the last 26 years.

Bringing three generations of the Mellor family together, The Syndicate sees Kay’s daughter Gaynor Faye making her directorial debut, as well as starring alongside her son Oliver Anthony. The star cast also includes Brooke Vincent (Coronation Street) and Samantha Giles (Emmerdale).

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Talking about her role in The Syndicate as kind-hearted worker Denise, Samantha says: “A lot of people are only used to seeing me as Bernice, who is this glamorous person and Denise is the polar opposite! She’s a bit on the frumpy side, life hasn’t been so good to her, she’s just totally different to Bernice which is so lovely to play.”

Samantha shares why she thinks Kay Mellor’s writing is so good; “She’s able to create real stories and wonderful characters that people can relate to and reflect how ordinary people live.”

Samantha and Brooke are veterans of drama having navigated the fast pace of soap-land for years, so taking to the stage in front of a live audience should be a walk in the park. Brooke laughs, “No, of course I’ll be nervous! The way I deal with it is to face the fear anyway!”

Samantha agrees, “It’s been 14 years since I’ve done a play, so I am feeling nervous. Nerves are good and I think the more we do it, the more confident we get. I just think you can’t beat live theatre; hearing the reaction from the audience and having that shared experience, there’s nothing like it.”

She enjoys being part of a team, “You all have a part to play to bring the show to life and you just need to feed off that.”

Their admission of nerves will come as welcome relief to their co-star and Gaynor’s son Oliver Anthony.

While he’s no stranger to The Syndicate, having starred in series four of the BBC drama, he is making his theatre debut in the role of Jamie. He says: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but that’s just because I want to make Kay proud.”

“I’ve been a part of this story since she adapted it into a theatre script. I played the role of Jamie in the development workshops of the play and actually read the part in the auditions for many of these other amazing actors. So to then be on the other side of the auditioning process as an actor, and get the part, is incredible. Now I really want to prove I deserve my place in the show and give it my best shot, I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands.”

Oliver explains more about his character Jamie, “He’s very three dimensional, he’s got a switch in him which can make him villainous, and that’s always amazing to play as an actor, but he’s also got a real sense of love and connection with his brother. I love that he’s brash, but he gets away with it because he’s always got a cheeky smile and a glint in his eye!”

For Brooke taking on the role of Amy has been a delight: “She’s more Rosie Webster than Sophie Webster! I’ve never played a dolly bird before; she even comes out with hair extensions! I’m such a tom boy in real life so that’s been great to take on, I love that Amy is so different to me. I’ve never played a character like this before.”

Samantha adds: “Denise is quite mumsy at the start, always putting everybody else before herself and it’s interesting to see the change that happens during the course of the play, especially when she gets her hands on the money!”

The appeal of The Syndicate is that there won’t be a theatregoer anywhere in the UK who hasn’t dreamt of winning the lottery, how they would react if their numbers came up and, of course, what they would spend their winnings on.

“This play is a reminder to be careful what you wish for.” Samantha adds, “With money comes greed and then a sense of desperation about what you’re willing to do to keep it.”

For theatre newcomer Oliver the UK tour may seem a daunting schedule; luckily, he’s got an experienced cast, including his mum Gaynor, to turn to for advice. As well as directing the production, Gaynor is set to join the stars on stage, playing the role of the lottery representative, who, in honour of her mum, she has called, ‘Kay’.

While some might not like working with their parents, for Oliver it’s a chance to learn from the best; “She’s an amazing actress and is absolutely killing it in her directing role, so to be able to work alongside her and learn from her is an utter privilege. I feel very lucky to have someone of her experience and talent coaching me through this. I really want to make her proud.”

The Syndicate plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 8 – Sat 11 May 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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