FORMER Eastenders actress Kellie Shirley returned to her Portadown roots this week when she made her first ever trip back ‘home’ to meet relatives.
Kellie, who is starring in a play in the Grand Opera House this week, is the daughter of former Portadown woman Micky Robinson.
She left Portadown at the age of 17 to work in England, and the trip with her daughter will be her first back to her home town in 20 years.
Kellie, who plays Pauline Clench, a dumb, blonde, East End gangster’s daughter in the National Theatre comedy ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ in Belfast, said she was “really excited “ about meeting her extended Irish family, most of whom she has never seen before.
She said, “My Uncle Bertie, who lives to Lisburn, comes over to visit us in England but I have nine aunts and uncle in Portadown I have never met. I am expecting it to be quite emotional.”
Kellie and her mum have several family meetings and trips planned, including one to the Giant’s Causeway, and needless to say her relatives also have some of the best seats in the house for the Grand Opera House show.
The 29-year-old, who grew up in London, played Carly Wicks in Eastenders between 2006 and 2008, and her character returned to the show earlier this year for a short spell.
Kellie first fell in love with acting after being taken to see a Rod and Emu show and ended up starring in the show when she was six.
She explained, “I have learned so much through acting, I get to go great places and do something I love.”
After the Belfast performance, the play, which counts Rufus Hound among its cast, will tour Blackpool, Norwich, Nottingham, Salford and Cardiff.
After taking a break to film ‘Run for Your Wife, a comedy starring Judy Dench, Kellie will rejoin the ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ cast for tours of Hong Kong and Australia.