IT has been a pretty special festive season for actress Claire Sweeney who, for the past five weeks, has been calling the Lowry at Salford Quays home.

Claire is currently starring in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang alongside Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus and she admits she’s having a ball.

“It’s just an absolute joy to do this show,” she said, “it’s such fun.”

With the majority of Christmas shows and pantomimes having seen the curtain come down for the final time, the show which came to Manchester from London’s West End still has 10 days left to run.

In the musical story of the magical flying car, Claire plays Baroness Bomburst, the child-hating wife of the pompous Baron Bomburst, played by Phill Jupitus.

“Phill is lovely,” said Clair, “we are like an old married couple in some ways. We get on great.

Claire is quick to point out that the stage musical is very different from the classic film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

“My part in the film doesn’t really exist,” she said. “The character is featured much more in the stage version than in the movie.

“It’s a fabulous part, it’s crazy and I get the chance to go bonkers. And I also get the most fantastic dance routine which is definitely not in the film. It’s a wild samba choreographed by Stephen Mear which is wonderful.”

Although the show has been delighting audiences throughout the Christmas period, Claire hasn’t found the eight shows a week too demanding.

“It’s very different to doing a traditional panto which has made a nice change,” she said. “And even though we have been working hard, the schedule isn’t as heavy as with panto so it’s been a bit of light relief in a way.”

This has been the second time that Claire has been part of the Lowry’s big Christmas show - she starred in White Christmas which came to the theatre in 2012.

“This is my second Christmas season at the Lowry,” she said.

“When I was there last time I was praying to have a baby and now I’m going back there with my little boy which is so lovely.,” she said.

Claire’s son Jaxon is two and he’s become a big Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fan.

“He’s obsessed with the movie,” said Claire. “He sits in silence watching it.

“He’s used to me working now but one of the great things abut being at the Lowry is that I can commute from Liverpool so it is wonderful for Jaxon to be with all the family over Christmas.”

After its run in Salford ends next Sunday the show moves on to Bristol.

Claire said that she had a number of exciting opportunities for 2017.

“Nothing is definite yet so I don’t want to tempt fate but I’ve got a few good things in the pipeline both on TV and in the theatre.”she said.

Claire who made her name on Brookside before also becoming a West End star admits that both TV and theatre are very appealing.

“I like the fact that I can do both,” she said.

“I love live telly and theatre, they both have the same buzz I like that immediacy of them.”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Lowry, Salford Quays, until Sunday, January 15. Details from 0843 208 6000