FOR many people Charlie Brooks will always be TV super bitch Janine Butcher and even the actress herself admits that she may never shake off her association with EastEnders.

“I don’t think I will ever get to point be able to put Janine behind me but I’m trying,” she laughed. “I’m fighting my way out of it slowly but surely.

“She was a big part of my career so I wouldn’t want to forget her but it’s just nice to have the opportunity to have different things.”

Having decided to leave the TV soap in 2014 - Janine left Walford for France after being acquitted of the murder of Michael Moon - Charlie has enjoyed some major success on stage.

Her latest role sees her heading to the Lowry, Salford Quays, for Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Half Loves which opens on Monday.

The comedy about the lives and loves of three couples is told over the course of two dinner parties.

“It’s a very fun show to do and we have an amazing cast so feel you are in good hands,” said Charlie.

As with any Alan Ayckbourn play the script places great demands on the cast.

“There is so much content,” said Charlie. “It’s like a complicated dance where we’ve learned the routine and now we’re just fine tuning the moves.

“I think when we started rehearsals all of us were a little unsure as to how it was going to work but about halfway through rehearsals it all suddenly made sense.”

The show opened in Windsor last week to great reviews.

“It is a relief to open and see the response from the audience,” said Charlie. “The show does change when you put it in front of an audience - they are the other cast member in a way.”

Janine’s co-star in the production is another former soap star, Coronation Street’s Leon Ockenden.

“Leon is great,” said Charlie. “He’s very enthusiastic and lovely.”

The production also stars Robert Daws, best known for The Royal, Caroline Langrishe, Matthew Cottle and Sara Crowe.

“You have to trust each other as you are putting your lives in each other’s hands every night,” said Charlie. “But everyone is so good it makes your job easier.”

Charlie has no regrets at moving away from TV for the theatre.

“I feel like I learn so much more doing theatre than TV,” she said. “I find it more rewarding - not financially obviously- but creatively.”

Among the parts Charlie has played in the theatre was the role of Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

“That was the biggest challenge of my life apart from parenting,” she said. “I was exhausted every night but it was worth it. With a production like that you have to put your everything into it and I did that.

“This current show is challenging in a different but it is a comedy and it is really funny so you can have some real fun with it

“I’ve been blessed with some really great plays since I left EastEnders. I feel I’m really finding my feet in the theatre and hopefully be at the National one day soon. I’m getting there.”

So would she consider taking Janine back to Albert Square?

“Not at the moment, no,” she said. “Who knows in the future but not at the moment - life in France is good right now!”

How the Other Half Loves, the Lowry, Salford Quays. Monday, September 11 to Saturday, September 16. Details from 0843 208 6005 or