SHE was off to buy a “new frock” when I phoned to speak with Sue Nicholls, aka Coronation Street’s veteran crimper Audrey Roberts.

She wants to look the part, she tells me, when she presents (as herself) A Night At The Oscars event at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

“I won’t feel prepared until I have the right dress,” she laughs. “I tried on some in my wardrobe which I wore to the last grand event I attended. I must say it was some time ago and they don’t fit any more, much to my disappointment.

“I’m really looking forward to the evening. I love the Bridgewater Hall and I l rarely get the opportunity to do anything other than Corrie because of the filming timetable.”

The one thing that strikes you most about the Honourable Susan Frances Harmar Nicholls, to use her full title, is her well-spoken accent, which so far removed from her broad Manchester "Audrey voice."

I mention this and she immediately slips into character.

“Oh Marie love, what are we going to do with ya” and, as quickly as she morphed into it, she returns to her own voice to tell me about A Night At The Oscars.

“It’s an evening of iconic movie music and it’s all the classics that I love. I’ll be boring the audience with some little anecdotes of my own, too.”

A Night at the Oscars celebrates the magic of cinema with a vast selection of award-winning themes spanning six decades of classic films, from The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter. Sue will guide the audience on a cinematic adventure joined by the Manchester Concert Orchestra.

Sue added: “Don’t worry. I won’t be singing.”

She’s being very modest here. Her singing wouldn’t be such a bad thing, for Sue had a Top 20 hit in 1968 with Where Will You Be, which was the theme tune from Crossroads and remained in the top 75 for eight weeks. It was recorded during the time Sue was in the Midlands soap, where she made her TV debut playing warbling-waitress Marilyn Gates.

And it is from that part of the country that Sue originates — she can do that accent as well.

“Hello everyone at the Bridgewater Hall,” she says in a Brummie intonation. “Maybe I could do the entire show that way. I wonder if anyone would believe my actual voice.”

Sue’s Manchester second self, Audrey Roberts, is one of the longest-running soap characters on the telly.

For a time her husband, Mark Eden, acted alongside her, playing Alan Bradley. Audrey has featured as Gail Platt’s mother for 30 years and on a permanent basis since 1984. And she is still loving every minute, she said.

“It sounds so clichéd but we are all such a big happy family. Sometimes you spend more time with them than your actual family, so they become your support network. Many of the friends I’ve made on Corrie have helped through my personal ups and downs.”

Over the years, Audrey has mellowed from a social climber to a more sympathetic character and Sue admits she prefers her this way.

“I think as I’ve mellowed with age, so has Audrey. I’m a vino and slippers girl when I’m at home and so it’s nice to be more calm in character also. After all, she is a grandma now.

“I do like doing tough storylines from time to time, though, to prove I can still do it. Christmas is going to really hot up with the Tony Connor business but I don’t even know what happens yet, which is quite fun.”

“The hours are long and so you have to enjoy your work. I like being Audrey. I don’t have to worry about the real world and normal things like going to the bank, which come as a bit of a shock on my days off!”

l A Night At The Oscars — Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, October 18. Tickets from box office on 0161 907 9000 or online