BLACKBURN-born actress Cat Simmons’ remarkable year continued last night when TV viewers saw her appearing on the Royal Variety Performance.

The Pleckgate High School educated performer, probably best known for playing DC Kezia Walker in four series of The Bill, is currently starring in London’s West End in the hit musical Come From Away.

The cast from the show which earlier this year picked up four Olivier Awards - the Oscars for UK theatre - including one for Best New Musical were invited to perform in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the London Palladium.

“The show was actually recorded in November and we had to rehearse for it on a Sunday,” said Cat. “It was a little surreal to turn up and find Robbie Williams going through his set on the stage before us.”

On the night, the cast performed a medley of songs from the show.

“It is quite a complex story and all 12 actors in the show play a variety of characters and none of us ever leaves the stage so were were wondering how we could condense that down for the Royal Variety Performance.”

Based on a true story, Come From Away looks at the impact on a small town in Newfoundland following the 9/11 attack which saw thousands of passengers stranded, effectively doubling the population of the town overnight.

“It’s not that well known a show even though it has proved to be so successful,” said Cat, whose main character Hannah has a son who was a firefighter in New York city. “So we did a short video which the audience saw ahead of our medley which helped put the songs into context.

“It worked out really well and I think we managed to pull it off,” she laughed.

The show was hosted by comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan and also featured Harry Connick Jr, Emeli Sandé and the cast of Mary Poppins.

“We were all looking forward to meeting Rod Stewart but unfortunately he was ill and had to pull out,” said Cat.