Susie Blake is known for making people laugh. Her numerous TV roles range from the announcer on Victoria Wood As Seen on TV to her most recent appearances on Mrs Brown’s Boys.

But when she comes to The Lowry next week in Murder in the Dark she’s as likely to have audience members jumping out of their seats as they are to laugh along.

Lancashire Telegraph: Murder in the Dark (Picture: Pamela Raith)

Part thriller, part horror story, Murder in the Dark sees a troubled singer - played by Tom Chambers - arriving on the doorstep of an isolated farmhouse with his family following a car crash.

Susie plays Mrs Bateman, the seemingly friendly farmer’s wife.

“What I love about this production is that it’s a little bit different,” said Susie. “It’s quirky and not entirely what the audience is expecting.

“They may come expecting a thriller but it’s more of a psychological horror but then it’s also very funny too - well I’m in it so I suppose there would be a few laughs along the way.

“But my character is strange. It’s got everything as far as I’m concerned - it’s a lovely part.”

Audiences coming along to see the comedy Susie are certainly in for a shock.

“Oh, Mrs Bateman’s complicated,” she laughed. “They genuinely don’t quite know what to make of her - is she good or is she evil? It’s hard to tell.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Susie Blake in Murder in the Dark (Picture: Pamela Raith)

Murder in the Dark, written by Torben Betts, is part of a new generation of shows such as 2:22 A Ghost Story which leave audiences scared as well as entertained.

“It’s a production which does surprise people,” said Susie. “It’s also quite complicated but you can’t say too much about it without giving things away.

“But it does seem to work on different levels. I have some academic friends who have seen it and they found it intriguing and I’ve other friends who are definitely not academics who loved it too.

“I know quite a lot of people have come back to see it again.”

Susie is relishing the challenge of playing a complex character.

“It’s fun because it is so challenging,” she said. “You can’t take your foot off for a moment. I can lull the audience into a false sense of security which is particularly satisfying. But I can’t do anything that I’d do if it were a comedy. I can’t do any asides or any tricks.

Lancashire Telegraph: Murder in the Dark (Picture: Pamela Raith)

“Whenever you are involved in fear or horror it has to be convincing otherwise it just comes over as being ridiculous.

“We have some wonderful lighting and sound effects which really add to the atmosphere. That’s the great thing about the theatre. It’s all there in front of you and you should never underestimate the effect it has on the audience.”

Murder in the Dark has been attracting audiences of all ages as it tours the country. The show carries an age guidance warning of 14-plus.

“When you have younger audiences in they are so vocal,” said Suzie. “It’s when they all scream out loud that you realise what everyone else is experiencing but are too polite to vocalise it.

“We love it when we hear a few screams or gasps.

“It’s also interesting when you visit different venues. Audience will react differently to different parts of the play - they even react differently on different nights in the same venue which is a really interesting thing to experience as an actor.

“It means you can’t prejudge anything. It’s a bit of a cliché but you really do just have to play the truth and let the audience experience it in their own way.”

Susie’s CV includes some of the best TV comedy shows over the past 40 years starting off with Russ Abbott’s Madhouse to One Foot in the Grave and Not Going Out. She’s also know for her role as Bev Unwin on Coronation Street.

But talking to her, you suspect that theatre remains her first love.

“Oh definitely,” she said. “We had a bit of a reunion at Lamda where I studied and someone said ‘ if we cut you open theatre would be written right through you’ and I was so touched by that.

“I’m never happier than when I’m rehearsing or on stage. We had a break from touring Murder in the Dark over Christmas and I had a wonderful time in Australia but I couldn’t wait to get back to rehearsals again. It makes me feel 10 years younger.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love doing TV but on TV you don’t have the same responsibility. In the theatre it is up to the actor what grabs the audience and as that be different each night. In TV, the director chooses what the audience sees.”

Given that she’s helping terrify audiences on a nightly basis, does Susie like horror and psychological thrillers?

“Oh no, I really don’t like horror films,” she said. “When Jaws came out I went with my boyfriend at the time who had already seen it and I told him he had to nudge me to warn me about any scary bits in that.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Murder in the Dark (Picture: Pamela Raith)

So would she not want to go and see Murder in the Dark as an audience member?

“Actually I would like to see it. For a start it’s not a film so you are invested in the characters. Plus I think it’s got a good cast who people would like to see and it’s also funny too. It’s got everything you want for a night out at the theatre.”

Susie will be returning to The Lowry for the first time since she appeared in the Wizard of Oz at the theatre in 2005.

“It was just after I left Coronation Street so I still had a flat there. I could walk to the theatre every night.

“But I love The Lowry and I love Manchester too. I have so many fond memories - it’ll be great to go back.”

Murder in the Dark, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, January 23 to Saturday, January 27. Details from