Rising star: Emma Williams

~ This is London by Patrick Marmion ~

In the space of just ten days, 18-year-old Emma Williams was signed, sealed and delivered as the leading lady in Adrian Noble's stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

When Noble told the West End debutante that she'd got the part, she screamed, have him a massive hug ('which scared the life out of him'), phoned her mum and burst into tears. Funnily enough, less than two years before this, when up in the gods of the same theatre on her 17th birthday, Williams predicted to her mother 'one day I'll be on that stage'.

Now, Williams says her Mum is 'chuffed' - a good northern word from a Halifax lass who describes herself as 'West Yorkshire born and bred'. Her family comprises a 21-year-old brother doing an MA in cyber crafts, a cat called Shelley, several goldfish, a mother who runs a riding school and an engineer father who's something big in turbines.

It was her godmother, once a professional dancer, who encouraged Emma to take dancing lessons. These led to a stage debut in a Halifax amateur theatre group production of 42nd Street aged 13, followed by acting school at Bradford's Stage 84. This then turned into TV appearances in Heartbeat, Where The Heart Is and Four Fathers, plus her film debut as the teenage car thief in Steve Coogan's The Parole Officer last year.

So schoolwork must have taken a battering? Au contraire. Williams has five A-levels and a place at university. The A-levels are French, German, Business and General Studies. The degree course is in medieval and modern languages. Her friends are no slouches either - one is studying to be a surgeon.

Unsurprisingly, in the stage production they've had to make Williams's Truly Scrumptious a little more feisty than in the film. She even gets to ride motorbikes and wear trousers. Nor does it sound like she's going to run off to join a girl and or marry a footballer. In fact, she's appalled by these ideas.

'I'm far too young for marriage!' and 'Do I look like the girl band type?' No. She doesn't act like one either. Watch this face.


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