Betchworth teen to play Barbara Windsor in Sky One show Little Crackers
A TEENAGE actress is set for stardom as she takes on the role of one of the country's most popular screen icons.
Samantha White, from Betchworth, plays Barbara Windsor in an episode of the new Sky One show Little Crackers.
The programme tells the story of the former EastEnders star's early years, with 16-year-old Samantha portraying her as a teenager.
Samantha, who is studying film and theatre at Reigate College, told the Advertiser she got her big break after joining a local talent agency.
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"I have done quite a lot of amateur dramatics and pantomimes at Dorking Halls," she said.
"I had four or five auditions and got through all the different phases, met different people along the way and eventually got cast."
Samantha says she worked hard on her performance and was honoured to spend time with the star of the Carry On films.
"I tried to separate the character from Barbara Windsor," she said. "It would have been quite stressful to try to impersonate her, so I just tried to make the character my own while keeping in mind all of her quirky qualities.
"She is an incredible lovely, professional woman. She is very clever and she is a real star."
Describing the story of the show, the former Ashcombe School student said: "It is about Barbara Windsor as a 15-year-old, about her going from a child to an adult and gaining confidence in herself and finding that she could use her womanly ways to become an icon.
"It was the best experience of my life. I can't imagine anything more rewarding. I learnt a lot, everyone was really nice and wanted to help out."
And Barbara Windsor says Samantha was a perfect fit.
"We were looking for someone who was tiny and looked like me, but of course there aren't many of us around," she said.
"A lot of the girls who came in were much taller or, if they were shorter, they looked too young.
"Then this girl, Samantha White, walked in and reminded me of myself with a little plump face and these teeth, and this fine, blonde hair.
"She's been fantastic. I was watching her and Neil Jackson (playing Barbara's father) do a scene and a tear came to my eye because it brought back so many memories."
Steve Thurley, head of drama at the Ashcombe, said everyone there was proud of Samantha's success.
The series, which will look at the young lives of other stars including Johnny Vegas, Harry Hill and Alan Davies, starts on Sky One on December 18.