ITV Coronation Street star ‘pinching herself’ after landing first northern Nancy role in new Oliver Twist spin-off Dodger

She’s best known to Coronation Street fans as journalist Naila Badal who works for the Weatherfield Gazette.

Now actress Saira Chaudhry is taking on a very different role filmed in her home city.

Saira, from Middleton, plays the iconic character Nancy in a spin-off of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist.

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Set in Victorian London in the 1830s, the CBBC family drama Dodger was filmed here in Manchester and across the north west, and Saira plays the big-hearted Cockney thief with her own Mancunian accent.

She played reporter Naila in Corrie between 2013 and 2019 and was often mistaken for Weatherfield legend Michelle Keegan, who played Tina McIntyre.

Saira as Naila in Corrie

She starred as Saira in the BBC Doctor Foster spin-off Life and PC Tegan Thompson in the Paul Abbott police series No Offence, which both set in Manchester.

Recently she played a police officer in Four Lives which told the harrowing story of Grindr Killer Stephen Port starring Sheridan Smith.

Saira, who also played Anita Roy in Hollyoaks, said about playing Nancy: “I wake up and pinch myself.

“I’m so excited to be playing one of the most iconic fictional characters.

Saira in No Offense

“She was one of my favorite characters growing up and I never imagined I would play her.

“I watched the film all the time with my brother.

“I auditioned for another part so when I got the role of Nancy I was really excited. I knew that character inside out and I know how she thinks.”

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She plays Nancy with her Manchester accent

Saira says her version of Nancy sees the dynamic between the character and her violent lover Bill Sikes turned on its head.

“She’s a different version and it’s cleverly written,” she told us.

“She’s not your stereotypical Nancy and she has a Manchester accent.

“Nancy is Bill’s weak spot and she uses him to her advantage. She’s a strong woman.”

Saira read for the role in both a Cockney and Mancunian accent.

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“They said ‘we want to see both versions’ and they told me ‘we like your own accent'”

She added: “I’ve never thought to move to London because there’s so much work here.”

Dodger follows the exploits of the infamous pickpocket The Artful Dodger, and Fagin’s gang.

Doctor Who and The A Word’s Christopher Eccleston takes on the role of Fagin and Shameless star David Threlfall plays Chief of Police Sir Charles Rowan, in the family adventure screened on CBBC and BBC iPlayer at 5.30pm on Sundays.

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It was filmed at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Space Studios in Gorton, Victoria Baths, Lyme Park and Lyme Hall in Disley, Stockport Market and Staircase House, Tatton Park, Tatton Hall and Tatton Old Hall, Peover Hall, Quarry Bank Mill in Styal , The National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port and Blackpool Grand Theatre.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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