SHE'S certainly come a long way since the days she used to bunk off school to film her first scenes in teen soap, Hollyoaks.

These days Rawtenstall actress, Natalie Casey, is so in demand that she doesn't even need to audition for parts - they find her.

With a string of top TV roles under her belt, including her part in the award winning Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, Natalie is now taking to the stage in a musical tour of The Wedding Singer, the musical.

She told us about her early days as an aspiring actress growing up in Lancashire and her life these days that is filled with laughter.

NEVER having had any professional acting training it almost seems unfair that Natalie Casey be so gifted in her field.

But the comedy and quick wit that Natalie exudes is just something she was born with - and that you simply cannot be taught.

"I was rubbish at school, I couldn't spell or add," jokes the 27-year-old as she tells me the inspiration for taking on her latest role - in a stage version of The Wedding Singer - was because she wants a new bathroom!

Natalie said: "I was never that ambitious, even from a young age. I went to Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, but I was nothing like the others there.

"I used to look around and think; 'yes that's a definite, I'm not an academic type'.

"I was always better at pretending to be someone else than I was at being myself.

"With Rawtenstall being a mill town and there was no hope in hell of me becoming a miller it was hard growing up in a town where you're the only person with jazz-hands.

"So when I first got Hollyoaks I thought it was great.

"I would be in a boring lesson and fake illness to go off filming.

"It was hilarious, I'd say that I was ill and by some brilliant coincidence my mum would be outside the gates waiting to take me to Liverpool to film.

"I thought it was fab, I'd shout "suckers" to all my classmates as they sat in maths."

Despite never having been to drama school and only ever doing a few drama workshops as a child Natalie is regularly in high demand both on the screen and stage.

It all started with Hollyoaks when Natalie was known as loud-mouthed teenager Carol Groves.

She became a regular favourite in the long-running Channel Four soap which she starred in for more than three years.

She was asked to appear in the popular comedy Two Pints Of Lager and A Packet of Crisps, now in its seventh series on BBC3.

And for Natalie it will never be time to call time on Two Pints.

"I know people say this all the time, that they work with a family of actors who become so close but we really are.

"But we have such a good time and we are really close friends.

"Two Pints is not like a job it's like one big fun day out with your favourite people in the world.

"So as long as they continue to make them I'll be in them, I'll never be the one to suggest we stop.

"They keep saying that we have filmed the last series then fans complain and we end up making another, but I'm happy with that.

"It really is something else."

These days Natalie has been following in the footsteps of her older sister, Anna-Jane, a stage actor appearing in a host of plays including staring in Fame, in London's West End last summer.

This month Natalie will star opposite Jonathan Wilkes in The Wedding Singer, based on the hit movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, opening at Manchester's Palace Theatre on February 22 before a full UK tour.

Natalie said cannot wait to hit the road, eager to get her teeth into another stage production.

As far as plans for the future go, Natalie is the first to admit she is not full of ambitions.

She just wants to be happy and one day maybe even move back from London to her native Lancashire because she "misses the trees."

"I feel so lucky to be doing what I'm doing," she sighed, "I just don't mind what happens in the future.

"At the end of the day I just have to pay the mortgage like everyone else!

"But thankfully I actually enjoy earning the cash to pay it.

"Plus one day I've got to have two homes - one back where it's green, I miss Lancashire for that."

  • See Natalie in The Wedding Singer at Manchester Palace Theatre from Friday, February 22 to Saturday, March 1. For tickets phone 0844 847 2277.