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Preview: The Syndicate at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Samantha Giles and Brooke Vincent on swapping soaps for The Syndicate

The Syndicate

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 May 2024


Based on the smash-hit, critically acclaimed BBC One drama of the same name, The Syndicate visits Newcastle Theatre Royal as part of its premiere UK tour. For actresses Samantha Giles and Brooke Vincent, the chance to work on a Kay Mellor production was too good an opportunity to miss...

Brooke, who became a household name playing Sophie Webster in the ITV soap Coronation Street from 2004 to 2019, says landing the role of Amy in the UK tour of The Syndicate was a real thrill: I’ve taken a step back to have my two boys, so this is my return to acting and Im so excited. I love Kays work, its so real and theres such a sense of warm northern humour that I just adore.”

Meanwhile Samantha was looking for a new challenge after recently leaving her hugely successful role as Bernice Blackstock in Emmerdale, where she entertained fans on and off over the last 26 years.

Talking about her role in The Syndicate as kind-hearted worker Denise, Samantha says: A lot of people are only used to seeing me as Bernice, who is this glamorous person and Denise is the polar opposite! Shes a bit on the frumpy side, life hasnt been so good to her, shes just totally different to Bernice which is so lovely to play.”

Samantha shares why she thinks Kay Mellor’s writing is so good; “Shes able to create real stories and wonderful characters that people can relate to and reflect how ordinary people live.”

Samantha and Brooke are veterans of drama having navigated the fast pace of soap-land for years, so taking to the stage in front of a live audience should be a walk in the park. Brooke laughs, No, of course I’ll be nervous! The way I deal with it is to face the fear anyway!”

She enjoys being part of a team, “You all have a part to play to bring the show to life and you just need to feed off that.”

Samantha agrees, Its been 14 years since I've done a play, so I am feeling nervous. Nerves are good and I think the more we do it, the more confident we get. I just think you cant beat live theatre; hearing the reaction from the audience and having that shared experience, theres nothing like it.”

Their admission of nerves will come as welcome relief to their co-star and Gaynor’s son Oliver Anthony.

While he’s no stranger to The Syndicate, having starred in series four of the BBC drama, he is making his theatre debut in the role of Jamie. He says: “I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, but that's just because I want to make Kay proud.”

“I've been a part of this story since she adapted it into a theatre script. I played the role of Jamie in the development workshops of the play and actually read the part in the auditions for many of these other amazing actors. So to then be on the other side of the auditioning process as an actor, and get the part, is incredible. Now I really want to prove I deserve my place in the show and give it my best shot, I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands.”

Oliver explains more about his character Jamie, “He’s very three dimensional, he’s got a switch in him which can make him villainous, and that’s always amazing to play as an actor, but he’s also got a real sense of love and connection with his brother. I love that he’s brash, but he gets away with it because he’s always got a cheeky smile and a glint in his eye!”

For Brooke taking on the role of Amy has been a delight: Shes more Rosie Webster than Sophie Webster! I’ve never played a dolly bird before; she even comes out with hair extensions! Im such a tom boy in real life so thats been great to take on, I love that Amy is so different to me. I’ve never played a character like this before.”

Samantha adds: Denise is quite mumsy at the start, always putting everybody else before herself and its interesting to see the change that happens during the course of the play, especially when she gets her hands on the money!”

The appeal of The Syndicate is that there wont be a theatregoer anywhere in the UK who hasnt dreamt of winning the lottery, how they would react if their numbers came up and, of course, what they would spend their winnings on.

“This play is a reminder to be careful what you wish for.” Samantha adds, With money comes greed and then a sense of desperation about what youre willing to do to keep it.”

For theatre newcomer Oliver the UK tour may seem a daunting schedule; luckily, hes got an experienced cast, including his mum Gaynor, to turn to for advice. As well as directing the production, Gaynor is set to join the stars on stage, playing the role of the lottery representative, who, in honour of her mum, she has called, ‘Kay’.

While some might not like working with their parents, for Oliver it’s a chance to learn from the best; “She’s an amazing actress and is absolutely killing it in her directing role, so to be able to work alongside her and learn from her is an utter privilege. I feel very lucky to have someone of her experience and talent coaching me through this. I really want to make her proud.”

Photos:  Dave Hogan


The Syndicate plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 May 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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