Strictly champion Ellie Leach turns Scarlett for theatre debut in comedy whodunit Cluedo 2 at York Theatre Royal

Ellie Leach, front right, as interior designer Annabel Scarlett with fellow cast members Hannah Boyce, Jack Bennett, Edward Howells and Jason Durr in Cluedo 2, on tour at York Theatre Royal fromTuesday to Saturday. Picture: Alastair Muir

WHAT did 2023 Strictly Come Dancing champion Ellie Leach do next?

The answer: Make her stage acting debut as Miss Scarlett in the world-premiere British tour of the comedy whodunit Cluedo 2, marking the 75th anniversary of the Hasbro boardgame.

Next stop, York Theatre Royal, from March 12 to 16, a run that will coincide with Manchester-born Ellie’s 23rd birthday next Friday.

She replaced Helen Flanagan in the five-month tour after her fellow former Coronation Street star was advised to withdraw for medical reasons. “It all happened very quickly,” says Ellie. “I went into rehearsals while I was doing the last week of the Strictly tour. They were already in their second week when I joined.

“It was very hectic, but as soon as I arrived, everyone made me feel so welcome. I’ve been having lots of fun!”

She jumped at the chance to take to the stage in her first role since playing Faye Windass in the ITV soap from 2011 and 2023.

Scarlett fervour: After Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing, Ellie Leach is enjoying the new challenge of her stage theatre debut in Cluedo 2. Picture: Alastair Muir

“Cluedo is such an iconic board game, isn’t it. Everyone enjoys playing it,” says Ellie. “I read the script and I loved it. The writers have an amazing track record.”

Those writers are the BAFTA Award-winning stage and screen-writing duo Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, of Birds Of A Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart and Dreamboats And Petticoats fame no less. Then add a director with comedy clout too: Mark Bell, who directed Mischief Theatre’s alarmingly funny catastrophic capers in The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. “The team behind this show is incredible,” says Ellie. “Who wouldn’t want to work on it?!  I feel very lucky to be part of the show’s journey.”

Cluedo 2 – The Next Chapter, the follow-up to the play based on Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 film Clue, is an original comedy whodunit, set in the Swinging Sixties. Cue new house, new bodies, new suspects, in a tale of murder, mystery and secret passageways.

What happens?  Fading rock’n’roll legend Rick Black (Liam Horrigan) is broke, desperate for cash to run his expensive new home, Graveny Manor, and prepared to do anything to regain his fame and fortune.

Excited to reveal his long-awaited comeback album, Black has assembled his supermodel wife, the Honourable Emerald Peacock (Hannah Boyce); his manager, Colonel Eugene Mustard (Jason Durr, from Heartbeat and Casualty); long-time roadie “Professor” Alex Plum (Edward Howells), trusted interior designer Annabel Scarlett (Leach) and housekeeper Mrs White (Dawn Buckland), who came with house and who knows all its secrets.

However, someone is missing: Black’s former song-writing partner “The Reverend” Hal Green (Gabriel Paul), who disappeared mysteriously at the same time that Black’s career went downhill. What’s more, where did that butler, Wadsworth (Jack Bennett) come from?

First meeting: Jason Durr’s Colonel Eugene Mustard introduces himself to Ellie Leach’s Annabel Scarlett in the comedy whodunit Cluedo 2. Picture: Alastair Muir

As the bodies start to pile up, the ever-colourful characters move from room to room trying to escape the murderer and survive the night, while PC Silver (Tiwai Muza) and audience alike look for the clues to unravel the secrets, seeking to work out whodunit, with what, and where!  

“What’s really fun is playing a character that’s evolved from a board game,” says Ellie. “You can do a lot with it, and there’s so much that’s different about Miss Scarlett from the first play.

“Every Cluedo character is iconic but you can put your own stamp on it; there’s lots of layers to each one and it’s been interesting to delve into them: how they are when they’re together; how they are when they’re on their own.”

Miss Scarlett by name, but is she scarlet by nature? “People may have that perception of her, but she has more to her than that,” says Ellie, as the company continues rehearsals under Bell after opening the tour in Richmond, Surrey, on February 29. “There’s hints of scarlet, but other things too!”

Ellie is “so excited to join the cast of Cluedo 2 after an incredible year”, the year when she waltzed her way to winning Strictly Come Dancing with Italian dancer Vito Coppola last December. “It was an absolute dream come true to take part but for us to lift the Glitterball Trophy with Vito was something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” she says. “I treasure that feeling of joy at the public voting for us each week.”

Cluedo 2 runs at York Theatre Royal, March 12 to 16, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 01904 623568 or

In the red: Ellie Leach’s Miss Scarlett looks alarmed in Cluedo 2. Picture: Dave Hogan