THE North-East’s answer to Cilla Black, a veteran variety entertainer with more than half a century’s experience, is bringing her cruise ship show onto dry land for audiences across the region.

Brenda Collins will tread the boards in Spennymoor, Stanley and Northallerton this spring when she will be joined by dancers who are currently on stage in Newcastle Theatre Royal’s annual panto alongside old pal Clive Webb - who she met in their days at The London Palladium in the 70s.

Although you are more likely to find the 68-year-old performing on the open waters, she is promising the same Brenda Collins Show show packed full of fun, songs and dance.

Brenda, of Chilton, near Ferryhill, said: “I’ve been cruising all over the world but I’m not cruising this year. I’m taking a gap year out although I’ve already started getting work for 2020.

“I was on a ship and I thought I could bring my show to the theatre for people who don’t go on ships - to make it family orientated and an old fashioned variety. I want people to laugh but this is theatre - the two masks. It’ll bring out emotion in people and it’s historical.”

Brenda has been entertaining since the 1960s when, as a teenager, she sang in The Krack of Dorn. The band started out playing in a pig pen in High Shincliffe, near Durham City, but were soon performing a gruelling 15 shows a gruelling 15 shows a week across the UK and in Germany on army bases.

She married drummer and now ex-husband, John Woods, and the pair later formed comedy double act Krack and Dorn which disbanded more than 30 years ago.

It was as part of this act that she cashed in on her uncanny resemblance to Cilla Black - changing her hair as the star changed hers - while incorporating the Angel of the North, Benny Hill music and later, song.

Cilla Black will make her return to open Brenda’s upcoming two-hour stage show which will also feature the Angel of the North.

Among the other “very visual” sketches, audiences will see Brenda take on the Can-can, ballet, Argentinian tango, Riverdance and a rendition of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini while clad in an inflatable fat suit. In the last year the grandmother-of-four has performed three shows and an ‘audience with’ chat on 12 cruises. She continues to be inspired by what she sees and often incorporates it into her shows - even if it is done with her tongue firmly in her cheek.

“I go to the theatre and watch things and think ‘I can do that’,” she added.

Her three-show run in March will also welcome a team of dancers, choreographed by Amy Potts, and Newton Aycliffe-based entertainer Daniel Dixon.

The dancers will perform alongside Brenda but will also give her the chance to change backstage and even behind handheld feathers.

“When I’m on my own I’m not very glamorous because I don’t have much time,” she said. “But in this show I’m going to be very glitzy.”

And coming in useful will be Brenda’s suitcase of props which includes two false legs, false hands and a blow up doll

The Brenda Collins Show will be at The Forum, in Northallerton, on March 1, at Spennymoor Town Hall on March 8 and at Stanley’s Alun Armstrong Theatre on March 16.

Contact the box offices for more information and tickets.