Here she goes again - Coronation Street’s Sunita stars in Mamma Mia

Shobna, Sarah and Sue in Mamma Mia.
Shobna, Sarah and Sue in Mamma Mia.

She might have been written out of the show after evil ex lover Carl burned down the Rovers while she was inside, but Shobna Gulati (aka Sunita Alahan) isn’t ruling out a return to the cobbled streets of Weatherfield

She might have been written out of the show after evil ex lover Carl burned down the Rovers while she was inside, but Shobna Gulati (aka Sunita Alahan) isn’t ruling out a return to the cobbled streets of Weatherfield

Shobna Gulati.

Shobna Gulati.

“If it was good enough for Bobby Ewing when he came out of the shower in Dallas, it’s good enough for me” laughed Shobna.

“And here’s a little bit of trivia for you, my first ever scene in Coronation Street was just my voice coming out of the shower.”

Shobna will make her visit to Derry this Summer starring as Tanya in the ultimate feel good musical Mamma Mia which plays at the Millennium Forum from July 7-11.

Set on a Greek Island Mamma Mia tells the story of love and friendship through the music of ABBA. The Movie is the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film of all time and one in four households in the UK has the DVD, which is now Amazon UK’s biggest selling DVD ever.

It’s a dream role for Shobna who says her day job involves being on stage with her two best friends having the time of her life.

“What’s not to like about that?” she said.

It’s probably hard for Corrie fans to fathom that three years have passed since Shobna left the soap.

“Time goes by so quickly in soap land though, doesn’t it,” said Shobna. “I was murdered by that Manchester rogue Carl. But I had a really exciting end to the show.

“Coronation Street was such a huge part of my life and I have a lot of regard for all the people I worked with. It really settled me into working in television after working for years in the theatre. Before that I had worked on Dinnerladies so I wasn’t completely new to the camera.

“I only signed for three months and ended up staying for 12 years. In fact when I joined I played a 23 year-old, and I was actually 32.”

But being torched inside Manchester’s most famous pub probably means Shobna’s days on the cobbles are numbered.

“Not at all,”she laughs. “I could be like Bobby Ewing and wake up.”

And it certainly seems that Shobna will always be Sunita in the hearts of Corrie fans.

“I got off the plane in Dublin and the guy asked me for my passport,” she said. “He looked at me before he opened it and said ‘Hi Sunita.’ I think that’s just a testament to the hard work that’s done on soaps.

“If you can convince everyone that you really are Sunita, you’re doing your job right.”

Her trip to the Maiden City in July marks Shobna’s first ever visit to Derry - but she says she loves people from Northern Ireland, none more so than good friend Norman Whiteside.

Shobna lets us into a little secret...

“I’ve never actually seen Mamma Mia the film,” she admits. “People keep saying I have to watch it but I won’t. I’m bringing my own Tanya to the stage.

“Tanya is a real cougar in Mamma Mia. She’s married all these millionaires but remains a feminist. It’s a great part because she is such a strong woman. I love that the three of us are all together on stage so much, we just come together and it works. The chemistry is right.

“I think my favourite song has to be ‘The Name of the Game’ because it’s so soulful. But it’s hard to pick a favourite Abba song.”

But who knew Shobna could sing?

“I get asked that quite a lot,” she says. “But I learned my trade before I started Coronation Street and that included acting and dancing. I describe myself as an actor who can sing rather than a singer.”

She describes the support she’s had from family, particularly her son, as amazing.

“This tour is a long one,” she said. “But no matter where you are you know you can get home. It’s the nature of the job.

“When I was doing Corrie I was able to be at home with my son, but now he’s all grown up and I’m free to explore travelling.”

Shobna asks what’s the best thing to see in Derry - and I tell her to have a walk over the Peace Bridge.

“I can’t wait for the show and to see Derry,” she says. “It’s a feel good show about women. The audience always leaves feeling elated. As an actor there’s no better feeling than that.”

Joining Shobna on stage will be Sara Poyzer as Donna Sheridan, Sue Devaney as Rosie and Northern Ireland’s Niamh Perry as Sophie Sheridan. The cast will also star Sara Poyzer’s real-life husband, Richard Standing as Sam Carmichael, Michael Beckley as Bill Austin, Mark Jardine as Harry Bright, Justin Thomas as Sky, Daniella Bowen as Ali, Tara Young as Lisa, Alex Simmons as Pepper and Charlie Stemp as Eddie. The role of Donna will be played at certain performances by Francesca Ellis.

Book tickets on or ring 71264455.