NIKKI Patel is a familiar face.

For five years the Bradford actress graced the cobbles of Britain's best loved soap - Coronation Street.

She talks about landing the role of the character Amber Kalirai, eldest daughter of businessman Dev Alahan, after having little acting experience.

Attending out of school acting classes and spending a few months at the Idle stage school, Stage 84, was the extent of her expertise.

Nikki puts it down to 'sheer luck' but, apart from a brief break to study drama and film at University in Manchester she was a mainstay on the street for five years.

"I was just so enthusiastic, I was really excited about it," she says, recalling when she landed the part.

Nikki also recalls being 'star struck' on meeting the Street's many famous faces who became colleagues.

On leaving the Street, Amber says she turned down the offer of Reality TV and instead took the time to figure out what path she wanted her career to take.

"I didn't want to go to drama school because I had done five years on a set. I wanted to read plays and do that, so as far as my career was concerned I wasn't sure of really where I wanted to go because I think it is always hard to follow if you have been in a soap for a while.

"It took two years to figure out where I wanted to go," says Nikki.

Her debut theatre performance was in Tamzin Oglesby's Future Conditional alongside a cast including Rob Brydon.

"It was a bit of a coup," says Nikki.

She also appeared in Romeo and Juliet with Kenneth Branagh "and that was another coup," says Nikki.

"I had never done Shakespeare before and then I just did another little play down in London and then Sunshine in Leith," she says, referring to her latest theatre role which has brought her back to her Yorkshire roots.

Nikki is currently rehearsing for the role of the 'mysterious' character Eilidh in the smash-hit musical which runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from Friday April 20 until Saturday May 19.

Written by Stephen Greenhorn and directed by Playhouse artistic director, James Brining, the musical features classic songs from The Proclaimers, Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid whose hits include 'I'm Gonna be (500 miles), 'Letter from America' and 'Sunshine on Leith.'

For Nikki performing in a musical is another string to her bow. "It's nice that I can do Shakespeare, comedy, drama and musicals. I think that is the aim, to spread as far and wide and do different things as much as possible has always been my goal.

"It is so joyful, it is my first musical. A lot of work I have done has been quite serious stuff, Shakespeare and other political stuff. We are laughing and singing and dancing every day, it's a lot of work but we are having a ball doing it at the same time and the music itself just gets you in a good mood. Hopefully there is sunshine when we put it on!" says Nikki.

She considers acting to be a vocation she feels privileged to be part of. "It is what I have always wanted to do. I am living my dream."

'Sunshine on Leith' comes to the Quarry Theatre from Friday April 20 to Saturday May 19. For tickets, or for more information, call 0113 213 7700 or visit