She secured her place in TV history books with the role of Coronation Street's larger-than-life Cilla Battersby-Brown. And now East Lancashire-born actress Wendi Peters is returning to her old stomping ground for a stint in The Vagina Monologues.

THE first thing that strikes you about Wendi Peters is how little she sounds like her alter-ego Cilla Battersby-Brown.

“My accent was never that strong to start with really,” laughed Wendi, born-and-bred in Wilpshire, Blackburn.

“My dad has a fairly strong accent but my mother doesn't. She pretends to be a bit posh!

“With doing drama and because my husband is southern, I seem to have lost my accent. I suppose the fact that I've lived in London for 25 years and that I'm not speaking to someone with a thick Lancashire accent every day helps too."

But despite sounding more southern girl than Lancashire lass, 41-year-old Wendi insists she's fiercely proud of her roots.

“My parents live in Copster Green and I visit regularly,” she said.

“If anybody asks where I'm from I always say Lancashire, even though I've actually lived down south for longer."

Born in Bramley Meade Maternity Home, Whalley, Wendi was brought up in Wilpshire and lived there until the age of 16, when she left Lancashire for the bright lights of the capital.

“I had a lovely upbringing in Wilpshire,” she said.

“My dad worked for an electrical company and my mum worked at Barclays bank in Accrington. I went to Salesbury School and then onto Clitheroe Grammar School and I used to go to dancing classes every single night of the week at the Carlotta School of Ballet, in Blackburn. Wilpshire was a lovely place to grow up. It was a bit more countrified than other areas and we lived on a little cul-de-sac so we were safe to play out in the evenings. I live in Hertfordshire now with my husband Kenny Linden and our eight-year-old daughter Gracie. I chose this area because it reminds me of Wilpshire and I want Gracie to have a similar upbringing to the one I had.

“If I'd have not gone into this profession, chances are I'd still be in Lancashire now, but there weren't really the opportunities for me then.”

Wendi is returning to East Lancashire to perform in The Vagina Monologues, coming to Burnley Mechanics in May.

Based on Eve Ensler's “vagina interviews” conducted with women from all around the world, the show is a witty and moving collection of tales that give voice to a chorus of lusty, outrageous, poignant, brave and, above all else, thoroughly human stories.

Wendi will star alongside former Hear’say singer Suzanne Shaw and Emmerdale actress Hayley Tamaddon.

“I'd never read the book or seen the show when I was first offered it, but I knew that some of the world's most famous women had been in it, so I thought I’d see what it was all about.

“I love all the different monologues. They're all good in their own way. It's a funny, moving show and it's very important for every woman who goes to see it.”

One monologue Wendi isn't sure she wants to perform is The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy, in which a woman gives a vocal demonstration of an orgasm.

"I have always said no to that one but I've got a feeling that I'll be given it this time around," she said.

"It would be OK if my mum wasn't watching, but she probably will come to see the show in Burnley! I'm not going to let my dad come, though. I think it's one for him to miss. It would just be too embarrassing."

Of course, Wendi's big break came when she joined Coronation Street in 2003 playing Cilla, the loudmouth partner of Les Battersby.

Wendi left the soap in October 2007 after four years and says she doesn't miss it.

“I had a flat in Manchester where I'd stay during the week and then I'd return home at weekends, which was hard, and that was a big part of my decision to leave,” said Wendi.

“It's lovely for me to be able to spend a bit more time with Gracie now. At Coronation Street you're not given your schedule until 10 days in advance so I couldn't plan anything. A friend would say ‘Do you want to come for dinner in a fortnight?’ And I'd have to say ‘I can't tell you yet’.”

Wendi keeps in contact with some of her soap workmates by text, including Sam Aston who played her son Chesney.

But she's enjoying slipping back into anonymity.

“It's been quite nice to sink back into normal life a little bit,” she said. “I've had my hair cut and I wear glasses now so I can get about my business without being stopped. The funny thing is that when you're not on telly people think you're not working, but since I left Corrie I've been really busy.”

Some of the things Wendi has been up to include appearing on Jack Osbourne's reality TV show Adrenalin Junkie, on which she performed a 9,000ft skydive.

"I'd just turned 40 and I thought ‘If I don't do it now I'm never going to do it’,” explained Wendi.

“It was amazing. I can't tell you how good it was. I kept checking everything was safe over and over and in the end I just had to put my trust in the guy I was jumping with.

“I've also done The F Word with Gordon Ramsay, which was fantastic, and I'm doing a one-woman play in Ireland at the moment called Mrs Whippy”

So is a return to the sacred cobbles of Corrie an option now she's so busy with other projects?

“I'd never say never,” said Wendi. “But at the moment I'm just having too much of a good time doing other things.”

l See Wendi Peters in The Vagina Monologues, coming to Burnley Mechanics on Thursday, May 7. For tickets call box office on 01282 664400 or visit