Running away from drama school to join the circus completely changed Mandy Muden's life.

Actors at that time found work through The Stage newspaper, and Mandy spotted a position as a magician's assistant with a circus. So the comedian/magician upped sticks from training to become an actor and joined the circus.

"I loved it. This was the first time I had experienced magic,'' she said.

Like most circus folk, Mandy lived in a caravan, travelling the highways of the UK and Europe performing in different cities. She had a close encounter with a boxing kangaroo one night, when they were visiting France.

"I set the caravan on fire and the only person there to help was the guy with the boxing kangaroo. He was waiting to go on and perform. He handed me the kangaroo's lead and said: Hang on to this fellow, while he went to sort out the fire. I stood there with a large, very strong kangaroo who was trained to box anyone who came near him. It was a £3,000 kangaroo and he kept trying to box people who walked by, and I tried to hang on,'' said Mandy.

Magic became Mandy's life and 10 years ago she was invited to become a member of the Inner Magic Circle, the highest honour any magician can hope for. She was also awarded the Carlton Award for Comedy In Magic.

"I was doing the magic and then put some comedy in and people seem to prefer it. More people started coming to my shows,'' said Mandy. "Even those who say they don't like magic end up enjoying the comedy, mind-reading and fun.''

Mandy will be bringing her latest show, Cunning Stunts, to Swindon's Arts Centre on Tuesday, February 12.

Mandy has just completed her panto run in Snow White with Strictly Come Dancing's Brendan Cole.

"Brendan is such a lovely guy, great fun to work with, generous of spirit and all round good egg. The challenge for me was that I hate heights and I had to fly in on a large mirror. By the end of the run I was almost blaze about it,'' she said.

Mandy's name became more widely known when she took part in Simon Cowell's TV talent show Britain's Got Talent. She says it was a case of something really good coming out of something really bad.

"I was working on a cruise ship out of Australia when a friend called to say I needed to do something about the cowboy builder, who was supposed to be doing a few repairs. He had literally smashed up my house, he took the stairs out, smashed the bath room, and when I looked up I could see stars - he had taken the whole second floor off, including the roof. It was condemned and I had nowhere to live,'' she said.

Fortunately one of her friends had just won the America's Got Talent and was appearing in Las Vegas, so Mandy moved into his house, while he was away.

"That's how the idea of appearing on Britain's Got Talent came into my head, and it was the best thing I ever did. It is exactly as you see on the television, a lot of sitting around and waiting. You get nervous and then calm down and then nervous all over again. There are so many people, yet you bond with some of them as you wait for the audition. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend anyone to do it. It is a great experience,'' she said. "It feels surreal when you see all the judges sitting their looking at you.''

Another TV experience for Mandy was Faking It when she was mentor to a young lad who was studying to become a forensic scientist but had a passion for magic. Following his experience on the show with Mandy he gave up his studies and is currently a father and successful magician in his own right.

"It was an amazing thing to do and he took to magic really well with his logical brain,'' said Mandy, who also helped him after the series with finding work as a magician.

The comedian/magician says she is looking forward to bringing her new show to Swindon and tickets are £20 from 01793 524481 or visit - Flicky Harrison