Helen George is recognisable to many as Trixie Franklin on BBC-hit drama series Call The Midwife, but currently people can see her taking on an entirely different role altogether. 

The English actress has traded in the television cameras for the bright lights of the theatre stage with a starring role in the current UK touring production of the classic musical The King and I. 

George swaps British babies for Bangkok English lessons as the musical's iconic character Anna Leonowens, a widow from Victorian England who has travelled to Bangkok to teach English to the King’s many children.

“I’d been wanting to do a musical for a while,” she says, “and I was waiting for the right one to come along and just couldn’t say no. It’s just such a classical musical theatre part.”

Though better known for bringing babies into the world on TV, her first job after drama college was in the ensemble of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White in 2004. She has since sung at the BBC’s VE Day 75th anniversary commemoration and on the cast album of Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella.

The King and I is a multi-generational musical, and generations of families come together to see it. That means there is a new generation who, like Helen George, won’t realise much loved songs such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune” and “Getting to Know You” belong to The King and I.

“I went to see the show when I was seven or eight when I was growing up in Birmingham,” she says. “I haven’t gone back and watched the film because I need to find Anna myself, and I hadn’t realised how many songs she sings. I knew them but I hadn’t quite figured they were all together in this show.”

As for dancing, George took the dancefloor by storm on Strictly in 2015, so she won’t have any trouble with “Shall We Dance?”. In the show’s climactic song, Anna and the King dance a sweeping polka that is an ecstatic meeting of minds, hearts and, most of all, feet.

“When we do this incredible dance I wear this incredible dress,” she says. “I’m as big as a house. In the rehearsal room, everybody has had to get out of the way. I lift up the skirt and drag scripts and tea cups with me along the way. It weighs ten pounds and it’s uncomfortable but this was the life of a Victorian woman.”

The King and I is at the Bristol Hippodrome from March 28-April 1. Tickets are available here - https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-king-and-i/bristol-hippodrome/