HOLLYOAKS actress Carli Norris hasn’t had to give up her day job in order to follow her passion for baking.

Carli plays Martha Kane in the Channel 4 show and has starred in TV soaps EastEnders and Doctors as well as West End shows.

She lives with husband of eight years Gary Turner, a former Emmerdale actor, and their two daughters. She is busy renovating a house and zipping between Essex and Liverpool to shoot scenes for Hollyoaks.

In between all this she also devotes time to running a cake business.

However, these are not any old cakes, these are Chocodolly cakes – handmade, handpainted and featuring a hand-sculpted chocolate dolly in vintage dress on top.

The dolly can be modelled to look like the person it has been made for, with edible accessories to match.

It has taken several years for 39-year-old Carli, who is still acting, to perfect, but her brand is now making waves and she is soon to have meeting with top department stores in London.

“When I get an idea in my head I just have to go with it,” explains Carli, sitting in her boudoir, surrounded by the dishy dollies and vintage furniture, the sanctuary in which she makes her dollies.

Harlow-born Carli ran the vintage shop in Thorpe-le-Soken, Kitty’s Cottage, from her own home. It lasted eight months, but she soon discovered a gap in the market as a cupcake teacher and set up a side room at the shop to hold classes.

She says: “When I had Kitty’s Cottage I always used to make little roses and dollies to put on shop bought cakes and people used to ask to buy them.

“I put up a load of Cath Kidston wallpaper up, covered some old tables with cloth and made it all look as kitsch as possible, put one of my home-baked cakes in the middle, advertised my class and got 15 bookings straight away.

“It just grew and grew.”

She began making vintage style cakes, with cupcakes designed to look like tea pots, cups and high-heeled shoes.

But as her acting career took off with a job at Hollyoaks, the cake business and life in the cottage was difficult to maintain and Carli found she was cancelling classes.

Then she discovered chocolate.

“I love the vintage pin-up girl style, with all that lingerie and glamour. I am really into burlesque and I think Dita Von Teese is beautiful. She is far more attractive and powerful than women who try and be geezer birds.

“By dressing like a man, smoking, spitting, swearing, you are giving away the power you were born with.”

She explains: “By dressing really feminine you may look like a dolly bird but they have power over men and it’s a much nicer way to be.”

So she started making chocolate dollies in the vintage style, making the figures from the chocolate paste up, and they were hugely popular.

It has taken Carli two years of practise to get the dollies looking perfectly busty and sexy and now she makes everything from cupcakes to wedding cakes with the handmade dollies on top.

“There are no moulds in sight,” says Carli, who takes between one and four days to make a Chocodolly.

“I love everything I do now. When I wasn’t acting I didn’t miss it because I love making the cakes but when I went back into acting with Hollyoaks I remembered why I went to RADA and how all the auditions are worth it.

“I love making cakes so much, though I would consider giving up acting – though if the right film came along where I would play Johnny Depp’s love interest, I wouldn’t say no. And I would make him a cake!”

Carli had an interesting career as a theatre actress.

She knew she was doing something right when an acting legend paid her a compliment.

“My first professional acting job was as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion in the West End,” explains Carli.

“Peter O’Toole, who had also performed in previous adaptations of the show, knocked on my dressing room door. “He was the first famous person I had ever met. I grew up watching him in Lawrence of Arabia and here he was in my dressing room. “He told me mine was the most beautiful performance of Eliza Doolittle he had ever seen. Then he asked if he could give me a kiss.

“I hadn’t even graduated from RADA then!”

Carli still seems in awe as she retells the story of her first tentative steps into acting.

Of course, since then she has become a household name, has sat and eaten toast in her pyjamas at Dame Judi Dench’s house, with the lady herself when she starred in a play with Dame Judi’s daughter.

Even Prince Charles took a fancy to Carli’s legs when he met her after a stage show in which she sat on a sofa wearing hot pants and high heels.

Acting will always have a special place in Carli’s heart – after all it is how she met husband Gary Turner, former Corrie star and former squeeze of actress Shobna Gulati, Sunita in Coronation Street.

But Carli explains: “We met when we were both in a stage show called How The Other Half Lives and Gary and I hated each other. Absolutely hate is not even the strongest word I could use. He thought I was a bossy, stuck up and rude person and I thought he was immature, always late.

“We just didn’t get on at all.”

Then just like most love/hate relationships they realised there was a fine line between the two emotions.

“He was going on holiday to Barbados and invited me to go along with him and he would pay. We had our first kiss on the aeroplane there and I though, he’ll do, I want babies with him!”

And she did.

For more information about Chocodolly visit the website www.facebook.com/chocodolly.co.uk

Carli will be exhibiting her cakes at the Secret Vintage Fair on Saturday, July 27, from 11am to 4.30pm. Entry is £3 at Liquid nightclub in Colchester High Street.