The last time Mercury Theatre-goers saw Caroline Langrishe she was appearing in John Cleese's adaptation of a French farce.

Now she's back, this time in another comedy from acclaimed playwright Torben Betts in which she plays the nation's favourite telly cook.

"Imagine a cross between Nigella and Delia," she begins, "although I don't feel very Nigella. More Joanna Lumley or a middle class version of Doris Day. I've been having a lot of fun with her."

Despite the fact her character has the same name as her.

"I've never played a Caroline before," she laughs. "In rehearsals we've had to differentiate between me and the fictional Caroline, so I'm Caroline L and she's Caroline M."

From the team who produced Torben Betts’ smash-hit comedy Invincible and directed by Alastair Whatley of Bury St Edmunds-based Original Theatre Company, Caroline Mortimer is the nation’s favourite TV cook.

In the glow of the studio lights, she has it all, a sparkling career, a big house, a (golf) loving husband, smart kids and the best kitchen money can buy. But when the camera turns off the truth comes out and when an unexpected guest disrupts a night of celebration there is more to spill than the wine.

Following a nationwide tour, which has included Derby, Cambridge, and of course Colchester next month, the cast and crew are very excitingly off to New York as part of the Brits off Broadway Festival.

Caroline says: "I'm really excited about taking this show to New York. We're there for a month in a groovy little theatre. As we're going around the country on tour I keep forgetting we're off to America at the end of it, and then I get reminded and get all excited about it all over again. I can't wait.

"I think they'll love it over there."

Caroline is perhaps best known for her television roles as Charlotte Cavendish in Lovejoy, shot locally across the Suffolk border in Long Melford, as well as Georgina Channing in Judge John Deed and Marilyn Fox in Casualty.

"I really enjoyed filming Lovejoy," she tells me, "but it wasn't quite in Essex. I think originally it was shot in and around Coggeshall but then when I joined for the last two series it was shot in Suffolk, which was very nice.

"There was some talk of a re-make like some other shows that are coming back but I can't see it myself. I mean if they did I would be interested by I can't see Ian McShane agreeing to it."

But the one show she's most remembered for is the little known The Flipside of Dominick Hyde.

"It was a really obscure piece about a man time travelling from the future, which I did when I was first starting out," she explains, "but a lot my generation still fondly remember it. They made a sequel, Another Flip, and then there was talk about doing a series. Disney wanted to do it but the writers just weren't interested and had moved on to other things. Then three years later you have the Back to the Future film, so that was that."

Caroline's Kitchen is at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, from April 9 to 13 at 7.30pm with extra 2.30pm shows on the Thursday and Saturday.

For tickets, priced £30 to £15, call the box office on 01206 573948 or on-line at