Backstage at Backstairs Billy

Posted on 18 December 2023

We’ve made like our favourite Christmas Cracker joke and turned into a couple of Mince Spies, going behind the scenes at Backstairs Billy to get the lowdown on the royal event of the year. Emily Barber has been our inside accomplice, and who better to talk to us about the show than someone who stars in it, twice. The Bridgerton actor plays not one, but two roles in the critically acclaimed production, portraying Annabel Maud and Lady Astlebury.

Annabel Maud is the star of one of Her Majesty’s favourite TV shows, which is ironic as Penelope Wilton, who plays the Queen Mother, is the star of some of Barber’s favourite films and shows ‘you can’t help but treat her like she’s royalty.’

Barber also admires Luke Evans, who played her fiancé in the brilliant Netflix series The Alienist, 'when I read this play, he was the first person that came to my mind, which is fascinating. Once I found out I was like, I should be a casting director! He is perfect for the role and it’s been really lovely being in the room with him'.

As well as enjoying her co-stars’ company, Barber also gets a thrill from The Village People, Nat King Cole and the prospect of a PJ day…


How do you get yourself ready to step on stage? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I start with a vocal and physical warm up on stage, which also always involves a good natter with the cast about what everyone has got up to during the day. I then go up to my dressing room for wig prep and start doing my makeup for my first character Annabel. Nicola Sloane and I have a little boogie to the YMCA which is one of the pre-show tracks. Finally, it's costume on, contact lenses in, wig and a trip to the toilet, and it’s showtime! 

If you could give you character any Christmas present, what would it be and why?

My second character – Lady Miffie Astlebury is a socialite and states her lifestyle and diet mainly consists of cigarettes and champagne. So, I’d have to say a magnum of the finest champs. And Spanx. 

What’s your favourite Christmas Song?

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole 

How would you spend a spectacular snow day?

The idea of “a snow day” reminds me of being a child, and the optimistic glee of a potential day off from school. So, I’d stay in my pyjamas all day and rotate between playing out in it, building a snowman, and then warming up inside watching an old classic movie. 

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