She vowed to quit smoking in order to get fit enough to run the London Marathon next year.
But stage fright clearly got the better of Hannah Waterman’s nerves as she turned to her trusty fags to calm her down.
The actress has taken over from former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear in the West End production of Calendar Girls, and makes her first appearance in the show tonight.
Last night, as she left London’s Noel Coward theatre after last-minute rehearsals, she sparked up a cheeky ciggie before jumping into a cab to take her home for a good night’s sleep.
And after promising she would ditch the habit, saying being a smoker had also ‘definitely aged my skin’, she looked a little guilty as she was caught furiously puffing away.
But despite her anxiety about her performance, after having only a week to learn her lines, she said she was really looking forward to her debut tonight.
The former EastEnder star replaces 67-year-old Goodyear, who was forced to pull out after contracting a virus.
Waterman, 34, will take over the role of Miss July Cora in the stage adaptation of British screenwriter Tim Firth’s smash-hit 2003 film, which starred Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.
It was inspired by the true story of the group of Yorkshire women who went naked for a Women’s Institute calendar in 1999 to raise money for Leukaemia Research.
And the show, which sees the female cast – which includes Kelly Brook, Arabella Weir and Jan Leeming – strip off on stage, will give Waterman the perfect opportunity to flaunt her new slimline body.
She recently lost two-and-a-half stone after undergoing a long-term fitness and healthy eating plan.
The 5ft 2in star, who now weighs 7st 10lb, was inspired to lose weight after seeing pictures of herself spilling out of a size 16 bikini while on holiday in May this year.
Five months later, with the help of daily exercise sessions with her trainer Kevin Adams and diet advice from Loughborough University weight loss expert Martin MacDonald, she managed to drop five dress sizes.
Waterman, the daughter of Minder star Dennis, is also currently promoting her new fitness DVD Hannah Waterman’s Body Blitz.
She is married to actor Ricky Groves, who is best known for his former role as Garry Hobbs in EastEnders.
He joked that he and his wife are “the incredible shrinking couple” after he lost two stone when he took part in the current series of BBC One’s celebrity dance show, Strictly Come Dancing.
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