“I love this show. I absolutely love it.

“Every day I wake up and think ‘aren’t I lucky’, which means I’m always saying thank you,” Anita Dobson grins.

Taking on the momentous part of Miss Hannigan in Annie, the orphanage’s slippery manager, it is an epic role in the new musical currently touring the country and coming to the New Theatre next week.

“Every time you mention you are in Annie, people say ‘I love that show.’ I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like it,” she adds.

“So yes, I jumped on it,” she grins again.

Is it hard to block out the part as immortalised in the two Annie films, the first made in 1982 and the second in 2014?

“No, you just have to do your take of it, your shtick. You have to follow your instinct and just do it and love it. That’s just the business.

“Your process is your process, something special to you. It’s a relationship that you go on together.”

Although well known for her parts in TV dramas such as Eastenders, as well as long stints on the stage in everything from Chekhov to Shakespeare, as well as her long marriage to Queen guitarist Brian May, musical theatre is a whole different ball game.

“I’m not a dancer,” she says, “even though I love it, which is why I did Strictly. I stand in the wings every night and applaud the dance numbers and the children.

“They really are phenomenal.”

But to be given parts like this, that are so fun and entertaining, at my age, I am more than happy to work at my weaker points. I see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill and to keep learning.

“So even if I’m not a natural dancer, I love doing it, although learning the routines can be quite challenging. But my part is more character-driven anyway.

“I’m not in the big ensemble numbers, but I love every second,” the 69 year-old says.

As for playing the baddie, Anita is similarly unfazed.

“I’m just telling a story and use all the tools I have to do that, just like a plumber or a carpenter would.”

With such an impressive CV under her belt, that’s a big old bag of tools then?

“Yes,” she laughs, “I have been around a long time now and have done some really varied stuff from radio and panto to films, plays and TV, but I love trying new things.

With so much experience and fame to her name, I wonder why she is so surprised to continually land these big roles?

“I just don’t want to let anyone down, which is natural I think in this business.

“You always feel like you are trespassing. You just want to do your best.”

Bear in mind that Anita had 13 years of experience to her name when she took on the seismic part of Angie in EastEnders, and you’ll realise that she really has been around the block.

So was she typecast after being let go from the famous soap?

“When I left EastEnders everyone said I wouldn’t be able to get back on TV for at least five years.

“So I just went back to what I was doing before – theatre – and people remembered me from then and cast me and it went from there. I’ve done lots of TV since then actually, but I do like the variety, and when someone offers you a wonderful part like this, it’s a no-brainer, although I can pick and choose a bit more now.

“But when Wicked or Annie, The Merry Wives Of Windsor or Frozen come up, you say yes, and run with it, with a smile all over your face.

How does Anita pick her parts these days?

“It’s always about the script and you know pretty quickly when you read a piece through if it’s a yes or no. The instincts kick in when a piece resounds with you.”

As for touring the country for months on end in this high-energy performance, Anita shrugs and says:

“It’s part and parcel of the job.

“You just have to take care of yourself. It’s more about having fun, not over analysing everything. because it all goes in such a blur when you are enjoying yourself.”

Annie The Musical, New Theatre, until Saturday March 9. For tickets go to atgtickets.com