BASILDON-BORN TV star Kara Tointon has spoken of her fun playing an “alley cat” in a hit ITV wartime drama.

Describing it as “Downton Abbey on speed”, Kara, 33, is gearing up for the second series of the Halcyon, which returns to screens across the nation on ITV on Monday, starring as Betsey Day.

Since leaving her role in EastEnders, Kara has charmed her way into the nation’s hearts in Mr Selfridge, Strictly Come Dancing and, last year, as Maria von Trapp in the Sound of Music Live.

The star, who grew up in Leigh, revealed the fun she had playing her character.

She said: “It’s one of those parts you can’t help but have fun with; it’s quite rare to get to be someone you’d like to be a little bit more like. in terms of the confidence and the fact she doesn’t care.

“Usually, it’s those people I always admire because maybe I care a bit too much and it’s a nice way to go about your life - just to get on and be who you are.

“My character is before her time. I call her ‘the alley cat’ of the piece, in that she’s a runaway, she loves music and she sings, but she’s not naturally sexy,I don’t think,,anyway. Although she enjoys playing sexy when it suits her. “

The former St Hilda’s pupil added that her latest project has given her the chance to rediscover her singing voice.

She said: “I have always had singing lessons on and off for my own joy.

“It’s been a closet thing, a dream, but every time I wanted to push that button, I wimped out.

“Then the Sound Of Music Live came up last year and initially I just thought it was a bit of a joke. But it suddenly sounded really fun and I had to get over myself.

“My fondest memory of filming the Halcyon, is me seeing my microphone to sing into and then having the place full. Most of my scenes are in the bar where it’s very atmospheric and there’s usually lots of dancing going on,

“It’s like Downton Abbey on speed.”

The second series of the Halcyon begins on ITV on Monday.