From Surrey to the Square
Surrey Life|September 2020
From Surrey to the Square
EastEnders actress and Strictly Come Dancing finalist Emma Barton on how she’s hopelessly devoted to scenic Surrey
Angela Sarah West

Emma Barton says her singing, dancing and acting skills are all down to the stars. “I’m a typical Leo, I guess… A bit of a showoff!” She discovered her passion for performing at an early age. “I loved singing to my nan and grandad and making up dance routines to show them. I knew all the words to any Nolans or Bucks Fizz number!”

Starring in her school production of Smike, the pop musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, at seven years old was when she got the bug for acting. At 18 she was accepted at the Guildford School Of Acting (GSA), whose notable graduates include Surreyite Bill Nighy and Joanna Sawyer. “I was accepted at a few drama schools, but not only was GSA my first choice for training, I also wanted to live in Guildford, nearer to my family in Hampshire. I came to this county to study musical theatre, and haven’t left!”

Having moved around Surrey, she’s now happily settled. “I loved living in Guildford, and for a short time I lived in Compton and Godalming, but I’m now further out in the Surrey Hills and have been here for 15 years,” she says.

Home is her period property with “gorgeous high ceilings” and lots of light. “I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. I have horses as neighbours and sometimes when I’m sitting at the table, I can see the sheep huddled around a beautiful oak tree with a nearby lake. I tend to sit there with a cup of coffee and my scripts.”

When not learning her lines, she heads outside to the open countryside and “endless footpaths” that attracted the actress to the area. “I love the countryside, the walks, pubs, village life, the people… and there’s a sense of calm, which I love. Walking is my hobby, with my beautiful Parson Russell Terrier Poppy Dog!”

She struggled initially during the lockdown. “I like to be organised, have an agenda, a focus – I felt lost for a few weeks. Walking was my one hour outdoor exercise a day, and that’s when I started to change my mindset. Walking is great for thinking and planning new ideas. I would write myself a schedule every day and that worked for me.”

A free-to-access online community, devised by Strictly’s professional dancers Karen Hauer, David Webb, Oti Mabuse, and Oti’s husband Marius lepure, also came to the rescue.

“I was invited to take part in @homefestivalfun, full of different activities for others to get involved with.” Emma read bedtime stories. “I loved it! It had some wonderful feedback.”

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September 2020