SWAPPING the cobbles of Coronation Street for the nave of Chester Cathedral might seem a strange career choice but for actress turned writer Deborah McAndrew being commissioned to create a new script for the next cycle of the medieval Chester Mystery Plays is a "dream job".

The acclaimed playwright, who originally trained as a teacher before embarking on a dramatic path as a writer and actor, became a well-known face in the ITV soap during the early 1990s as design student Angie Freeman. She quickly stole the heart of Curly Watts and worked for Mike Baldwin before leaving the Rovers and flying off to Mexico to study Aztec design (as you do). A few years later she was back, designing Mike's underwear factory, Underworld, but in 1998 she made her last appearance on the street, leaving to concentrate on her writing career.

"I look back on my time on Corrie with great fondness," says Deborah. "It's part of the tapestry of a career that goes back over 30 years now. People still say hello to me when I'm walking down the street and everyone remembers you in a way you don't realise when you're on the inside. When I started out writing they were great to me too and let me sit in on script meetings and it was a great education."

The Chester Mystery Plays, originally written by Benedictine monks of the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral) in the 13th and 14th centuries, are produced in the city once every five years. They are based on stories from the Bible, from the Creation to Noah’s Flood, through to the Last Judgment.

Deborah says: “I came to watch the Chester Mystery Plays in 2013 with my family and was delighted when the director Peter Leslie Wild approached me with the idea of writing a new script for 2018.

“I have always known about mystery plays and medieval theatre and am especially interested in the connection between theatre and the church. I love medieval music too so to be honest, it’s a bit of a dream job for me.”

A practising Catholic, Deborah is sticking strictly to the original texts with any additions required taken from the Tyndale Bible.

"You do feel the weight of history upon you," she says. "There is such a great tradition and you feel the responsibility to all those have gone before you and the people who have made these plays in the past.

"Luckily I'm not a big fan of making things modern just for the sake of it and I've not added any modern dialogue, but at the same time I am well aware that I am writing the script for a 21st century audience so I am looking at the world in 2018 and what the plays will mean for people now."

Sadly it's the themes of war and murder that are the ones that Deborah sees as being particularly prevalent ("nothing ever changes" she remarks) especially with 2018 marking the centenary of the end of the World War One.

“Fratricide, war, environmental disasters - they are all documented in the Scriptures and the Chester Mystery Plays," she says. "The play Cain and Abel is about brother fighting brother - something we see all over the world. It's the first ever murder, the first time murder enters into the world and I wanted to explore the idea of that being a real moment in time. A brother killing his brother is a profound metaphor for all that is happening in the world."

With the world finally waking up to issues like plastic pollution, coral reef decay and climate change, Deborah also felt it was important to address environmental issues.

"You can't turn on the TV without seeing pollution," she says. "Luckily you have to do Noah when you write the mystery plays - everyone is expecting it, especially the children - and it's the ultimate natural disaster that shows how we will keep being punished if we bring destruction on ourselves and the planet."

The Chester Mystery Plays will be performed at Chester Cathedral from June 27 - July 14 2018.

Tickets are on sale now by telephone on 01244 500959 or online from www.chestermysteryplays.com