"I was born in Swansea and we went to Dorset for eight years and then came back to Usk. So I was in Usk until I was 16, went to the school here, Caerleon Comp. I loved it, it was great.

It was very sort of ‘70s and back fields and running around and jumping into the river; a lot of freedom. There were lots of clubs and I did a lot of dancing classes. It’s changed quite a bit.

It was Usk until I was 16 and then I moved here, to Caerleon, stayed here for a little bit and formed the band, The Darling Buds. I nannied over in Minorca for about four months, the summer months, and all my friends had left to go to university so I went to London and lived in London for a bit.

While I was there I was popping back to Wales and doing some recording at Loco Studios [in Llanhennock] with The Darling Buds. We’d formed...and we found the time to record our first single, which was funded by Geraint [Farr], the guitar player in the band, because he worked at Loco Studios.

We were on Sony – Michael Jackson was probably their biggest [star]. They did alright.

That’s the very first single [If I Said]. That was 1986 – so yeah, 30 years ago. It was all recorded back then and it got sent off. Geraint went to London and took a batch of these and took them round. He asked whether he could put them in John Peel’s pigeon hole and Janice Long’s. It all happened. And then it went to Melody Maker and NME and Sounds and the same thing would happen. The cleaners were saying: “Slot it in here, love!” and it was just one of those things. It was brilliant luck it found all these areas. There was no sort of promoter.

The next thing: we were reviewed in all the music papers and it was all great reviews and I remember being in London at my little flat and my friend calling and saying: ‘Put the radio on now, John Peel’s playing you!’ And John Peel played Just To Be Seen and Janice Long played If I Said. We were unsigned, we were in the music press.

John Peel phoned us and said: ‘There’s been a lot of interest in your band’ and said ‘Can I give out your contact details?’ “YES!!!” This guy from Doncaster came down to see us in Caerleon. He sort of sub-signed us to Sony and Columbia Records, who Sony bought out.

It all happened very quickly. Luckily we were all very good mates. You’re quite naïve – I was only 19. I was 18 when we formed, really. To be signed with a big label and we were sort of an indie band that was sort of crossing over. We had the Sony machine behind us…I don’t think they really knew what to do with us; I don’t think the guidance was really there.

We made three albums with Sony Records. The first one was a kind of crossover from an indie label to Sony. It was received very well. The second album was received OK and the third album they didn’t really want to know about. The British music press moves on pretty quickly.

At that point we’d started to do touring abroad, particularly in the States. It was brilliant. We went back there recently; we were asked to do a gig out there.

We did two big tours that went on for weeks and weeks – when they get you a big bus and you sleep on the bus. One state it’s snowing and the next it’s glorious sunshine. It was incredible and brilliant and we all loved it. It was very tiring. I think that was probably about 1990/91.

It was just a massive eye opener and a great experience. That was one of the things about a major label behind you, you get really looked after.

And you have to remember, we were five kids from Newport, who were having the time of their lives, loving it.

Our third album had a couple of singles on that were doing really well on American college radio so we were making the most of that. College radio was really a crossover thing, so if you were doing really well in San Francisco, for example, you could really go up the main charts. We were going there and doing a lot of promotion and then we wanted to stay on tour and record more material but were signed to Columbia Records UK so they were like our bank.

They wanted the American side to pick up the bill for what we were doing because we were doing better out there and there was a bit of a conflict. But we stuck it out .We ended up living there for about 10 months or so.

We just seemed to land on our feet wherever we were. I remember recording in Warner [Studios]. I don’t know how we got that studio time but everyone was very friendly!

Then we had to make a decision. A few of the boys had girlfriends over here, wives. I was there for longer because I had a boyfriend out there but I was there for six months.

I came back here. I must have been 24 by the time the Buds were finished.

I went to see a friend in a play and he said, you should audition for them. When I was at school I was really into performing. I did O-Level – as it was back then – drama. When I was in Usk I was always putting on things at the Sunday school.

So I was with Elan [theatre company] and did about three or four tours with them, original works. Friends had started off devising it. We went to Belgium, Austria and worked and went to Chicago as well. I was lapping it up but I wanted to find out a bit more about my craft and acting so I applied to go to Central School of Speech and Drama. That was 1996, I graduated in 1999.

When I finished drama school, I fell pregnant and I got a Saturday morning show on Radio Wales, called The Weekenders with Gaz Top. He was great fun.

[Fellow How 2 presenter] Carol Vorderman made a hovercraft out of one of our records once. I think it’s a good thing! It’s better than an ashtray!

[Andrea’s husband Jamie Jarvis] was the year above me. Jamie had a part in EastEnders and I had a job and we were back and forth, doing the M4 corridor thing. He played Troy, Irene’s toy boy.

[The Cast] started in 2004, about five years later. I was starting to do a bit of teaching. We started in Cardiff. We opened up another one in Cardiff because that one filled up straight away and then we thought we should open up something in this neck of the woods because people were travelling from Newport to Cardiff. And people were travelling from Monmouth and Crickhowell and Abergavenny to Newport and we thought as we may as well do things here."

For more information on The Cast visit thecast.co.uk.