17 AUGUST 2007

Actress Natalie Cassidy found fame playing dowdy young mum Sonia Fowler in EastEnders. But soap fans witness to her stunning appearance at this week's Bourne Ultimatum premiere in London would most probably have had trouble noting any resemblance to her former on-screen persona.

Showcasing a slim-line new look in a black crochet dress, the London born-star - who spent more than half her life on the BBC series, making her debut aged ten in 1993 - was more elegant than ever before. Her change of image is a far cry from the unglamorous look which characterised troubled teen Sonia during her time on the show.

Moving on in the style stakes isn't the only change the 24-year-old has made to her life since leaving Albert Square in February. She has also been broadening her acting horizons by embarking on a stint treading the boards. Her most recent project saw her touring the UK as part of the cast of comedy play Bedroom Farce.

"I really wanted to do theatre, coming out of a soap after 13 years," says the actress about her new direction. "It was all I'd known and I wanted to learn a new craft and be scared again."

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The brunette actress looked svelte and glamorous as she attended a London premiere this weekPhoto: © Getty Images
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Her dramatic new red carpet-worthy image is in contrast to the more casual style she sported in years gone byPhoto: © Rex