Nichola Dixon: Former Intake pupil is Bingo Night Live presenter

She grew up with a host of famous names, but former Intake pupil Nichola Dixon says she's now ready to be a star in her own right.

"I remember playing bingo with my mum at the Mecca," says Nichola Dixon. "I think I was about 16 at the time. It wasn't a very cool thing to do back then."

It's a long way from the Mecca bingo hall on New York Street to a glitzy ITV gameshow – but Nichola is settling right into her new role on Bingo Night Live.

The 33-year-old says she is loving life on the late night show fronted by Melinda Messenger and Michael Underwood.

"People keep calling me the next Carol Vorderman," she laughs. "But I wouldn't say I'm a maths genius like she is.

"I'm the link between the computer and the viewers, giving them the latest stats about who's playing and where the winners are.

"It's a lot of fun and we've had more than 2,000 winners already. It's a bit nerve-racking because it goes out live so that means you have to be at your very best."

Nichola is a former pupil of Leeds's so-called 'Fame school'.

Scary Spice Melanie Brown was in her year, as was Rebecca Callard, daughter of Coronation Street star Beverley Callard and who is now an actress in her own right.

Angela Griffin, who would go on to appear in Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Cutting It and Waterloo Road, was in the year below.

"It was written all over Mel that she was going to be a star," says Nichola of the Spice Girl.

"She was very cheeky and exactly as you see her, so full of confidence and always playing jokes on people.

"After Intake we both went to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Chapeltown, the only two from our school. We became closer when we went there.

"Mel was crazy. There were all these prim and proper ballet dancers and then there was her. She was by far the most talented dancer but she was nuts. But it was a nice nuts.

"We kept in touch for a while and I used to see her around Leeds but we haven't spoken for about four or five years.

"It's a shame because it's nice that we're both still doing it (working in entertainment)."

Nichola ended up having to quit dance school after suffering a serious back injury.

She eventually graduated from Leeds University with a degree in English, music, drama and philosophy.

A stint in the world of modelling followed, alongside a job working as cabin crew for an airline.

She also dipped her toe in the acting world with fleeting appearances as an extra in shows such as Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

Her big break in television came when she landed a job at Channel One, a cable station in Liverpool.

She learned the ropes as a presenter and also trained to become a journalist.

From there she was plucked to be a weather presenter for local news programme North West Tonight which involved an intensive training course at the Met Office in London.

Not content with just being a weather girl, she was soon presenting slots on regional current affairs show Inside Out.

Along with all that she can also lay claim to have appeared in a number of hit programmes, even if more often than not they saw her in blink-and-you'll-miss-it roles.

As well as landing presenting work with BBC News 24 she was also in the running for a leading role in recent ITV drama Rock Rivals and as the temporary replacement for Fern Britten on This Morning.

"I love that show so much and got so excited when I was doing my audition and the theme music started up.

"I would have been filling in during the summer and I got down to the last two before losing out to Denise Van Outen."

Now Nichola is back on our screens as part of the team of Bingo Night Live, which goes out five nights a week after midnight from Tuesday to Saturday.

The show offers viewers the chance to play free bingo and win cash prizes with a jackpot of 25,000.

"Bingo has become so popular in recent years," says Nichola, who lives in Huddersfield with husband Edward Donnelly, crew manager at Hunslet Fire Station in Leeds.

"It's become quite a trendy thing to do and it's no longer embarrassing to say you play bingo.

"We're getting more and more people signing up to play and there are a lot of 18-year-olds.

"I'm just so honoured to be working with Melinda and Michael, who are both big names. I feel really lucky to be doing what I'm doing.

"A numerologist told me this was going to be my year and so far it's looking good!"