Soap new boy Joshua Richards is thrilled to be on Emmerdale but his success is tinged with sadness.
Joshua cut a very strange figure on the ITV soap when he pitched up in the village looking like a stoneage man.
In fact he plays Bear Wolf, a hairy, ageing wrestler and raises questions over whether or not he is Paddy Kirk’s biological dad.
Joshua’s mum Jean, who adored Emmerdale, would have loved to see him in the colourful role but tragically she died last year, aged 80.
Speaking as he filmed special scenes in Belfast, Joshua said: “My mum Jean was an ardent fan.
“We watched it when it was Emmerdale Farm and she would have been over the moon that I was doing it but we lost her last year.
“It’s really sad that she couldn’t be around to watch me in it.
“She didn’t know I got the part. I just thought, if only my mum was here to see this.”
Joshua has found his transition from stage and film to soap fairly smooth.
The actor has appeared in Hollwood blockbusters such as Troy with Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom and for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Henry V and Richard II.
He said of his new role: “It’s my first soap and I love it. It’s not as daunting as I thought it would be. Everyone is so friendly.
“The learning curve is quicker. I’m used to doing large roles in the theatre where you have a long time to learn it.
“With this you throw out your short-term memory. It’s a new habit to get into.”
Joshua also revealed his larger than life character is modelled on the late, 6ft 11in wrestling legend Giant Haystacks, who died in 1998 aged 52.
He said: “The outfits are great. It’s lovely that they’ve modelled him on Giant Haystacks.
“It works for me because it’s not spandex or budgie smugglers. And wrestling is very much theatre.
“Where I live in Yorkshire is where Big Daddy trained so I know it well. My neighbours knew him. There are lots of stories about his entire family.”
Earlier this month Paddy, played by Dominic Brunt, faced Bear for the first time since learning he may be his dad.
But Bear denied having heard of Paddy’s mum and drove off in anger.
Next month Paddy heads to Northern Ireland to front up Bear and finally get him to accept he’s his father.
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Joshua believes there could be a happy ending in store for the pair.
He said: “For all his crassness and boastfulness I think underneath there’s somebody rather warm and generous.
“He’s a man I see as being a little bit lonely and who would open up and share more, with a little encouragement.”
He added: “I think he will be quite grateful to receive any kind of attention and love which is genuine, not just for this persona that he’s been inhabiting for so long.”
- Emmerdale, Monday, ITV, 7pm
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