How are you settling in?
"Good, thanks! Nice gentle start, not too overloaded with scenes although I've got two big days in the new factory coming up. The set's great - there's an office on one side, a tea room and locker room on the other side and a conveyor belt that comes out in the middle, and all the workers have to sit there picking sweets off it. We haven't actually tested it yet so we have no idea how fast the sweets are going to come down and how fast we're going to have to work - we'll find all that out tomorrow!"
How did the part come about?
"It came about in a really nice way, actually. I'd worked with the current producer Gavin [Blyth] previously, when I was on Coronation Street and he phoned me up one day, out of the blue, and said would you consider coming back to soap world? I said that I would actually, it's been quite a while - six years - so he said, 'We're starting to talk about a new family in Emmerdale so if you're interested, I'll keep you in the loop about it'. It kind of progressed organically from there."
What made you decide to do soap again?
"I missed it! I obviously spent a long time where I was doing dramas and one-offs and comedy and that sort of thing, and just quite fancied a new challenge to be honest with you. Emmerdale's a great show - it's really on the up and becoming stronger and stronger. There were conversations about returning to Corrie but it would have been going over old ground, Emmerdale was a much newer and fresher challenge."
How does it feel to be a part of a show that's reinventing itself?
"It's great to be part of a new show. You've got new characters coming in, new actors - a lot of really talented, experienced actors - and a great team of directors and writers as well. Gavin's pulled his best team around him and it really shows in the scripts. They're really well-written and crafted. When you first start on a show, you're not sure what your script's going to be like or if your character's well-defined, and our new family have been from the start."
What can you tell us about the new family?
"We take over Pollard's factory and we're making sweets - I'm not sure what the brand is yet but the factory is called Sharma and Sharma. I'm about to go and do my first scene on the factory floor today where they've got the boxes and sweets set up, so I've nicked one of the sweets and eaten it already but I haven't actually - I took one back for my girlfriend! She asked me to nick her a sweet off the set! I was like, 'I'm not allowed to do it, you know that', so I had to surreptitiously sneak one into my costume pocket and then transfer it - I didn't want to get in trouble on my first day. They're very nice, actually!"
Tell us a bit about your character?
"Jai is a very relaxed character, quite fun-loving, a bit of an eye for the ladies which will maybe land him in trouble from time to time, but he's got a nice character - he's not a Dirty Den or a womaniser. He does flirt with some of the ladies in the show but he gets told they've got partners and backs off. The first girl he comes into contact with is Leyla - she gives him short shrift. He says, 'I might meet you in the pub for a drink later', and she says, 'Yeah, well you might and I might be with my boyfriend', so he's put back there straightaway. He goes out for dinner with Faye, apparently - I haven't read that script yet so it's still a rumour as far as I'm concerned, but it came from a very good source - and he has a bit of a flirtation with Nicola in a couple of scenes in the Woolpack which Jimmy is none too pleased about."
Is he different to your previous character Vik on Coronation Street?
"He's not really like Vik at all. Vik was a chancer, constantly tripping up and making mistakes, getting himself into bother - Jai's not like that. He's a more considered character, more fun-loving - a lot more easygoing than Vikram was."
Does working on Emmerdale mean that you couldn't go back to Corrie for its 50th anniversary if you were asked?
"I have no idea - that would be a decision for the network centre. If ITV wanted me to be back in Corrie for the 50th, I doubt that would happen because then I would be in two shows at the same time and they need to be mutually exclusive. People might get confused!"
> Click here to read more from Chris Bisson in Soap Scoop
> Click here to read Chris Bisson's take on West Is West and a potential trilogy