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Soaps Interview

'Emmerdale' newcomer Tom Mannion reveals Steve role details

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Tom Mannion as Steve Harland

© ITV

Emmerdale welcomes a new face to its cast next week as Scottish-born actor Tom Mannion makes his first appearance in the role of Steve Harland.

Steve is a married man who has been having an affair with Bernice Blackstock (Samantha Giles) and now seems ready to make a go of things with her.

When Steve turns up in the village to see Bernice, he still hasn't been honest with his wife regarding his intentions - which prompts no-nonsense Nicola to take matters into her own hands!

Here, Tom reveals all the details on his new part and what viewers can expect from Steve.

What can you tell us about Steve?
"Steve arrives in Emmerdale to see Bernice, who he has been having an affair with. It's clear from the outset that Steve is a married man. He has been married for 25 years and to my knowledge they have no children.

"So Steve has taken up with Bernice, who has decided to move back up north to escape her problematic marriage which she believes is totally over. She's fled back to the safety of her family, but she is not being truthful to them over why she has returned home."

Steve still hasn't split from his wife, has he?
"I think he is supposed to have had a conversation with his wife. Bernice has expected this to happen and for them to have broken up over a holiday in Barbados. But it becomes clear that conversation hasn't happened - he has got cold feet or whatever.

"Steve's arrival into Emmerdale is a baptism of fire for him as he arrives to tell Bernice that he hasn't yet told his wife. But before he can get to the point, her sister Nicola gets hold of it. Nicola grabs Bernice's phone, calls the wife and tells her that this affair has been going on.

"With Nicola's interference and his marriage situation then wrecked, it's a rather explosive entrance."

How much can you give away about Steve's past and his affair with Bernice?
"This is presumption and assumption on my part, but from what I suspect, this is the first time this has happened to Steve. I don't think he has done this before - he's not a practiced philanderer. An affair is not the norm for him.

"I think Steve has been totally swept up by this gorgeous, attractive woman who has come into his life. He's just gone, 'Wow this is really different'. I don't think he expected it to go the way it has, and now he's terrified about his marriage break-up. He has found himself in a situation he isn't prepared for."

Does Steve have a career?
"Steve is a rather enthusiastic and passionate trainer, rider and breeder of horses. Racehorses in particular, and his life up until now has been very much focused on this career.

"From what research I have done on being a trainer, I know it's a full-time commitment and not unlike being a headmaster of a school. Essentially the owners are like parents and the horses their children. These owners have a lot of trust in you to get the best out of their protégé, but also have high expectations and demands. It's an all-consuming job and I don't think Steve found much time for anything else."

How is Steve feeling about everything now?
"Steve, with this affair and break-up, is now in unknown territory both emotionally and physically, as he's found himself following Bernice up to Emmerdale and now his marriage has broken up due to Nicola's interference and he's essentially got to make a fresh start."

Tom Mannion and Samantha Giles

© ITV



What will he do now that he's in the village?
"From what I read between the lines, I think he has got a bit of money and as there are a few horses around Emmerdale, he will pay his way by working with horses in the area."

You mentioned that you did some research for the role. How much did you have to do?
"I had a few conversations with a couple of trainers - in particular one of which used to train for the Queen - just really to get the lay of the land of what Steve's life might have been like. It's good to know, just to have in the background."

Would you like Steve if you met him?
"Yes, I think I would like Steve, as he seems a nice enough fella. He's a good bloke, although his moral compass is a bit questionable. I think he's baffled by this new world he has found himself in. He's not a game player and Bernice has been the one leading the whole thing."

What are Steve's clothes and costume like?
"I am really happy with Steve's clothes. I told Costume when I first arrived that I am easy to dress as I'm colour blind and have no taste. They were thrilled and said they wished everyone could say that!

"If I had to define Steve's style I'd probably say he's a bit 'country gent', which is different to me. I'm a neon boy."

What were your first scenes like to film?
"It was a question of running before I could walk, as Samantha Giles and I had not met before. So I arrived at the studios, changed into my costume and was then taken upstairs for some photographs. Samantha was there too, so that was where we first met. We posed for pictures and we needed to look like a couple so it was a question of 'Can I put my arms around you?' to look a couple for the pictures.

"Then we went onto set and our first scenes were kissing scenes. Straight in! I didn't at the time know how long Steve and Bernice had been together.

"It has been interesting since, as I've been piecing together Bernice's past and I have had a word with John Middleton too, and he's given me Ashley's version of events so it's been interesting to hear that. I now realise she's got an interesting history in the village and is linked to so many of the characters.

"Also I've worked out that Bernice has a chequered track record in bringing up children - she left Gabby behind in the village and now her other daughter is down south at a school."

6415: Steve arrives at the Woolpack, wanting to talk to Bernice

© ITV



How easy has it been to settle into such an established show?
"Do you know, I have had the loveliest welcome from everyone. It is so friendly and I actually know a couple of people such as directors, which was good. Every department has made me feel so welcome."

What can you tell us about your previous work?
"Largely I'm a theatre man, especially Shakespeare. But the last television job I did was a drama called Inside Men which was about a heist of a counting house.

"I was also in Spooks - I got killed in that. In fact, I did a whole spate of things where I got killed - I was killed in something called Identity. I hope they don't kill me off too quickly here - it's an occupational hazard and I have heard Emmerdale is quite a dangerous place. Soaps tend to have a high death count! I also was in Life on Mars and I was in Hustle too, which was great."

What first inspired you to get into acting?
"I was in a pub when I was 17 and I met this girl. I was at that gauche age and I just thought she was just amazing, really nice. We started chatting and she told me that she was going to go to drama school, and I have to admit I was smitten. I liked the person I was with her, and I just knew that I wanted to meet her again. So on a whim I auditioned for the same drama school and amazingly I got in.

"Unfortunately, she didn't! So I never saw her ever again. I don't know who she was, but she changed my life."

Did you watch Emmerdale before joining the show?
"I watched Emmerdale growing up, particularly as I broke my leg during my O Levels, so instead of revising I was tuning into Emmerdale. And I've been watching recently. I watched the Emmerdale live episode and I thought it was amazing. Even though I didn't know anyone, I felt so proud of them."

Have you worked with any of the cast before?
"I do know Rik Makarem who plays Nikhil in the show as he was at Glasgow Royal College of Music and Drama. In fact, I was his mentor whilst he was at drama school. So it was a lovely surprise to see him again. He is with the same agent as well. I have also worked with Mark Charnock before on Cadfael with Derek Jacobi about 15 years ago."

Finally, we've heard that the assistant directors at Emmerdale are calling you 'Mr Star Wars'! Why is that?
"Well… A long time ago in a galaxy… no seriously, I played Star Destroyer Captain Number Two in Return of the Jedi. I did a day's filming and had a couple of lines on it - I can still remember the lines I had!

"Anyway, after we'd finished I turned up to the cast and crew showing, but realised while watching the screening that my bit was cut and all the lines were with the Star Destroyer Captain Number One. The funny thing is my name goes up on the credits, but as far as I'm aware I'm not actually in the film, as all my lines were cut!

"There is a director's cut being shown at the moment which I might watch just to double check, but as far as I know my day's filming ended up on the cutting room floor. The funny thing is, I do get fan mail as people just write to all the actors listed on the credits even though I don't appear in the film!"

> Read the latest 'Emmerdale' spoilers and news

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV1, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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