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'Wicked' actress joins 'Emmerdale'

By
Natalie Anderson

© Rex Features

West End actress Natalie Anderson is to swap the fictional realm of Oz for the Yorkshire Dales later this year as she joins the cast of Emmerdale.

The 28-year-old - whose year-long stage stint as Nessarose, The Wicked Witch of the East in the award-winning musical Wicked came to an end in March - takes on the role of Leyla Harding's (Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi) fiery sibling Alicia.

Described as "brassy and trashy and full of attitude", Alicia bounds into village in the summer and makes it clear from the outset that she has unfinished business with Leyla, who has only recently settled down with boyfriend David (Matthew Wolfenden).

With their relationship far from perfect, Leyla's forced to deal with Alicia's arrival in an attempt to keep her "murky and scandal-ridden" past buried.

Speaking of her casting, Anderson said: Natalie says: "I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining the show. It'll be wonderful to be working back home in Yorkshire again. I'm a Yorkshire girl so a part in Emmerdale is a dream come true!

She added: "Alicia is a complex character, she's not all she seems and she's set to make life quite complicated for Leyla."

Series producer Gavin Blyth commented: "We're delighted to have Natalie on board. She's a great actress and a wonderful addition to the cast. Alicia will start stirring things up in Leyla's life the minute she sets foot in the village."

Anderson - who also starred as nurse Stella Davenport in The Royal - is due to begin filming at the rural soap's home in Leeds next month, and will make her screen debut in August. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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