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Chris Bisson on the Sharmas, Charity and 'West Is West'

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Ex-Coronation Street star Chris Bisson goes all rural on us next week when he switches Weatherfield for Emmerdale, taking on the role of sweet factory boss Jai Sharma.

Like me, you're probably unsure how to say his character's first name. I attempted 'J-eye' while chatting to Chris, but he promptly corrected my incompetence - it's actually pronounced 'Jay'.

Formalities over, I went on to an extremely pleasant interview about how he's settled into village life, his character and his new screen co-stars Rik Makarem and Effie Woods. The fruits of my chat with Chris can be found here.

Here, though, I present a selection of bonus bits which didn't make it to the final version of the main interview. Below, Chris chats about Jai's screen siblings and Charity's return.



How does Jai get on with his siblings?
"He gets on really well with them. His little sister [Priya] he looks after and adores and she can do no wrong. His brother Nikhil is the heir apparent to the family empire. He's running the business and Jai is there to help as far as he's concerned. The backstory being that Jai had left the family business and set up a chain of mobile phone shops, sold them at the top of the market, and now has a load of money.

"Mum and dad have now gone away and Jai is kind of babysitting Nikhil running the family empire. Obviously, that's a point of conflict straightaway because Nikhil sees him as having money and no responsibility, but interfering in the running of the factory. Nikhil's a straight guy - he's very considered - whereas Jai will take chances, he's a bit of a maverick, he can talk people round, he can get the best out of people and that's irritating for Nikhil because he's not at all like his big brother."

Have you gelled well as a family unit?
"Absolutely - we've played quite a few scenes together now which have been really great, actually. I met Rik [Makarem] who plays Nikhil and Effie [Woods] who plays Priya when we were doing the screen tests for them, so I'd played scenes with them before they arrived at Emmerdale. It's a great family unit - great banter and the characters are very clearly defined so they work well together."

The families start off on quite a slow burn, don't they?
"Well, we take over the factory so we're in the mix and employing some of the locals, so we're here instantly but the big waves and the big storylines don't come immediately. The smaller stories like getting to know the Dingles and the Pollards of this world - there's quite a lot of nice comedy - well not comedy - but nice funny scenes, obviously it doesn't go slapstick on Emmerdale! There's definitely big stuff to come but the opening few months is setting up the characters and getting them into the village, working out who their friends and foes are. Then the writers can have a really clear look and the actors have had a chance to get hold of the characters properly - that's the point when we can really drive the big storylines."

Are you looking forward to Emma Atkins returning as Charity?
"Yes - Emma returning will be great. I've never worked with her before but she was in the year below me at university at Salford so I do know Emma. I knew quite a few of the other actors as well because it's quite a small world, the acting world. We all meet up at awards and there's a very friendly rivalry between the soaps. We're all mates off screen but we talk it up in interviews to get the headlines and column inches!"

> Click here to read what Chris has to say about West Is West and the plans for a trilogy

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