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Emmerdale actor Bill Ward: 'James has a big problem with Cain'

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Emmerdale's new Barton arrivals

© ITV

The new Bartons: James, Ross, Pete and Finn


Emmerdale newcomer James Barton moves in with former sister-in-law Moira at Butler's next week after his own farm is repossessed.

James is forced into the idea by his sons Pete and Finn, but he has mixed feelings about living under Moira's roof and having to deal with Cain Dingle.

Here, Bill Ward - who plays James - previews the big changes ahead for his character.

How has James got himself into financial ruin?
"Well he has been chasing his wayward son Ross around. Ross has always been trouble. James has singlehandedly brought up his three kids, as his wife left him early on. We don't know exactly when and we're not sure exactly why, but James has certainly been bringing up his three kids on his own for more than 10 years, and Ross has always been a handful.

"Ross has always needed the most attention but because he's one of three sons, he hasn't got it. Over the last couple of years in particular, James has been looking for Ross after he went missing. During that time his farm has been run by Pete, his eldest son."

Would you say Pete is capable?
"Pete is very good at running the farm, but he can't make the sort of big strategic decisions that you need to make if you're in that business. So while the farm has been ticking over, lots of really important stuff that needed to be sorted out for the future hasn't been done, which means that the farm is losing money and going out of business."

Is James in denial about having his farm repossessed?
"He's not in denial - he knows it's happening, but he's fighting it. Basically what's happened is that he and a number of the other farmers have got a deal together, but James is holding out on a deal with the supermarkets. James has managed to get one very good deal with one supermarket in particular, but they keep trying to drop the price that they're prepared to pay for his cattle and he's not having it.

"All of the other farmers have given in except James. He's a very principled man and he doesn't like to be mucked about. Regardless of how heavy the consequences of his decision are, he's going to go through with it anyway. So basically, even if it means ruin, then that's the way he's going to go. James doesn't think that's going to happen - he thinks he's going win in the end by toughing it out, but actually quite the reverse occurs."

Moira goes to visit James's farm

© ITV

Moira's recent visit to James's farm


Is James embarrassed that Moira is now aware of how deep his work problems run?
"Yeah he is, because he's a proud man as well. He's a farmer and he was a very good one before Ross ran away. James is a pedigree, prize-winning farmer so he's very good at what he does. The trouble is that the circumstances surrounding the demise of his farm are not of his own making - they're of Ross's making.

"James is embarrassed because he's seen what great nick Moira's farm is in. Moira has always run a good farm and he knows that, so he's just slightly embarrassed that he's let his run down to the extent that it has."

It sounds like James starts to become slightly over-friendly with Moira. Is he misreading her concern?
"Well it's partly wishful thinking on his part. James has always carried a torch for Moira. We don't really know what's happened in the past, but there is some history between them. Actually it's quite possible that he fell out with his brother John over her.

"James would like there to be something there with Moira, but he is not a ladies' man - it just doesn't interest him. What he's interested in is his boys and his business."

How does James feel when he learns that Pete and Finn have asked to stay at Butler's Farm?
"Well, James comes across them one day unloading their cattle onto Moira's farm. James's point is that as soon as you move the cattle off the land, the bailiffs will take it over. What James had wanted to do is sit tight and make a stand, but his boys have decided that for him. So James turns up at Butler's with his family through no desire of his own. He would have stayed put and fought his corner.

"James takes up the offer to move to Butler's because his sons have physically moved, the bailiffs have been round and he's got nowhere else to go. They're essentially homeless."

How does James feel about having to rely on Moira now?
"Pretty terrible, because he's a very self-reliant man. Like I say, he's been bringing up his kids on his own and running his business on his own for some considerable time. Now he's suddenly in somebody else's house, not earning any money and not being able to run his own business."

Cain watches Moira with James.

© ITV

Cain watches Moira with James.


What does James make of Cain?
"Well he can't be doing with Cain, and I'll tell you why he can't be doing with Cain - it's because Cain got his son into trouble. And that's his problem with Cain - he's much less bothered about the fact that Cain is with Moira because, like I say, in James's world she's quite far down the list of things that are important to him right now.

"Right now James has very serious problems in that he doesn't have a business and he has nowhere to live. Those are the two problems that he's trying to solve. Cain is part of the problem because Cain has got his son into trouble and is part of the reason why he hasn't been at home on his farm. Cain is therefore part of the reason that his business has gone down the tubes. So James has a big problem with Cain because he has essentially led Ross astray, and also because he doesn't think ultimately that he treats Moira right."

There's a point in the story where Moira has a farmers' party and invites James as her guest. How does he react?
"Well, James wants to go to this farmers' party because he wants to make some contacts. Moira has got an invitation that is not being used, so James says to her, 'It says here plus one - do you mind if I use it?' Moira says, 'Well I'll do better than that - you don't have to just use my invitation, I'll come with you'. James is quite chuffed about that because, like I say, lurking somewhere deep in James's past is a torch that he is carrying for Moira.

"I don't think James has dated women for years, so he's slightly fingers and thumbs and he doesn't really know what to do. But his main reason for going out that night is not to date her or steal her from Cain, it's to get his business back on its feet. However, there is a very pleasant side-effect, which is that he gets to spend an evening with his heart's desire, regardless of whether he actually makes a move on her, which he certainly doesn't."

Zak gets worried about James and Moira, so decides to call Cain to come home. What happens when Cain returns?
"There is a fronting out between James and Cain. Cain has completely got the wrong end of the stick, thinking that James and Moira are having a romantic night out. Those face-off scenes with James and Cain are always fun to do."

Is there a part of James which thinks he could win Moira's heart?
"Yes, but the point about James is that he's highly principled, and he's not going to go around stealing another man's woman. That's just not on his list of things. Yes if she was free and available he would be very interested, but she isn't."

Natalie J Robb as Moira Dingle in Emmerdale

© ITV

Natalie J Robb plays Moira


Is James intending to stick around at Butler's?
"Well, he doesn't want to be there. If he could leave tomorrow, he would. That's why he goes to the farmers' dance - he's self-reliant and he looks after his own business. He just wants to be living in his own place, running his own business and making his own money like he used to do. James can't wait to get off Moira's farm. But he realises that right now, that's where he needs to be because he doesn't have anywhere else to go.

"The idea in the short term is for James to go into business with Moira. He'd merge his herd with Moira's, but he doesn't want that to happen for the long term because he wants his own status and his own farm back."

How are you finding life at Emmerdale?
"I haven't worked this kind of a schedule for some considerable time, and it's great fun. It's a great crew and great cast, and there's good fun on set. We're just trying to make the best show we can and I've really enjoyed it. I had quite a staggered start with filming, so I'm just now starting to feel like I'm getting a handle on who this guy is."

Do you think James is going to be a worthy adversary for Cain?
"James is only worried about Cain so long as Cain is a bad influence on anybody he knows. So, if Cain crosses James, James will be very interested and will absolutely stand his territory, as he's not afraid of Cain. He does also respect Cain. James respects Cain because Cain knows what he wants, and Cain is a self-made man himself. As well as that, Cain looks after himself and he looks after the people he's with.

"James particularly respects Cain because Cain doesn't take any rubbish - and neither does James Barton. In that kind of a sense, there is a strong mutual respect actually, because Cain has got where he's got through sheer force of personality. James has got a lot of time for that."

How are you finding working with Jeff Hordley, who plays Cain?
"He's just a lovely, lovely man. He is just a magnificent fella and he has been unbelievably welcoming and kind to me since I've joined. Funnily enough, I know a guy who's good mates with him."

What about the cows in the farming scenes?
"They're big beasts, aren't they? They don't seem to like me very much! I like cows, but they don't particularly like me. They're kind of scary beasts - I find them terribly scary. I spent a day with Nigel, who's one of the farmer consultants on the show. I went round his farm and a number of other farms in the area, just saying hello to cows and a few sheep as well.

"I was just getting the measure of the farming business, really. You obviously can't do that in a day, but it gives you a flavour of it. I've also read a few books about it like you do, and I've watched a few things on the internet."

Have you driven a tractor before?
"Not recently, but actually a long, long time ago - when I was a student actually - a friend of mine ran an arable farm. I worked on that farm for two months. I drove a tractor then, and I've done all sorts of things. My dad's a butcher as well, so I've been to the market and I know all that side to it."

Additional reporting by Daniel Welsh.

Read more Emmerdale spoilers and news

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with extra episodes at 8pm on Thursdays.

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