Sophie Powles (Emmerdale) Interview

John and Moira Barton arrive in Emmerdale with their three teenage children Hannah, Holly and Adam in July, having upsized their successful farm to take over Butler’s.

The warm, likeable and picture perfect family quickly settle into Emmerdale life, but will the locals be ready to welcome them with open arms? It certainly won’t be plain sailing after a dramatic accident looks set to spell a volatile relationship with the Wyldes.

> Find out the latest Emmerdale spoilers.

The Barton’s eldest daughter, free-spirited teenager Holly, will be played by Britannia High actress Sophie Powles.

How did your role in Emmerdale come about?

I received a call from my agent telling me that I’d got an audition at Emmerdale which was a great opportunity. I went for my first audition and subsequent recalls before being asked back to attend a workshop. I finally got down to the final four and did a screen test with Natalie and James. After that I waited all weekend but my agent called me to say I’d got the part which was awesome. I was so chuffed and my family were really pleased. Four days later I was in Leeds having my hair dyed brown, then we went shopping for costume and a couple of days later I was filming my first scene. It happened so quickly at the end.

Did you watch the show before getting the part?

When I was younger I used to watch it all the time. I remember watching it and thinking it was so cool and really wanted to be a part of it. I always wanted to act and especially because it’s a northern show and my family live just down the road in Otley, so I’ve got a strong Yorkshire connection. I did my first scene in the Woolpack and I was just amazed at how real it was and I feel so lucky to be doing a job I enjoy on a show that I love. It’s really cool.

Were you nervous on your first day?

I was really, really nervous. Then I met the other members of my on-screen family and I couldn’t wish for nicer people to work with. That made me relax so much and when we did our first scenes together we were all working so hard to get it right. We all supported each other and it was just lovely. I know what a big deal it is to be given such a big part in such a huge show, so I’m not taking it for granted. I’m going to work hard.

What other shows will viewers recognise you from?

I did Holby City when I was 13 and then Dalziel and Pascoe when I was 16 both for the BBC. Most recently I was in Britannia High on ITV about a year ago where I played Ronnie the dinner lady from Grimsby.

What can you tell us about Holly?

She’s just a young girl who’s really comfortable in her own skin. She loves who she is and she’s really happy. She’s not image conscious and doesn’t waste time thinking ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too thin’. She’s not the girl who flicks through fashion magazines to decide what she’s going to wear for a night out; she just wears what she’s comfortable in. She’s got a nice life and a good family, who she’s very loyal to. She’s quite innocent and has never had a boyfriend, so perhaps she’s a bit naïve too.

How does she relate to the different members of her family?

I think she’s really close to her mum. Her mum was quite young when she had Holly so they’ve got a strong bond. She’s close to her dad too and both parents are really supportive. There’s only a year’s gap between Holly and Adam so they’ve grown up together and he’s quite protective of her. She loves Hannah to bits and whenever they argue it’s always with an undertone of fun – they tease each other.

What do you think Holly will be getting up to in the village?

I don’t really know what she’s going to be getting up to yet, but I hope she has a lot of fun doing it! I think Holly is the kind of girl who will get on with anybody. If she meets somebody she’ll become friends with them. She wouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I can’t wait to get my teeth into some really good storylines, have a good time and spend lots of time with my on-screen family.

Holly’s a character who’s very popular with the boys. Which Emmerdale residents do you think she’ll set her sights on?

Holly wouldn’t go for someone who was typically good-looking. She might go for someone you wouldn’t normally expect because she’s the kind of girl who would see something in a person that other people can’t. I think she’ll have some unexpected friendships and relationships, but they’ll work. Maybe someone’s a bad boy but Holly would find the good in them. That might get her into trouble and she could lose her way a bit. She doesn’t go for the obvious.

Don’t miss the Barton family’s arrival in Emmerdale on Friday 17th July 2009 at 7pm on ITV1