Michelle Hardwick of The Royal fame, Life on Mars’ Tom Mannion, Wil Johnson of Waking the Dead and Tendai Rinomhota of Waterloo Road are to join the 40-year-old Yorkshire soap.

Emmerdale bosses say that the Vet’s surgery will be shaken up with the arrival of Rhona’s wild friend from college Vanessa Woodfield.

Embodying the motto ‘work hard, play hard’ the self-assured party girl is like a breath of fresh air when she arrives at the Vet’s practice. Vanessa is plain-speaking, always up for a laugh and instantly clashes with Rhona’s husband Paddy.

Woodfield is played by Hardwick, who says, “As a local girl and a fan of the show, Emmerdale is my dream job,” adding, “After only two days I am starting to feel at home already and Vanessa is such a fun character I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.”

Next to make his way into the Village is Steve Harland who isn’t a player, just a passionate, optimistic man who likes to get the most out of life.

Steve is played by Mannion who says of his latest role, “I’m really looking forward to the adventure that is Emmerdale.”

Steve is to be the partner of returning character Bernice, the former vicars wife who left the village in 2004 played by Samantha Giles. The qualities that attracted Steve to Bernice – her energy, spontaneity and quirkiness – may be the very things that end up driving him mad!

Mechanic Dominic Andrews and his wayward teenage daughter Gemma also arrive in the Village. Dominic is still finding his feet as a single dad whilst doing his best to protect his 14-year-old daughter played by Rinomhota.

“I can’t wait to get started,” says Johnson who plays Andrews, “I am looking forward to an exciting journey. I’ve been told anything could happen with my character.” He adds.

Michelle and Tom have already filmed their first scenes, whilst Wil and Tendai are due to begin filming in the next few weeks.

Series Producer Stuart Blackburn added: “It’s an exciting new season for Emmerdale and we are delighted to welcome Michelle, Tom, Wil and Tendai to the cast.”

Emmerdale marked the 40th anniversary since the launch of the long distant memory that was Emmerdale Farm last week with a live episode.

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV1

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