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Meet the Bartons - Emmerdale's new Dales dynasty

A NEW farming dynasty by the name of Barton descends on the Dales this month.

John and Moira Barton, along with their three teenage children, Hanna, Adam and Holly will take up residence in Butler's Farm.

But don't let the picture-perfect family deceive you, for they're about to cause a huge stir in soapland.

Here we meet Emmerdale's newest family and the actors who play them.

John Barton (James Thornton)

Bradford-born James Thornton, who plays John Barton, says the Emmerdale audition was the most frightening he's ever done.

"I've grown up with the show because I was brought up 20 minutes from where we film, so it's been a part of my life since childhood," he says.

Fortunately the actor had a background in farming to fall back on. "I was brought up for 18 years of my life in an old farmhouse and we had a farm about 500 yards away from us, so I used to help them with the harvest every year. I've had to have a tractor lesson though because I've never driven one before!"

Although James describes his character as a "laid-back family man", he says viewers can still expect fireworks and feuds.

"There are definitely going to be confrontations with the Dingles," he says. "John will enjoy that battle and give as good as he gets."

There's no doubt James will receive his fair share of fan mail but he says his number one fan has to be his wife, Gavin and Stacey actress Joanna Page.

"When we first met we did a costume drama together called David Copperfield and I played a fisherman. She said that was why she fell for me because I looked rugged. So the prospect of a sexy farmer appeals to her!"

Moira Barton (Natalie J Robb)

"I'm looking forward to getting behind the bar and pulling a few pints," says Natalie J Robb, who plays Moira Barton, Emmerdale's newest barmaid. "My mum and dad were publicans so I've had a bit of practice."

Fun-loving and feisty, Moira is guaranteed to cause a stir with the locals down at the Woolpack although the most volatile relationship will be with hapless chef Marlon. "Moira generally gets on with everybody," says Natalie. "However, you'll see her and Marlon develop a love-hate relationship, which will be interesting."

Natalie says the arrival of the Barton family should bring a lot of freshness to the farm. "There are families out there that do work together and aren't dysfunctional, so the chance to represent one of those groups really drew me to the role," she says.

Previously seen in The Bill and EastEnders, it was during a stint in Waterloo Road that she first met Adam Thomas, who's now playing her son. "It was only last year so I was chuffed to bits when I heard he'd got the part," she says. "He's a very good-looking, cheeky boy. It's an attractive offspring we seem to have made!

Holly Barton (Sophie Powles)

Playing the eldest Barton child is Sophie Powles, who you may recognise from ITV's ill-fated Britannia High, and the young actress can't believe her luck. "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," she says.

"When I was younger, I used to watch Emmerdale all the time. I remember watching it and thinking it was so cool and really wanted to be a part of it, 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."

Sophie says Holly "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'."

Holly may never have had a boyfriend but she's not going to be short of an admirer or two, although Sophie's quick to say: "Holly wouldn't go for someone who was typically good-looking. She doesn't go for the obvious."

Admitting to being "really, really nervous" on the first day on set she thanks her new on-screen family for helping her through.

"I couldn't wish for nicer people to work with. They made me relax so much and when we did our first scenes together we were all working so hard to get it right."

Now Sophie's relaxed into the busy filming schedule, she says she can't wait to get her teeth into some really juicy storylines. "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!"

Adam Barton (Adam Thomas)

Adam Thomas is all set for some soap rivalry with his real-life brother Ryan, who plays Coronation Street's Jason Grimshaw. "Hopefully we might be up against each other for the sexiest male award at the Soap Awards - that would be funny!" says Adam.

"Ryan was even happier than I was when I got the part in Emmerdale. And mum's over the moon having both her boys in soaps."

Describing his character as "stubborn but very deadpan," Adam's looking forward to some great lines in the future. "School's not for him. He's keen to emulate his father's success and work on the farm," he says.

Like Sophie, Adam says he's thankful for having a ready-made support system in the shape of his on-screen family. "I think it would be scarier if I was coming in on my own but we're all new to the show," he says. "We all get on really well, so it's really exciting."

Hannah Barton (Grace Cassidy)

Grace Cassidy, who plays the Bartons' youngest family member, says she nearly failed an exam after being told she'd got the part.

"I was revising chemistry for my GCSE exams when my agent called to say I'd got the part," she says. "For the rest of the night I was so happy that I couldn't concentrate, so I didn't get much work done!"

Grace says the move to Emmerdale marks a fresh star for Hannah and the rest of the Barton family and she's looking forward to playing her character who she describes as "fun-loving, lively and energetic".

"She's willing to try anything new and welcomes the opportunity to make new friends," says Grace. As for who's she's looking forward to on-screen time with, she says it has to be Victoria Sugden. "They might get up to a bit of mischief. It will be interesting to see if they become friends or enemies."

She's also interested to see what dramas are in store for the family. "At the moment it seems like a really happy family unit," she says. "But nothing seems to run smoothly for long in Emmerdale, so we'll have to wait and see if it stays that way."

EXTRA TIME - EMMERDALE

Emmerdale first aired on October 16, 1972 and was known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989.

The soap focused on the farm and the Sugden family who lived on and ran it but as time passed the focus shifted to Beckindale, as the village was known until the 1994 plane crash.

The soap's just celebrated reaching its 5,000th episode anniversary.

Butler's Farm, where the Bartons will reside, is in real life a working farm called Brookland Farm located in the village of Eccup.

 
 
 

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