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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Emmerdale strike over Soapstars denied
Soap stars
The new family was chosen from thousands of hopefuls
Performers' union Equity has denied claims that the cast of ITV1 soap Emmerdale have refused to work with the winning "family" of the Soapstars talent show.

Equity press officer Martin Brown said on Monday there was "no truth" in reports in the Daily Star that Emmerdale's actors had threatened to take industrial action.

Mr Brown added that the paper had rehashed a story from September when the Emmerdale cast did voice concerns over having to work with amateurs as a result of Soapstars.

Soapstars, which ended on Saturday, discovered a new family for Emmerdale after trawling through 6,000 hopefuls from all over the nation.
Emmerdale
Emmerdale members did not want to work with amateurs

The new TV family - a mother, father and three teenage children - is due to start work on the show this week.

The Daily Star reported that the Emmerdale cast had complained to Equity about how the new family had won their roles.

The paper said the cast were threatening to strike because they considered Soapstars to have "cheapened" Emmerdale.

'Welcome'

Mr Brown said the cast voiced concerns in September about working with inexperienced people.

But he added that that complaint no longer applied as each member of the new family had acted before.

He said the "mother" and "father" both had Equity cards, the "son" had been to drama college and the "daughters" had also acted.

A spokesman for Emmerdale backed up Mr Brown's comments that the newspaper reports were "rehashed".

"There were differing opinions way back when Soapstars was first announced and it is true to say that there were meetings between Equity and management," said the spokesman.

"But this is all in the past. All five members of our new family have acting experience and most of them are members of Equity.

"Contrary to what the Daily Star says, they have been extended a warm welcome at Emmerdale."

Theatre

Emmerdale's new members were picked by drama producer Yvon Grace, casting director Paul de Freitas and Emmerdale scriptwriter Bill Lyons.

Dee Whitehead, 42, from Nottingham was chosen to be the family's mother.

Hear'Say
Hear'Say were discovered by Popstars

She gave up hairdressing six years ago to become an actress and has had parts in Crossroads and Playing The Field.

Mark Jardine, 40, will play the father, after having been a professional actor for 15 years, mainly in the theatre.

Elspeth Brodie, 19, is a drama student from Edinburgh who has acted in commercials, a radio play and in the theatre.

Jason Hain, 21, studied drama at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and has appeared on stage in The Winslow Boy, The Tempest and Guys and Dolls.

Ruth Abram, 23, comes from Preston in Lancashire and graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a performing arts degree.

The five will make their Emmerdale screen debut in a few weeks.

Soapstars was a follow-up to the successful fly-on-the-wall show Popstars.

The show, which also saw thousands of hopefuls queuing up to become stars, found and created the chart-topping band Hear'Say and was also made by London Weekend Television.

See also:

05 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Equity anger at Soapstars
22 Oct 98 | Entertainment
Emmerdale ratings go with a bang
12 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Popstars spark fan fever
03 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Emmerdale goes nightly
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Driving ban for Emmerdale star
04 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Celebrations for winning Popstars
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