Emmerdale spoilers follow.
Emmerdale star Jeff Hordley has admitted that he was nervous when he first heard about Cain Dingle’s newest storyline.
Show bosses have cast former Waterloo Road actor Will Ash as newcomer Caleb, who’ll be revealed as Cain’s long-lost brother in a big Christmas plot.
The soap’s hour-long Christmas Day special sees Caleb visit Cain in prison after finding out that their mother Faith has recently died. It soon becomes clear that Cain has secretly known about Caleb’s existence for decades.
In real life, Jeff already shares a history with Will as they used to attend the same school in Oldham.
Related: Emmerdale reveals Cain’s Christmas shock in 13 new spoiler pictures
Speaking to Digital Spy and other media about Caleb’s arrival, Jeff explained: “Initially, I’ll be honest, I thought: ‘They are bringing in a younger Dingle? What are they doing that for? Are they trying to replace me?’ You always get a little bit protective of your character if they bring in someone similar.
“Then when I found out it was Will, I was like: ‘Oh, this is great. This is the best thing that could have happened’. I think it feels as if Caleb has been here a long time.
“The character is written so well. He’s got a charm and Will brings that across really beautifully in it. Cain does have a connection with him. He doesn’t like Caleb, but he also finds there’s something about him that Cain wants to connect with as well.”
On his real-life history with Will, Jeff continued: “It goes back to our school days. We did a play at school together and then other stuff professionally. We both went to the same school – North Chadderton Comprehensive in Oldham.
Related: Emmerdale‘s Chas Dingle to face lonely Christmas after being caught out
“We weren’t in the same class because I’m a lot older – a school generation above. We did Another Country and I was one of the sixth formers and Will was a young kid bringing us all tea!”
Jeff predicted that Caleb’s arrival will set up the Dingles well for some dramatic new stories in 2023.
He said: “There’s the whole Al thing, which gives Lucy [Pargeter] and Dom [Brunt] all these stories. There’s the Kyle thing, and now Caleb as well. It’s kind of mapping out the next year for us already. It’s really exciting.”
Emmerdale airs on weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV1, and streams on ITVX.
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