Emmerdale’s Ashley Thomas is returning to the Dales – but not all is as it seems

Emmerdale’s Ashley Thomas is returning to the Dales for a spin-off show.

Actor John Middleton, who played the much-loved vicar for 22 years, is taking part in Emmerdale 1918.

The show looks at what real life versions of the soap’s characters were experiencing during the First World War.

Ashley tragically passed away in April last year after a long battle with dementia in heartbreaking scenes.

Speaking on Lorraine, John admitted he no longer watches the soap because he wants to move on.

Talking to stand-in host Carol Vorderman , he said: "No I don’t watch it I’m afraid. It’s not because I don’t think it’s good, I think it’s terrific.

"I had to shut the door on that put it behind me and move on to the next thing. I had to make it as abrupt as that to get it into my head its a new start to my career."

John lives in Harrogate and still regularly sees his former cast-mates.

Viewers will get to see John in Emmerdale 1918 on Thursday night at 8.30pm on ITV.

Speaking about the show, he said: "This is real life. We’re exploring the characters we played, what they would have been in real life in 1918 or throughout the first World War.

John explored the life of a brave vicar who went to serve as a padre on the front line.

He added: "What struck me more than anything else is the responsibility that man had to write home to the bereaved families. To find the right words to honour their son’s death and give their condolences. I found that very moving to see those messages."

*Lorraine airs weekdays on ITV at 8.30am

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