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Emmerdale actor James Hooton’s private life might come as a surprise to many – for one, the soap star is a talented bare-handed rock climber.
On top of that, James’ real accent is a far cry from that of his character, Sam Dingle, who he has played for the past 26 years.
While Sam is often seen as a bumbling, comedic character, actor James doesn't mess around and often shares his opinions on social media – most recently about the Covid vaccine, which he seems to be strongly against.
That's not to say Sam Dingle hasn't had his fair share of drama though, as he's been involved in some hard-hitting storylines such as helping his terminally ill partner Alice die and being there for his wife Lydia as she tried to find her family and went through her own health issues.
Sam Dingle hasn't had many major storylines recently, but actor James has been busy on social media.
His Twitter, which has more than 21,000 followers, is full of tweets and articles urging people to "think", relating to the Covid vaccine.
Earlier this year he made it clear he would not be having the vaccine.
He told his followers: "I take Vit c, d, zinc, b-12, Q10 and antivirals such as Andrographis, Sambucus, Curcumin. Along with regular exercise and a varied diet.
“I may not be taking a Covid vaccine. I may be labelled ‘anti-vaxxer’ for being pro immune system, pro informed choice."
Since then he's re-tweeted plenty of articles and views of others with similar opinions.
Earlier in October he shared an image of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice.
He wrote: "She symbolises the idea of weighing up each side of an issue with the blindfold pointing to the idea of no one being favoured over another in her eyes. Does it feel like one side of the scales has been removed right now?"
Sam Dingle is known for his thick Yorkshire drawl, in keeping with the farming country of the soap’s setting.
However, soap fans were shocked last year when they heard Sam speak in an episode of Emmerdale: Family Tree, reflecting on the Dingle’s ancestry.
Certain fans couldn’t get over the fact James – who is from Nottinghamshire – doesn’t share the same strong accent as the character he plays.
Reacting to the news, one Twitter fan wrote: "Hearing Emmerdale Sam Dingle actor @jamhoot's real life voice has shocked me as much as when I heard Killing Eve Jodie Comer's Scouse accent. It's a lovely sounding voice."
Another said: "My brain is not computing Sam talking normally."
And a third commented: "Wow! Sam Dingle has a really nice voice in real life!"
On Emmerdale, Sam Dingle met his match in kindly cleaner Lydia Dingle (Karen Blick), with the pair marrying and moving in together in Wishing Well Cottage.
His love life has been scattered with tragedy, following the death of his first wife, Alice, and various ill-fated romances over the years.
In real life, however, James is happily engaged to his long-term partner Nancy Lucas, with the sweethearts sharing two young daughters – Ava-Rose and Lilly.
A tight-knit family, James was able to spend a lot of time at home after the birth of their youngest child, Ava-Rose, as it coincided with a quiet spell on Emmerdale.
He told OK! Magazine at the time: "Luckily I haven’t had loads on at work either so I’ve been able to spend a lot of time at home."
The couple were overjoyed to welcome a second little girl, as they struggled to conceive, looking into different IVF options in their quest to have another child.
"We've been trying to get pregnant for around two years but it just wasn't happening," James previously told the publication.
Dance company owner Nancy added: "We'd just started going down the fertility route and were only three months into that when it happened without any intervention."
Though they’ve been engaged since Valentine’s Day 2010, the couple are in no hurry to tie the knot.
They told Daily Mail in 2016: "But we thought that when Lily was born – she'll probably end up getting married before us!"
When he isn’t rehearsing his lines for Emmerdale, James is busy training in another pursuit – freestyle rock climbing.
The soap star documents his excursions on Instagram, showing himself climbing viaducts and boulders with his bare hands.
James spends his weekends travelling to different pockets of the country in search of climbing spots, sharing footage everywhere from Pateley Bridge to Shipley Glen.
The intense regime means James has become quite stacked over the years – even sharing his buff body transformation with fans.
His workouts have impressed his co-stars, with Billy Fletcher star Jay Kontzle writing: "That fingertip strength makes my fingers ache – great work Hoots!"
And Mandy Dingle actress Lisa Dingle agreed: "Check you out Jiblets!!!!! amazing."
Inside his home
James occasionally shares snapshots of his cosy family home on Instagram, giving an insight into his life with Nancy, their daughters, and Daisy the dog.
The couple furnished the living room in shades of grey and purple, with a crushed velvet sofa, matching cushions, and a cream-coloured carpet.
When it comes to family birthday parties, they deck out the kitchen with a cake stand and lay out pretty pink napkins on their dark wooden dining table.
The family also takes Christmas very seriously, filling their home with not one, but three trees, each festooned with tinsel and shimmering baubles.
Defending their festive decorations, James previously declared: "I don’t care what anyone says… Our trees are awesome!!!"
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