Despite a two-decade stint playing one of telly’s most beloved characters, Ashley Thomas, Emmerdale’s John Middleton has admitted that he doesn’t know if he’s truly found his defining role yet.
The 63-year-old signed off from the soap last month after a heart-breaking storyline saw him slowly deteriorate with vascular dementia before finally succumbing to pneumonia.
The hard-hitting subject matter helped net Emmerdale the Best Soap award at the TV Baftas last week.
But now Ashley’s dead, John has admitted that he isn’t sure where his future lies.
And at an age when most people are thinking about signing up for their free bus pass, the ex-soap star instead is looking for a role that could change people’s perceptions of him.
He told the Sunday Mirror: “I’d love to play something that’s a total contrast to Ashley, a character that doesn’t meet the audience’s expectations.”
So, what does that mean – is he looking to play astronaut, or perhaps a superhero?
Not quite – in news that will shock fans of his nice-guy persona, Middleton says his ideal character would be: “One who you think is a great guy, then all of a sudden you think, ‘Hang on, did he just do that?’ That part would be great, to play the villain.”
And he reckons he may already have his sights set on a role, saying: “I’ve had a number of good conversations with people high up within ITV.”
However, as he told Aled Jones on Saturday’s edition of Weekend, he’s happy to bide his time until the right role comes along, saying: “I’m an actor, I don’t have plans, I have hope!
“I’ve had some meetings and have some meetings coming up. If it turns into a big long break, I don’t mind.”
And the beloved thesp believes his next job could “define his career”, so perhaps a villainous role is one he’s wanted all along – and he’s fed up with being seen as a good guy.
For all John’s many fans, our hope is that his break isn’t too long – whatever role he takes next.