He plays Lisa Riley’s son Vinny in Emmerdale – and Bradley Johnson says the soap star is like a “second mum” to him in real life.
The actor, 23, has been in the ITV show since 2019, when Lisa’s character Mandy Dingle returned to the village with her lad in tow.
“From the moment I met Lisa it was like I’d known her for ages,” Bradley tells the Daily Star.
“We have this joke on set where I call her ‘Mandy two’, because my real mum is called Mandy.
“Lisa is like a second mum to me, we talk daily and she’s been my rock throughout my whole time on the soap.
“Because she was in Emmerdale years before she returned, she’s taught me the ropes and I’ve learned so much from her.
“I had only done dramas before joining Emmerdale and this is a lot more full on.
“But she’s really helped me out and given me advice, which has been fantastic.”
Ahead of the soap’s return to filming last June, following the first coronavirus lockdown, the pair even rehearsed their scenes together on FaceTime.
“We had the scripts, but it was so weird because we couldn’t see each other in person to record it until the actual day of filming,” says Bradley.
“In the weeks leading up to it, Lisa and I would spend a couple of hours a night on FaceTime going through the scripts.
“It was a really strange way of dealing with it… but it helped.”
The past year has seen Bradley’s character face sickening physical abuse at the hands of his dad and Mandy’s gambling addict fiancé Paul Ashdale (Reece Dinsdale, 61).
This week will see Mandy and Paul’s wedding day end in an explosive stunt which sees one character die and others have their lives changed for good.
While Bradley reveals Vinny will receive his “worst beating yet”, he admits he would really miss being part of the soap if his character is the one killed off.
He says: “Being part of the Dingle clan – one of the most famous families in soapland – is brilliant. Emmerdale is like my second family.
“It would be really sad if Vinny was killed off, but everything happens for a reason.
“We are one of the first soaps to do a big stunt like this after lockdown and it’s going to be epic. I saw a bit of it and visually it looks fantastic. The fans are going to be really excited.”
Bradley admits he has struggled with filming some of the gruelling scenes with screen dad Paul.
He says: “Vinny is quite a complex character. When he first came to the village he was a blundering, nerdy kind of person. But over the past few months there’s been a different side to the character, which I’ve really enjoyed playing.
“Viewers have seen more of a vulnerable side to him with the abuse storyline.
“These are really hard scenes to film.
“Winding down afterwards can be hard when you’re doing five days a week of emotional scenes and you can sometimes take it home with you. Luckily, there’s a great balance at work between having a laugh and the scenes.”
Bradley was “honoured” to be given such an important storyline, especially as he’s only been in the soap for a short while.
“I’ve been at Emmerdale for nearly two years, and to have the main storyline has been an honour,” he says. “I was really excited to find out that I was doing this
storyline. I’ve been so lucky and it’s been a privilege to work so closely with Lisa and Reece, and play out such an important topic.
“This storyline does happen in normal life and I think it shows that it’s not just physical abuse that Vinny is going through, it’s the mental torture of worrying about what his dad is capable of and what he might do to Vinny if he tells anybody.”
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If Bradley did depart the Dales, he could have a second career as a singer. In 2017, he appeared on TV talent show Let It Shine, where he performed Bring Him Home from the musical Les Misérables.
In the summer, he impressed Emmerdale fans with his vocal talents when he performed for the soap’s YouTube series the Woolpack Sessions.
And we could even see him on a big reality TV show one day.
Bradley adds: “I’d never say never to going on a show such as The Masked Singer. I’m A Celebrity and Dancing On Ice are the two reality shows I’d really love to do.”
Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV
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