Emmerdale star Paige Sandhu has opened up about filming an “embarrassing” socially-distanced kissing scene alongside her co-star Jay Kontzle, who plays Billy.

Speaking exclusively to OK! about filming the segment that left the pair red-faced, the actress, who plays evil murderer Meena, explained that strict on-set Covid measures meant they had to lock lips with a tennis ball.

Paige, who has become one of the ITV soap’s biggest villains in the show’s history, confessed: “When I first started Meena was trying to chase Billy and the two of them kissed in a workout session.”

“But to film it I had to walk slowly up to a pole with a tennis ball stuck on it that was the height of Jay.”

Continuing to relive the excruciating moment, Paige explained: “I then had to pretend to put my hands against his chest and lean up on my tiptoes as if I was kissing this tennis ball.”

“Jay had to do the same with a tennis ball that was my height. It was really embarrassing having the crew watch you pretend to kiss a tennis ball!”

However, the actress admitted that despite her initial reservations, she was really pleased with the scene, which aired last year when Meena first arrived in the village.

She said: “But it turned out really well – I was surprised with how good it looked.”

Now, it’s one of Paige’s funniest on set memories in a role that has totally transformed her career.

Opening up about stepping into the shoes of unhinged nurse Meena and making the part her own, Paige said she thinks she’s really found her feet.

She revealed: “When I first started Emmerdale I was really worried all the time that I wasn’t doing well enough, or that I was letting people down, or the way I was playing Meena wasn’t good enough.”

Paige continued: “And then someone said, ‘Just trust yourself! Have confidence.’ I started doing that and I feel so much better and I enjoy playing Meena so much more.”

The star, whose alter-ego is set to kill again in the future, went on to reveal what initially attracted her to the part and how she’s continually inspired by Killing Eve’s central character Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer.

She explained: “When I was on the phone to my agent and they told me I got the job, she said, ‘you’re going to be a murderer.’”

“They wanted to double check I was ok with playing that and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ But apart from that, I didn’t know anything more. I didn’t know the extent of her character or that she was a psychopath.”

“But then I had a conversation with our Executive Producer and she said, ‘One of our big inspirations for Meena was Killing Eve.’ And then everything made sense.”

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