The producers of ITV soap Emmerdale have moved swiftly to deny reports that longer working hours are causing low morale and illness among the cast.

The Daily Mirror reported that Emmerdale is in meltdown due to the extreme work demands imposed on the cast by producers. Emmerdale producers were reportedly making them work extra hours, including more Saturdays, to meet their five-episodes-a-week schedule.

But an Emmerdale spokeswoman said: “Filming hours have not been increased. It is not unusual for us to film on Saturdays and night shoots are the norm when working on a soap.”

The Mirror report suggested the axeing of new cast member Emma Davies (Anna De Souza) had rocked unity among the cast, but the actress was far from bitter about her short tenure on the soap.

Emma said: “The opportunity of playing Anna has been a joy from start to finish. I’ve enjoyed being part of such a fantastic, hard-working and super talented team. I’ve made some great friends, who I will of course miss very much. But I’m excited about getting stuck into filming the culmination of Anna’s story.”

The Emmerdale issues were laid at the feet of executive producer Anita Turner, whose 10-month stint as Emmerdale boss has seen a high cast turnover.

But the Emmerdale spokeswoman said: “The rumours about low morale among the cast are completely untrue. There is a great atmosphere at the moment, particularly after the show scooped three awards recently and ratings are high. Anita has the full backing of the cast, all of whom are deeply frustrated that these false rumours continue to circulate.”