TV Times readers have voted Jeff Hordley as their favourite soap star. In celebration, Jeff, who has played Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle for a decade, shared his thoughts on being our winner and looks back at his time on the soap.

Congratulations! How do you feel about being voted TV Times’ Favourite Soap Star?

“That is pretty special. To get an award like this is great because it means people are enjoying the show and hopefully, if I am popular, I will stay in a job. But really, whoever voted for me, thank you very much. It has put a big smile on my face.”

Why do you think Cain is so popular with viewers?

“Because he is not as edgy as he used to be. He is more likeable and we are seeing different sides to him. He is letting more people in. He is not just this two-dimensional villain. He’s changed a lot in 10 years – well 13, actually, as I had three years out of the show between 2006 and 2009. The character has moved on. He’s grown up and rightly so. I was 30 when I joined and now I’m 43. I have changed and so has Cain.”

Can you remember your first day?

“I can. It was nerve wracking. I arrived with Shadrach and Charity Dingle for Butch’s funeral. I remember driving over from Manchester on that first day and pinching myself, thinking ‘I can’t believe I am going to be one of the Dingles.’ It was a strange feeling and a strange day – but one I have fond memories of.”

What have been your favourite storylines?

“My first big storyline was Angie and Cain and when she died in his arms, that was a really special moment for me. Then there has been the whole Cain and Charity thing. I love working with Emma Atkins who plays Charity and it was a big moment when Debbie came in as their daughter. I loved fleecing the Kings of £2 million and the whole ‘Who bludgeoned Cain?’ story was a joy.”

What do you like most about working on Emmerdale?

“I get to work with brilliant actors like Steve Halliwell, James Hooton, Emma Atkins and Charley Webb. And now Natalie J Robb who plays Moira. She is very easy to work with and there is a great chemistry between us. I also love the village. I am a bit of an animal fan and when you drive down the lane, which leads to the village, you see rabbits, pheasants and all kinds of wildlife. We have a lot of lovely countryside around us and if you are at the village and have a few scenes out, there is a great little run near the reservoir.”

Tell us what happened during your three-year break…

“I remember the morning of my last day in 2006. I went into the building and everyone was like ‘Morning, Jeff.’ It was like an episode of Cheers where everybody knows your name and has a smiley face on. I was like ‘Why am I walking away from this?’ What I learned in those three years out was, you spend an awful time away from home as a jobbing actor working on different shows and I missed my two kids. That was kind of the catalyst for me to make the move to come back. I am so glad I came back and, boy, do I appreciate Emmerdale now.”

Do you live close to the studios?

“I do now. My wife Zoe [Henry, who plays Rhona] and I used to live down south, but we’ve made our roots here in the north now. I am originally from Oldham, but I feel like I am a Yorkshire surrogate son now.  I miss my friends from the south, but I am very fond of the north.”

We hear you’ve just joined Twitter

“I have because I don’t do Facebook or Instagram and I didn’t want to be this dad who in six years’ time when my children are on social networking sites, is saying ‘What is that?’ I am going to talk about the show and things that I love such as my running, music and my allotment. I am pretty boring really. Not very rock ‘n’ roll.”

Your allotment doesn’t sound boring!

“It’s great fun. We haven’t bought any vegetables for four or five months as we’ve lived on what we’ve grown. I know it sounds crummy, but food does taste better when it has just been picked or dug up.”

Do you plan to stay at Emmerdale for the time being?

“Why wouldn’t I stay? They are writing great stuff for me all the time, my wife is on the show, which is lovely and we’ve got a young family – our children, Violet and Stanley, are nine and five now. I am extremely happy to be sitting in Camp Emmerdale right now.”

What is in store for Cain?

“We are in a real purple patch at Emmerdale. We’ve got this amazing producer Kate Oates, who knows how to tell stories and pace them correctly. So, it’s going to be exciting. We have all the new Bartons at the farm now for Cain to spar with. There is a lot of testosterone bouncing around. Cain would love to be sat in front of the fire with Moira rather than be doing scams all day long, but he won’t give them up, as he needs to keep his edge to be able to compete with the Barton men. Also, he is jealous of James as he can see he is hanging around Moira too much. And of course, Charity has just made a move on him and she could be a threat to his relationship.”

How would you feel about doing another live episode?

“If they told me that I was going to be doing a lot in it, I would vomit into a bucket and say: ‘That’s brilliant. I can’t wait!’”