Hollyoaks star Nikki Sanderson says her National TV Awards nomination for Serial Drama Performance is ‘like being taken inside Willy Wonka’s factory and saying you can have as much chocolate as you like’!

Nikki, 30, has been nominated for her performance as Maxine Minniver, once a happy-go-lucky character who has endured an unrelenting campaign of domestic abuse at the hands of her older husband, Patrick Blake (Jeremy Sheffield). The storyline was so effective it was used to promote the Government’s This Is Abuse anti-relationship abuse campaign.

Nikki told What’s on TV she was ‘beyond excited’ about the awards ceremony at London’s O2 on Wednesday.

“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to prove to people that I can do it,” she said. “I’ve always played comedy, glamorous, cool, funny parts and sometimes you can be pigeon holed and people don’t believe you can do it because they don’t give you the opportunity to show that you can.

“I’m grateful to Hollyoaks that they trusted me with this and believed that I could do it and I’ve worked really hard for the past two years to prove to them that I can and… [to get an] NTA [nomination], it’s just phenomenal.”

Other contenders in the Serial Drama Performance category at the NTAs are Danny Dyer (Mick Carter) and Kellie Bright (Linda Carter) of EastEnders and Emmerdale’s Verity Rushworth, whose character Donna Dingle died last year in a rooftop plunge.

Nikki said: “Danny and Kellie have both had the most amazing storyline recently and they’ve both been fantastic on screen and Verity obviously had her exit storyline, which was equally terrific, so I’m up against some fantastic competition. But I’m just happy to be in the mix and hopefully will have a drink with them afterwards.

“I’m not one of those… I don’t get nasty or competitive. I’m one of those who goes, ‘It’s fantastic to be in the final four and whoever wins, I’m chuffed’.”

Nikki will be joined by Cameron Moore, who plays Cameron Campbell, nominated as Best Newcomer at the NTAs, and other Hollyoaks cast including Ashley Taylor Dawson, Jennifer Metcalfe and the about-to-depart Danny Mac, all of whom will be hoping the Channel 4 soap lifts the Serial Drama award.

Nikki said: “Whatever the outcome it’s going to be quite a party. At Hollyoaks we’re just grateful to be in the position we’re in and nominated for three awards, so whatever happens on the night we’re going to be celebrating… If one of us was to win, then fantastic, but if not we’re still going to celebrate!”

Nikki said she was just about to head off for an afternoon of pampering before picking up her handmade gown by Bolton designer Nadine Merabi.

Would she sleep tonight? “I hope so! It’s one of those things, I know I’ve got to be up really early to get the train… I’m hoping I have a sleep, but if not it’s only for one night!”

You can still vote for your favourite shows and stars at the National TV Awards here.

The awards themselves screen live on ITV from 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 21.