Former Emmerdale favourite Danny Miller stars in ITV’s new thriller Lightfields (Wednesday). We caught up with him to talk about the drama and life after soap… 

So, from one farm to another!
“Yeah, but it’s a lot different. The schedule for Emmerdale was 16-17 scenes a day, whereas here is more like four or five a day. It’s a lot more relaxed and gives you a lot more time to sit down with the director and talk about the scene you’re about to do.”

Do you find that having that soap background is actually great training when you come to something like this?
“Absolutely, because on Emmerdale you’re on a schedule and you’ve got to be in at 7.30am. If you’re late you hold everyone up. That’s great for your discipline and punctuality. You’ve got to be there otherwise you cost people money and time. Anyone who’s got that kind of training will tell you how full on it is. That’s why it’s nice to come to this and have time to breathe.”

What can you tell us about your character?
“Tom’s completely different to Aaron. He’s not one of those who can make eye contact very easily. He’s very nervous. He’s not very confident or well educated.”

So he’s not very good with women!
“No. He has a massive crush on Lucy who, in his eyes, was his childhood sweetheart. Chasing after Lucy, he’s never got that confidence I think. You see him ask her out and she says ‘No, because you’re not my type,’ sort of thing. He’s obviously not confident with how to woo a lady, with how to talk properly. He gets his words all jumbled up, which I think is a lot more interesting to play because we can all go and play the heartthrobs and have the lines written for you, but it’s also nice to play someone who doesn’t really have a clue what he doing.”

Marchlands – similar concept of a house through different ages. Did you watch any of it?
“I did yeah. The lad who played Flynn (Ryan Prescott) in Emmerdale was in it, so I made sure I tuned in. I thought it was great. Obviously there’s things that differ from this to that. It’s one house and three different areas, but how it’s affected the families. Obviously there this constant ongoing thing of Vivian growing up and moving into the house that she was quite affected by in her youth. So yeah, it is a bit similar, but it’s still a great story. I think people will be gripped by it and be glued to it.”

You’ve learnt a few agricultural skills…
“Yeah, I can thatch now, so if this business goes wrong I could always have a go at that!”

But you learnt nothing like that on Emmerdale…
“We were only ever told to mess around with the engines and make a bit of noise to pretend you knew what you were doing. But here we were given a full day to come here and train and to learn all the stuff, which I think was fantastic. Saved us from pretending in the background. I’ve learnt the way that they used to do it and it’s interesting because obviously they didn’t have the technology we have these days so it, so it’s interesting to see the different equipment and how they would use it compared to now, where you probably just press a button and it’s done for you. So very educational as well as working on the job.”

Was there a big gap between leaving Emmerdale and getting this job?
“It felt like that because I left in March and I went up for different auditions and I think Aaron just leaving Emmerdale is still a bit raw for people – so the name’s still associated with the face. I’m not saying my auditions were perfect, but I think a lot of people may have thought, ‘Oh, it’s him from Emmerdale.’ But six months down the line I’ve got back into another great ITV production. I don’t think it is a long time. I know a lot of actors that have been out of work for four or five years and I was complaining I’d never get another job after four months.”

Were you getting worried?
“I was never worried because I always saved knowing the business is as tight as it is and there’s so much competition out there. I always knew that if things were going right in two years’ time I’d need a couple of quid to away to keep me going.”

Soap actors don’t seem to be stereotyped in the way they used to be…
“I think you’re right. I’ve just been asked to grow my hair and a beard for this and it does change your image. Stereotyping for a soap actor these days is not as bad as it used to be.”

Do your fans recognise you now?
“I’ve stopped getting recognised as much now anyway, but I think once the beard comes off and the image goes of …I mean, imagine Ken Barlow or someone like that with their hair shaved off…. They’d look completely different!”

Did you do any other research about the period?
“Yes, it’s a different dialect, so I’ve been working with a dialect coach. The guys here (production) have been fantastic. They emailed all the stuff over of how you would do this and this, and obviously I could ask me dad, ‘Was this around at that time?’ He’s helped me a lot with the research.”

This has got a bit off a ghostly, supernatural theme to it. Are you a fan of ghost stories? Co-star Jill Halfpenny was saying she can’t watch these scary things on her own…
“I don’t mind horror, although like Jill, I’d have to be with somebody. I couldn’t watch a horror film on my own. I mean, Paranormal Activity was just a heart attack on a film. Obviously I know what’s going to happen with this, so it’s not as scary, but there aren’t that many prime-time dramas that do the ghost side of things. There’s not too much of that, but there will be a couple of moments that will make you jump, but it’s not really scary. It’s subtle. The ghost bits are all part of the story – they’re not just there to try to freak you out. It will all make sense in the end, obviously!”

Do you believe in the supernatural, that there’s something beyond?
“I am bit of a conspiracy theory addict, to be honest, so I’m always looking at daft ghostly things and stupid stuff like that. But no, I don’t think there’s anything out there that shouldn’t be. I certainly wouldn’t like to think there is, anyway.”