Strictly speaking, he's a legal eagle...

Emmerdale star Louisa Clein, who plays twisted teacher Maya Stepney, has spoken of her long-time friendship with Robert Rinder, of TV’s Judge Rinder and Strictly Come Dancing fame.

The 39 year old star bonded with the telly judge – a bona fide criminal barrister – when she shadowed him to prepare for her first ever TV role, playing Martin Shaw’s fictional daughter Charlie Deed in ITV legal drama Judge John Deed.

Judge Rinder

The Emmerdale star is good friends with Judge Rinder

In a further twist, the pair were introduced by a very famous mutual pal – none other than actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Louisa had previously appeared with the Sherlock star in a production of the Ibsen play, The Lady From the Sea, in 2003.

Reveals Louisa: “I shadowed Rob when he was a criminal barrister. I watched lots of his trials, and went down to the cells with him to meet some of his slightly unsavoury clients. It was absolutely fascinating!

“He introduced me to my husband Jeremy (barrister Jeremy Brier) – they’d been old buddies from University time – and he was our best man.

“Did he do a speech! He was hilarious! My husband’s speech was also hilarious, so they out-speeched each other. And then my husband was best man at his wedding, so he got his own back.”

The Dorset-born actress – younger sister of renowned cellist Natalie Clein – adds that Rinder is a huge fan of her current storyline, in which Maya has groomed 16 year old schoolboy Jacob Gallagher into having a relationship with her.

“Oh god he loves it, and he’s been amazingly supportive,” says Louisa.

She adds: “It’s great, because he’s working in Manchester at the moment, so when I’m not filming in Leeds, I’ll often go across there and we’ll hang out a bit.

“He gives me lots of good advice. It’s mostly about what to wear to certain events and how to wear my hair, and what I mustn’t do. He’s my total style advisor!”

Emmerdale continues on ITV.

Main pic: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock; Judge Rinder pic Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock.