Nicola Stephenson has joined the cast of Emmerdale, it has been revealed. The 44-year-old actress, who is best known for starring in Brookside, will play new character Tess.
Tess is described as a good-natured, warm person with a great heart who is dedicated to her teaching assistant job. But her life will take an "unexpected turn" when she meets vet Paddy Kirk, played by Dominic Brunt.
"I'm thrilled to be joining the cast of Emmerdale," said Nicola in a statement. "It's a British institution and I'm very excited about the storylines that they have planned for my character."
Nicola Stephenson will play new character Tess, a teaching assistant
Kate Oates, Emmerdale series producer, said: "I am delighted to welcome an actress of Nicola's calibre to the show. We are keeping the exact details of Tess's storyline under wraps but it is safe to say she will mix things up in the village."
Nicola will start filming this month and viewers won't have to wait for long – she will appear on screens in the autumn.
The Lancashire-born star has a wealth of television and stage credits to her name and is best known for her roles in Brookside, The Chase, Clocking Off and most recently Safe House. She also played art teacher Allie Westbrook in Waterloo Road.
Fans will recognise Nicola as Margaret Clemence in Brookside; her on-air kiss with Anna Friel was the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss to be broadcast on British television.
The announcement comes after the sad news that Kitty McGeever, who played Lizzie Lakely on Emmerdale, has passed away at the age of 44. The actress, who was the first blind actress to appear in a British soap, died on Sunday night "surrounded by her loving family".
Kitty starred on Emmerdale for four years from 2009 to 2013, and landed the role shortly after losing her sight.