The name will be familiar to fans of Emmerdale – but the face is likely to be another matter
For when the character of Robert Sugden makes a shock return to the Leeds-based TV soap after five years away, he will look very different to the last time around.
Ryan Hawley, who starred in the West End production of History Boys, has been cast as the FOURTH actor to play the part.
And the new man seems sure to take centre stage from day one, as Robert has a long-standing feud with his adoptive brother Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher).
Ryan, who will make his first appearance on screen later this month, said: “I am absolutely over the moon to be joining the show, playing such an interesting character with a complicated history in the village, especially as my family are all big Emmerdale fans.
“There is a very exciting future lined up for Robert which I can’t say much about, but I am delighted to be a part of it.”
Robert’s status as a soap bad boy was cemented when he had an affair with Andy’s then-fiancee Katie.
He has also struggled to come to terms with his belief that Andy was their late father’s favourite son.
Emmerdale series producer Kate Oates said: “I’m delighted to welcome Ryan to the show.
“Robert is a complex character and when we were looking for someone to take over the role, Ryan had the perfect balance of charm and edge.
“Robert Sugden’s life has moved on in many ways but those ingrained feelings – about his father, Andy, Katie, and the village where he grew up – are sure to find an explosive outlet.”
The character of Robert took his on-screen bow in Emmerdale as a baby way back in 1986.
Three years later, Christopher Smith was cast in the role, which he occupied until 2001.
The part was most recently played by Karl Davies, who appeared between 2001 and 2005 before making a one-off comeback in 2009.
Asked about the recasting, his agent said: “Karl thoroughly enjoyed his time on Emmerdale but has been focusing on other projects since leaving and will continue to do so.”
Robert returns to the Dales with his fiancee Chrissie White, daughter of wealthy landowner Lawrence White – who is reported to be less than impressed with her choice of future husband.
Chrissie is played by newcomer Louise Marwood while the part of Lawrence has gone to acclaimed actor John Bowe, who previously portrayed property developer Duggie Ferguson in Coronation Street.