Verity Rushworth is leaving Emmerdale to join the cast of Hairspray. The actress is quitting her role as Donna Windsor Dingle in the ITV1 soap to play Penny Pingleton in the hit musical in London's West End. Verity told the Halifax Courier: "Penny is a bit of a geek. She is bespectacled and frumpy and can't dance to save her life." The role requires Verity to don a wig and speak with an American accent - a far cry from the rural setting of her old job. She said: "I started in Emmerdale when I was 12 and have loved every minute of it. But in recent years I've wanted to take a break and work in the theatre." Verity, whose final Emmerdale episode airs on January 30, joins the cast along with veteran actor Nigel Planer. Get all the latest soap gossip delivered straight to your door. Subscribe to Soaplife magazine today Click here to watch whatsontv.co.uk's new weekly soaps video preview, the Soap Scoop
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.