Ex Emmerdale star Adam Thomas on leaving: 'It was really a case of now or never'

Former Emmerdale star Adam Thomas
(Image credit: Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock)

Former Emmerdale star Adam Thomas talks about his new role in Jimmy McGovern's series, Moving On, which starts today, becoming a dad for the second time, life after Emmerdale and competing with his brother Ryan...

Choosing to leave Emmerdale after nine years playing Adam Barton, was the toughest career decision soap favourite Adam Thomas has ever had to make.

"It was really a case of now or never. After nine years playing the same role I felt I had to try other things and step out of my comfort zone", says the up-beat 30 year-old.

Since leaving just over a year ago he has starred in a musical, teamed up with his I’m A Celebrity jungle pal, Larry Lamb for a new BBC drama, Pitching In, and become a dad for the second time but there have also been quiet periods when he’s been waiting to land his next role.

TV Times caught up with Adam, who’s delighted to be back on our screens in Jimmy McGovern’s series of standalone dramas, for an exclusive interview about life after Emmerdale, becoming a dad for the second time, and how he’d feel going head to head with his brother, and former Corrie star, Ryan, for a role….

TV Times speaks to ex Emmerdale star Adam Thomas about starring in the opening episode of Moving On, which is on today at 2.15pm on BBC1....

TV Times: Tell us about your part in Moving On

Adam Thomas: "It was my first after leaving Emmerdale so it was really nice to get in front of the camera again and work with different cast and crew. I play Rob, who’s like a big kid, he loves to party and is a bit of a slob. He shares a flat with his best mate from school called Carl (Ben Tavassoli). Carl is keen to make something of his life whereas Rob is just happy just going to the pub! Shobna Gulati who was in Corrie with my brother Ryan, plays Carl’s boss so it was lovely to catch up with her."

Adam Thomas in Moving On

Adam plays Rob in Moving On (C) LA Productions (Image credit: BBC/LA Productions)

TVT: Would you ever be tempted to Corrie in the future?

AT: "Never say never but I didn’t leave one soap to do another soap. I left to get out there and try new things but if the right character came along I’d definitely jump on board."

TVT: Is there rivalry between you and Ryan for roles?

AT: "So far we’ve never been up for the same roles but it would be a weird one. I can’t imagine sitting in a waiting room getting ready to audition for the same part, that would be mad. He’d probably get it to be honest!"

TVT: Are you and Ryan competitive with eachother generally?

AT: "Yeah, I guess we are a bit. I mean he came first in Big Brother and I only came third in the jungle in I’m A Celebrity! But we’re there for eachother. When I found out I’d got the Moving On job he was over the moon for me. We both know how hard it is for actors to get work. It would be great fun to be in something together. I feel like we should. We both love acting, we love eachother, why not? We could be like the Kemp brothers and play the Krays."

TVT: You’ve also been working for a property company. Tell us about that?

AT: "Yes, in between jobs, I’ve got to keep a roof over my family’s head so I’ve been working three days a week for one of my mates who’s got a property business. Basically I find small residential properties, do them up and sell them on. I’ve always loved anything to do with property so why not get paid for doing it! Acting will always be priority but I’ve got to keep busy for my own sanity if nothing else."

Adam Barton, Victoria Barton

Adam as Emmerdale's Adam Barton with his screen wife Victoria (Isobel Hodgins) (c) ITV

TVT: The door is open at Emmerdale so would it be exciting to go back?

AT: "Yes, of course, but not just yet, it’s only been a year and I feel like I’ve got so much more to learn and do."

TVT: Which Emmerdale cast members do you still keep up with? 

AT: "Danny (Miller) is one of my best friends, so I see him all the time, and I went to see Kelvin (Fletcher) not long ago, he was doing the Wizard of Oz in Blackpool , he was amazing, it was lovely to see him. We all keep in contact. Because I was there for so long we all tend to keep in touch, we were like a little family."

emmerdale, aaron dingle

Adam is great mates with Danny Miller who plays Aaron Dingle (c) ITV

TVT: Do you still keep up with Emmerdale on the TV or dip into any of the other soaps?

AT: "Not so much, I was flicking through the other day and there are so many new characters, it moves on really quickly, it’s mad. Danny always fills me in with everything that’s going on so I feel like I’m still there in a way."

TVT: You were in Nativity The Musical last Christmas. How was that?

AT: "It was my first time being on stage  in a public theatre, and being in a musical too was so out of my comfort zone. I can’t sing to save my life but I thought I’d give it a go and the producer seemed happy enough so I got the part. It was a great experience and brilliant to do something completely different."

TVT: What would your dream role be?

AT: "I love gritty dramas, there are so many on at the minute that I’m in awe of. I do miss it when I’m not acting. I’d love to do a drama, or a stage play and keep on doing what I love. The Cry, Killing Eve, Bodyguard all those amazing dramas are an actor's dream job, but we’ll see what happens. It’s not happened just yet but I’ve got a good feeling! I’m always positive."

TVT: You’ve got two young children, Teddy and Elsie-Rose. How are you finding fatherhood? 

AT: "Being a dad is the best thing in the world, it’s an absolute gift, I’ve got these two unbelievable children. At Emmerdale I was usually working 7am until 7pm, it could be tough, so getting to be at home with them is lovely. I adore being a dad and I love my kids to bits as every parent does so getting to spend more time with them is a plus. Life is good right now."

TVT: What is Teddy into?

AT: "I bought him Shrek the musical on DVD and he absolutely loves that and he loved coming to see me in the theatre when I was in Nativity, he’s always up singing and dancing, I was playing an American producer and Teddy loved saying the lines to me. He’s got a better American accent than me! He’s an amazing little character."

TVT: Tells us about working with your I’m A Celebrity jungle campmate, Larry Lamb

AT: "We’re in a BBC drama together called Pitching In on later this year and had a six week shoot in Wales together. Getting to work with Larry was great, he was one of the main reasons why I wanted to leave Emmerdale. He was the one giving me the advice to jump ship and I knew it was very much a case of, ‘If I don’t do it now, I’ll never know’. I don’t want to live with any regrets. I felt like I’d done my bit at Emmerdale and I wasn’t really going anywhere so I just wanted to see what else was out there. It’s not been easy but it’s not been hard either. I’ve been lucky so far and hopefully it will continue."

Moving On begins on Monday 4 February, BBC1, 2.15pm and airs throughout the week. The first episode features Adam.

Main pic: Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock

Tess Lamacraft
Senior Writer for What's On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite week, Whattowatch.com

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.