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Bad boy Cain is really just a pet; Jeff Hordley might play our favourite soap baddie, but he's the sensitive type, as he tells MERLE BROWN.

EMMERDALE, ITV, Monday to Friday, 7.00pm

WHISPER it, but Cain Dingle is a big softie at heart. Well, the actor who plays him is, anyway.

Jeff Hordley, who plays the evil Dingle, like nothing more than a night in with his pet cat.

The Mancunian star says his dream is to have a cottage in the country and more pets.

Jeff has been propelled to the heady heights of soap stardom in the past year, playing Cain - a man with no conscience and no concern for anyone but himself.

He terrorises his cousin Charity for sleeping with Chris Tate, who he blames for the death of his cousin Butch. He would have loved to have been involved with Charity himself.

Instead, he's having an affair with married village policewoman Angie Reynolds, and has stolen money from downtrodden Jack Sugden - to name but a few of his selfish acts.

For Jeff it has been a dream year. And tonight he could put the icing on the cake by walking off with the Villain Of The Year gong at the British Soap Awards, which are to be screened on ITV at 8pm this Wednesday.

But Jeff insists that he gets more pleasure from the simpler things in life.

"I'm not really like my character at all. I am much more shy and sensitive, and I wouldn't describe myself as hard," Jeff says.

"I would love to stay out in the country like Cain does, walking my dogs. At the moment I just have the one cat."

When he's not at home with his feline friend, or on set playing one of the best baddies in soap for years, Jeff can be found indulging in his other passion - music.

And in Emmerdale, Cain can sometimes be seen strumming his guitar.

"Not many people who live outside Manchester will know that I often do a spot of DJing in local clubs," he explains.

"I love music. I try and get to as many festivals as I can. I am good friends with Badly Drawn Boy, and I think his stuff is great.

"I am also a big fan of Sly and the Family Stone, Neil Young and Stevie Wonder."

Landing the role as Cain Dingle has been Jeff's big break. But while the on-screen passion between Cain and Angie has our TV sets steaming up, he rejects any suggestion that he is a sex symbol.

"I don't find more girls coming up to me now because it never really happened in the first place at all.

"I have been asked in the past if my hair is real or a wig, so you can make your own conclusions from that," he says, laughing.

His girlfriend Zoe Henery certainly doesn't seem to mind anyway.

Jeff's hair is certainly in the Liam and Noel Gallagher mode and, just like his fellow Mancunians, he shares a love of music and Maine Road.

"I am, most definitely, a Man City supporter. No, I am not a Yorkshire man. I am a 100 per cent Manchester born, red rose-wearing Lancashire lad," he says.

Before he starred in Emmerdale, Jeff acted in theatre and set up his own company.

He also guest starred in various TV programmes, including Coronation Street.

"I played a camp theatre director guy called Wayne in scenes with Roy and Hayley, and a night club manager with Mike Baldwin.

"I like watching EastEnders at the weekend if I can, but I'm not sure who I would want to play in that.

"Maybe Wellard the dog would be a safe bet.

"I have been in other shows, including A&E, City Central and Heartbeat, but this is my biggest part to date.

"I really like playing Cain. It's quite therapeutic for me.

"There are situations in life where we never speak our minds, but Cain does this all the time and that can be fun.

"I also love the theatre. Prior to playing Cain in Emmerdale, I was at the Library Theatre in Manchester in a play called Hidden Markings which was put on by my own company, Home Grown Theatre.

"We will continue to put on work, but I will still be playing Cain Dingle for as long as I can."

CAIN DINGLE'S MAIN RIVALS FOR SOAP VILLAIN OF THE YEAR

Robbie Moffat turned up in Brookside as the big brother of Clint, Katie's boyfriend. He soon caught the eye of Jacqui Dixon and the pair became an item. But he took his aggression out on Jacqui and then, when he tried to pay the Dixons back, Clint got caught up in the middle of it, and right in the line of Ron Dixon's gunfire. Responsible for his brother's death, his baddie rating must be: 9/10.

Jez Quigley got Leanne Battersby hooked on drugs in Coronation Street and, when she couldn't pay any more, he made her have sex with him. He then murdered Tony Horrocks, Natalie's son, but got away with it in court. Steve MacDonald had given evidence against his one-time friend, and, for grassing, Jez had Steve beaten to within an inch of his life. Baddie rating for Jez: 8/10.

Who shot Phil Mitchell? We shouldn't have been surprised there were loads of suspects. He humiliated his ex-wife Kathy's son, Ian. He tortured Lisa mentally, before physically abusing her. He slept with Mel to get at Steve Owen and, even after Lisa shot him, he continued his wicked ways the minute he was out of hospital, framing Dan for the crime. Phil's baddie rating? 10/10.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 26, 2001
Words:926
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