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I was a love cheat once.. it was awful; Emmerdale hunk Nathan reveals his guilty secret.

Byline: STEVE HENDRY

Cover story

IT'S not easy being a love cheat - just ask Emmerdale star Nathan Gladwell.

He plays cocky womaniser Syd Woolf who has been trying to have his wicked way with cafe girl Chloe Atkinson, actress Amy Nuttall, for months.

Now he's inching closer and closer, the pressure is beginning to tell.

"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been fun," said Nathan, with a grin. "But what can you do? You've just got to get on with it."

The man Syd is trying his hardest to cheat - Chloe's boyfriend Scott Windsor - is played by Amy's real- life lover Ben Freeman.

Fortunately, Ben is a true professional and Nathan knows that he has his full support when it comes to getting close to Amy on screen. He said: "At the end of the day they are both very professional and they have been in the same sort of situation and had to do things like that with other people.

"It's just work. And when you think there's always 20 or 30 people stood around there's never any real intimacy.

"It may look like it on screen but it's not what it appears. It certainly isn't a private moment.

"Ben's a really nice guy. We've been playing a bit of squash together and we play football every week.

"He's been great. Having somebody like Syd come into Chloe and Scott's lives was completely different for them and Ben did say to me it was a bit weird.

"And when he did scenes where he called Chloe names and really had a go at her, I think it was pretty horrible for him - having to call his own girlfriend all sorts of things.

"There's no doubt he blames Syd, but fortunately he doesn't blame me.

"There haven't been any death threats - yet."

Since joining the Dales-set soap in February, Nathan, 26, has caused hearts to throb in the Woolpack.

He's got a swagger Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher would be proud of and although he's currently set his sights on Chloe, anything in a skirt will do. But Nathan leaves Syd's rampant ego and roving eye behind when the cameras stop rolling and says he is a one- woman kind of man.

But he's no angel and admits he's made mistakes in the past.

He said: "I've always been fairly steady. The only time I did cheat on a girl, it was horrible and there's no way I would go through that again.

"It was awful and something I regret big-time. Just seeing her so upset - you wouldn't wish it on anyone."

While the actor might have learned his lesson, Syd certainly hasn't, even after getting a slap from Nicola when he callously dumped her after a one night stand.

But as long as it's just pretend, Nathan's more than happy for Syd to play the ladies man.

He said: "It's more about notches on a bedpost for Syd than anything more serious. If he ever met anyone he wanted to marry, the shock would probably kill him.

"He's completely different to what I'm like, which is good because it makes work a lot of fun. He gets away with blue murder, with things which I wouldn't ever dream about.

"To be honest, I didn't think people like Syd actually existed until I saw that show Club Reps where a lot of people sleep behind their partner's back.

"You just have to look at the daytime talk shows. It goes on in every town in every county.

"You could never leave Syd in the house with your girlfriend because he'd be trying it on like mad no matter how good a mate you were. But he's likeable. He's not someone you hate.

"I was going to say you wouldn't trust him with your life, but you probably would - you just wouldn't trust him with your wife."

Nathan came to Emmerdale from a small role in BBC hairdressing drama Cutting It, but he was almost cutting himself in two on his first day in Emmerdale.

He got the part of Syd the day he flew out to New Zealand on holiday and started the day he got back. He said: "They e- mailed me the script and I flew home, jet-lagged to hell and started my first day at Emmerdale.

"I had to use a circular saw and was convinced they were trying to kill me. I didn't know what day it was, I could hardly keep my eyes open and was put in charge of this very dangerous blade. It wasn't my finest hour."

He grew up fast after leaving home to attend the London Studio Centre in London at 18. Situated in the heart of the sleazy King's Cross area, he had his eyes opened wide.

Nathan proved his mettle in touring musicals, including Grease and Saturday Night Fever, before winning parts in TV shows Peak Practice and Doctors.

Emmerdale is undoubtedly his biggest break to date but he admits taking on the part was a daunting prospect.

He said: "I had mixed feelings. It's such a great opportunity and one that can lead on to other things, but if you do a bad job on a soap there's no hiding place.If you muck it up, you've got 10 million people watching you. Then you've got that whole stigma of soap acting which is totally unjustified. The amount of work that is churned out every week is unrivalled.

"You've also got the pressures that go with being in a soap. The amount of people watching it, the schedule, being in the public eye.

"The fame thing is one of the things that you are never really fully prepared for. I suppose it's part of the territory. But you can never be 100 per cent comfortable with it.

"It's a little bit of the Big Brother effect - maybe that's me being totally paranoid and nobody knows who I am anyway, but if I'm out and about the thought at the back of my mind is, `What if I do get drunk and make a total fool of myself?'

"It's the stuff that nobody teaches you at drama school."

His parents, fans of Emmerdale, are especially proud of his highest-profile role, although he admits his mum cringes at some of Syd's antics.

However, the chances are she will be doing a lot more wincing in the months, and maybe years, to come. Nathan is contracted to play the sex- mad builder until December and will stay on if the show will have him.

He said: "I joined in February and appeared on screen in March and should be here until December at least. It's a nice place to work, everyone's very friendly and there's a big team ethic. I'm really happy.

"It is a demanding schedule, doing five episodes a week. But it's a challenge. Syd is getting a bit easier to play, but there's still a hell of a lot more to come from him. You never know what he's going to do next.

"I can't relax with him yet, though. I have to think about where he's coming from because he's so different from me. Hopefully, the character will develop a bit and things will happen.

"I think the interesting thing would be if he did find a girlfriend he cared for and she treated him the way he treats women. It would be good to see the changes in him."
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Title Annotation:Cover Story
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 7, 2002
Words:1244
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