Emmerdale actor Vinny on bingo outings and late night songs
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We recently caught up with Emmerdale actor Bradley Johnson, who plays Vinny Dingle, to chat about working with his “second mom” Lisa Riley, hanging out with his co-stars at the local bingo hall, and why his talent for singer won him praise from his idol Peter Kay.
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What’s your favorite Emmerdale memory so far?
This must be the confinement episode. When Covid hit we had about two months off and then I got a phone call from one of the producers saying ‘Do you want to do a 30 minute standalone piece just you and Lisa [Riley, who plays Mandy Dingle]It was like doing a play. Me and Lisa got the scripts, rehearsed everything on FaceTime, and then we went in and shot the episode. It was brilliant.
What’s it like working with soap royalty like Lisa?
I still learn stuff from her every day, she’s just awesome. We have this joke that she’s my second mom. My real mother’s name is Mandy, so we call her “Mandy one” and Lisa is called “Mandy two”. I really like Lise and it is an honor and a privilege to work with her every day.
Who else are you closest to behind the scenes?
We are a very tight-knit cast. The people I’m closest to are probably Lisa and Isobel [Steele, who plays Liv Dingle]. Those are the two I have most of my scenes with. But all the rest of the Dingles too, like James Hooton [who plays Sam Dingle]Karen Blick [who plays Lydia Dingle]Eden Taylor Draper [who plays Belle Dingle] and Sam Hall [who plays Sampson Dingle]. We are all extremely close and we laugh so much.
What’s the best night you’ve ever had?
One of the best nights I’ve had recently was last year when we came out of the pandemic and things started to open up. Myself Lawrence [Robb, who plays Mackenzie Boyd]Natalie Ann Jamieson [who plays Amy Wyatt]Palmisciano Ash [who plays Matty Barton] and alex [who played Jamie Tate] did a night out near my home in Brighouse. The sun was scorching so we watched all these jet skiers go by, drank a few beers and then I said, “Why don’t we go play bingo and see my grandma at the local club?!” So me and some of the actors went to play bingo. Then we came back to mine, sat around the fire pit table, and I took out my guitar and we sang until the wee hours of the morning. It was one of those nights that I will always remember.
What did the locals think of the cast of Emmerdale bursting into the local bingo night?
I warned everyone in the cast. I’ve been going there for years and said, “People will hunt you down!” But they were totally okay with it. It was such a good night and so unexpected, which is always the sign of the best night.
Who is your funniest co-star?
Lisa is absolutely hilarious. And recently I worked with Dominic Brunt [who plays Paddy Kirk]. It’s a well-known fact that once I’m dead in a scene, it takes me a long time to recover because I can’t stop laughing. Working with Dom, I find myself laughing constantly, even when he’s playing Paddy. I find it so, so funny. And then there is also James Hooton, who always makes me laugh.
What do you always have in your closet?
There are two things. One is Nando’s sauce. Literally, you never know when you’ll need it, so I have a small bottle in my bag in case I need it in the canteen. The other thing is chewing gum, just in case you get caught in a kiss scene or a close contact scene. If you ate langoustines for lunch, nobody wants fish breath!
Who is the messier cast member?
She’s gonna kill me for saying that but Issy Steele can’t hang up her clothes! Every time I walk into her dressing room, it’s a dressing gown. There are clothes everywhere. I say, “Issy, aren’t you hanging up?!”
Which celebrity would you like to see do a guest role?
Hands down, Peter Kay. When there were rumors of Vinny’s dad joining the show, we bet on who could do it and I said I’d love to work with Peter Kay. I grew up watching Phoenix Nights and all of its comedic dramas, so I would love that.
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Have you ever met him?
I met him once when I was on the singing show Let it Shine. Robbie Williams was supposed to be one of the judges and he was sick, so Peter Kay was his replacement. I was backstage, about to go on for a show and there he was. I thought, “you know what, you only meet your idols once!” So I said, “Peter, can I have a picture?” He was adorable and put his arm around me and said, “You look fantastic.” They say never meet your heroes, but I’m so glad I met him.
If your character could have a romance with anyone in the village, who would you like it to be?
If it wasn’t him and Liv, I think it would have to be Gabby. But in real life, I love working with Isobel. It’s like working with my best friend. It’s such an honor to work alongside her, I think she’s a phenomenal actress and the chemistry between the characters is great.
If you could play any other character in Emmerdale, who would it be and why?
Paddy all the way. When I came to the show, I didn’t know much about the character. I just knew I was going to play Mandy’s son. The producers asked me if I would watch any classic Emmerdale videos to see its storylines, and I remember the belly laughing at Dom. He’s a great character and I would love to play him.
What’s the weirdest or funniest encounter with a fan you’ve ever had?
Because I wear glasses to play Vinny but not in real life, I always have people walking past me with confused looks on their faces. But when you least expect it, it always happens. I went to a German market earlier this year and the lady behind the counter was German but lived here for a few years. She said she loved Emmerdale and that my character and the show helped her learn the English language. I did not expect this to happen.
If you weren’t an actor, would you sing full time?
Before Emmerdale, I used to go to auditions for dramas, plays, and musicals because that’s something I really wanted to do. I would love to do a West End stint, or a UK tour, but it’s so difficult. Before Emmerdale, I was 18, so I was too young to play the older roles and too old to play the younger roles, but I would never say never to a musical.
It is not uncommon for actors to exchange soaps. If you weren’t in Emmerdale, what soap would you like to be on?
I always grew up looking at Emmerdale and Coronation Street, so I should stay up north and go get Corrie. In our household, Emmerdale was always first, then Corrie, we watched them religiously every night.
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