Karen Blick has taken up ballroom dancing after being inspired by her 'Emmerdale' character.

Karen Blick and James Hooton

Karen Blick and James Hooton

The 44-year-old actress decided to take lessons in the dance genre after discovering her Dales alter-ego Lydia Hart used to be a ballroom dancer - and she has now advanced from beginner level to intermediate.

She said: "I have taken up ballroom dancing, through Lydia. I did classes for some of her scenes, and now I've graduated from the beginner class to the intermediate.

"I started to learn as it was Lydia's backstory - she was a ballroom dancer 20-odd years ago."

Karen is "really enjoying" exploring her character's backstory off-screen, and has found a technique to look as though she is "pretty good" at some of the dances.

She said: "It's really enjoyable. I love the quickstep, and if you get the kicks and flicks right in the jive, it looks as if you're pretty good at it."

When Karen isn't throwing some salsa shapes on the dance floor, she can be found trying to get in a "sneaky run", so that she can chow down on more cake.

She added to Inside Soap magazine: "I enjoy running, so I do that when I can. I did the London Marathon earlier this year, so I always attempt to sneak in a run on my days off.

"I usually run on the moors, or by the river. I never thought I'd be a runner, but I trained for a half-marathon four years ago, and built up from a quarter of a mile to 26.2 miles, which is incredible. I like running because then I can eat more cakes."

Karen's co-star James Hooton, who has played Sam Dingle on the ITV soap since 1995, recently admitted he is going through his most enjoyable spell on the show thanks to her.

He said: "I've gone through many years when I've not enjoyed the job as much as I might have done and it's been a bit of a renaissance period for me as I'm enjoying the job more so than I ever have done.

"I think that's in part down to working with Karen and what she brings to the table. We've got a lot of things in common."