Tony Audenshaw based his 'Emmerdale' character on John Travolta.

Tony Audenshaw

Tony Audenshaw

The 55-year-old actor is celebrating 20 years on the ITV soap as loveable Bob Hope, and he has admitted the 'Grease' actor was at the "back of [his] mind" when he started playing the part because he is "very smiley".

Asked why he thinks Bob has enjoyed a longevity on the programme, he said: "I think on the whole, he's a happy chap - and you don't get many characters who smile a lot on TV.

"When I went into the show, I had it in the back of my mind that John Travolta is very smiley - in 'Grease', for example - and that's quite an engaging feature.

"So I thought I'd add that early on.

"And Bob's an everyman, isn't he? He doesn't let many things bother him; he gets on with stuff and has a laugh. Apart from his dalliances, he's not a bad bloke."

While he's a happy chappy most of the time, the soap's viewers weren't too impressed when Bob and Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy) embarked on an affair, with Tony admitting there was a "terrible reaction" to the plot.

He added to Inside Soap magazine: "I remember the viewers' reaction to the Bob and Laurel affair was largely terrible.

"Even though he'd had a lot of wives, I don't think Bob had ever cheated before, and obviously with Laurel that line was very much crossed.

"However, working with Charlotte Bellamy was a gift - she's a real pro."