Emmerdale: James Moore

Emmerdale actor James Moore burst on to the soap scene in June 2018, playing Ryan Stocks, the long-lost son of Woolpack pub owner Charity Dingle. The 26-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, said he nearly quit acting after being told he wouldn’t win any roles due to his condition.

He defied the critics when he successfully auditioned for a leading role in the award-winning ITV soap – and then won the prestigious National Television Award 2019 for Best Newcomer just eight months later!

Winning the award has led to fans labelling him “inspirational” and he has urged other people to have “belief and confidence” in themselves, rather than relying on the “acceptance of others”.

Early years

Moore was born in August 1992 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He has Ataxic cerebral palsy, a brain condition that affects coordination and movement. It’s caused by a problem in the part of the brain that controls the muscles, and can result if the brain develops abnormally in the womb, or if it’s damaged before, during or soon after birth.

In the UK, around 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year and there are an estimated 30,000 children with the condition. There’s no cure, although some treatments, such as physiotherapy, can help alleviate the symptoms.

Moore said he had been interested in acting since his schooldays and took lessons in drama, but was warned that there would be no roles for him. Eventually, he all but gave up on his dream and went to study photography at university instead.

However, watching an episode of the drama series, Breaking Bad, on TV, he was heartened to see actor Roy “RJ” Mitte (who has cerebral palsy) playing a leading role as Walter White’s son. This spurred Moore into giving acting another go, as he thought to himself, “There is hope!”

He directed and appeared in a short film on YouTube called Spaghetti Legs, in which he played a character called Jay, who had cerebral palsy. He was interviewed documentary-style and described how he was stared at in the street as he “limped along”.

He has also acted on the stage in Rex Obano’s Strawman at the National Youth Theatre in 2017 and in an adapted version of Romeo and Juliet at the Playhouse Summer Showcase.

Emmerdale role

His big break came after he signed up with an agent in 2018. Within two weeks, he was offered the audition for Emmerdale and was soon on the set of the long-running soap in a leading role.

Emmerdale is one of the top UK soaps and has been running since 1972. Originally called Emmerdale Farm, it revolves around the lives and loves of the villagers – in particular, focusing on the Sugden, Tate, Dingle and King families.

The show has a variety of different characters and Moore fitted in right away as the son whom Charity Dingle had deserted at birth, after mistakenly thinking he had died.

Since he joined the soap, he has been involved in some gripping storylines, including his first meeting with his birth mum and the ensuing discord between the diva Dingle and Ryan’s adoptive mother.

Emmerdale producer Kate Brooks has described Ryan as being “funny, feisty and reckless” and his storylines have reflected this.

Ryan meets his biological father, DI Mark Bails, who abused Charity as a teenager. Ryan hits Bails with a plank of wood, which leads to him spending a night in the cells, but he is released in time to see his father go to jail for the abuse.

He also befriends troubled Ross Barton and tries to help him to beat his drug addiction. Ryan saves his life after Ross collapses while playing football with his son.

Challenges

James says it hasn’t been easy reaching the top of his profession, as he has battled prejudice and even cruel trolls, who have left critical remarks on his social media feeds, but he says he doesn’t let them get him down and admits he’s having the time of his life since joining Emmerdale and winning the TV award for best newcomer in January 2019.

He triumphed over other TV soap actors including Casualty’s Neet Mohan, who plays Dr Rashid Masum, Coronation Street’s Alexandra Mardell as hairdresser Emma Brooker, EastEnders’ Ricky Champ as sinister Stuart Highway and Hollyoaks’ Aedan Duckworth as Oliver Morgan.

Moore wrote on Twitter that he hoped to see more disabled actors winning film and television roles. Describing himself as a “disabled activist”, he said more of them should be given the same opportunities that he had enjoyed.

He talks openly about the challenges he faces due to having cerebral palsy. He says he struggles with coordination and movement, finding it hard to walk long distances. He realises there are some things he can’t do, but says he has “adapted to these challenges” in his daily life.

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