Emmerdale: where have you seen the new school headteacher before?

Actress and singer Sandra Marvin reveals all about her debut

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Emmerdale introduced a new regular character tonight as headteacher Jessie Grant arrived in the village, and it was quite an entrance as she ended up with manure on her coat thanks to an unfortunate incident with vet Rhona Goskirk. While the parents of one of her pupils might not have made the best impression on Jessie, Sandra Marvin’s debut in the role may have some viewers wondering where they’ve seen her before.

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The accomplished actress and singer is best known for her stage work, and has appeared in several high-profile West End musicals including Hairspray, Chicago, Showboat and Stepping Out. More recently she received rave reviews as Camilla Batmanghelidjh in the musical Committee about the collapse of the charity Kids Company, which ran at London’s Donmar Warehouse. Marvin’s screen credits include sitcom Citizen Khan and a role in the Oscar-nominated Meryl Streep movie Florence Foster Jenkins.

As a singer, Marvin provided backing vocals for rock royalty Kate Bush during her acclaimed ‘Before the Dawn’ live concerts  in 2014.

Prior to joining the cast, Marvin had heard quite a bit about the show having worked with some well-known Emmerdale alumni. “I did the musicals Hairspray and Chicago with Verity Rushworth, who played Donna, and have just worked with Nicola Stephenson (formerly Tess Harris) in Stepping Out on stage,” she reveals. “It’s exciting to be on the show myself after knowing how much of an amazing time they had here.

Marvin (right) and the cast of Stepping Out including ex-Emmerdale star Nicola Stephenson (Getty)
Marvin (right) and the 2017 West End cast of Stepping Out, including ex-Emmerdale star Nicola Stephenson (Getty)

“I catch Emmerdale whenever I can, I’m a sucker for the weekend omnibus. I was nervous stepping on set for the first time, especially in the Woolpack which is the iconic hub of the community, but I felt very relaxed as everyone has been so welcoming. I’ve already had the obligatory photo by the village sign!”

After tonight’s first scenes where Jessie came to discuss Rhona and Marlon’s son Leo’s education, what can Marvin tell us about Miss Grant? “She’s new to the area and has taken over as headmistress of Hotten Juniors and High school. There are lots of kids in the cast so she’ll be working with them which is going to be fun. It will be nice to interact with the parents and see more characters in the school environment.

“There’s lots in store for Jessie but I can’t say too much yet. What I can tell you is that it wasn’t real manure I got covered in during the scene with Rhona in my first episode! It looked very convincing but luckily it didn’t smell like it, which was a huge relief!”

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.

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And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.