TV & Movies

Emmerdale Bob actors life – co-star snub, tragic death and rival soap roles

Long-serving Emmerdale resident Bob Hope has become a fan favourite since joining the soap in 2000, as well as being involved in some of the soap's biggest storylines.

While his affair with Laurel behind wife Brenda's back caused quite a stir among viewers in 2018, the character has since seen the error of his ways.

He has also been in the festive spirit and has most recently been seen helping Marlon in a bid to get April and Cathy talking again.

However outside of the soap, actor Tony Audenshaw had another role in Emmerdale before playing Bob Hope, as well as a role in another rival soap and an inspiring hobby in real life.

Rival soap roles

Tony has had a long acting career, which has included roles in TV programmes including Where the Heart Is, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Peak Practice and Heartbeat.

However right at the start of his TV career, he also had a role in another popular rival soap.

In 1995, he starred as PC Ian Coben in Channel 4 soap Brookside and it seemed that a career in soaps was on the cards, as he landed another soap role just over one year later in a very familiar place.

In 1996, Tony Audenshaw's first stepped into the village of Emmerdale, not as Bob Hope, but as a character called Acky for six episodes.

He certainly must have made an impression on the soap's producers though, as four years later, he joined Emmerdale as Bob Hope and has been a fan favourite ever since.

Co-star snub

Although Tony has become a familiar face on our screens as Bob Hope, it might not have been the case, as one of his fellow Emmerdale co-stars originally did not want him to play the part.

Deena Payne, who played Viv Hope until 2011, recently revealed that she wasn't sure that Tony was right for the part, saying to Soap from the Box podcast: "The truth [is] there were six people auditioning for Bob and the producer came up to me and said, 'Look, did you have any feelings about [any of them]?

"And I said, 'Well, not number six because he was really creepy'. And that's Tony.

"Anyway, bless him, not that anybody told him – he got the job. And in retrospect he was so right because he used to backcomb his hair like Viv backcombed her hair."

She added despite her reservations, she and Tony had a great chemistry on set, and that Bob and Viv were "two peas in a pod."

Marathon Man

When he isn't playing Bob Hope, Tony has a passion for running and regularly competes in marathons, and it is reported that he even completed the London Marathon in 2007 dressed as Elvis.

However, Tony's participation in marathons has also brought with it some interesting moments, with Tony revealing that some fans heckled him during the 2018 Brighton Marathon.

Tony told Zoe Ball on ITV show Zoe Ball on Sunday that he was heckled by some Emmerdale fans, following Bob's affair with Laurel in the soap.

He said: "I was at the Brighton Marathon and the reaction was unbelievable.

"They were saying: 'You're disgusting! Don't do that to Brenda. Keep your hands off Laurel!'"

Tragic death

In 2017, Tony's wife Ruth died of pancreatic cancer, after previously being diagnosed with the illness two years earlier.

When Ruth received the diagnosis, they were told that she only had months left to live, with Tony saying to The Mirror: "I remember being very quiet as we walked to the hospital car park, then breaking down in the car.

"Before we worried about forgetting to put the bin out. Now Ruth was going to be dead within a year after a horrible illness."

In the months that followed, Tony explained that Ruth helped to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and money for charities supporting research into the illness, saying: "Ruth knew it was too late for her, but she wanted to help others."

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The couple had been married since 1992 and had two children together, called George and Emily, who Tony said had helped to support him since his wife died.

He said: "We spent loads of time together and that made us even closer as a family.

"I don’t know where I'd have been over the last year without the kids. It's unbearable to think about it."

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