Waterloo Road star Adam Thomas believes the spirit of his late dad has taken over his pet dog Bella.

His father, 70s soul singer Dougie James, died unexpectedly in 2020. But Adam feels he’s still around thanks to puggle Bella.

He says: “My dad was very close to Bella, and I feel he is within her and looking after me. He’s definitely around and I’m very thankful.

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“It used to irritate me because she’s my dog but every time my dad came round she would always favour him. Animals were drawn to him.

“The way Bella looks at me sometimes are the same looks my dad used to give me like, ‘You shouldn’t be doing that’ sort of thing.

“She’s always looking at me like I’m doing something wrong and follows me everywhere.

“Bella is always there and my dad was there for me. It’s nice to hold on to things like that.”

The former Emmerdale star also feels his grief storyline in the rebooted show – which saw his character’s wife Chlo (Katie Griffiths) die in the first episode – was sent to him from beyond the grave.

Adam, who plays student-turned-teacher Donte Charles, says: “Everything happens for a reason.

“The storyline came at the right time for me – maybe that was a message from my dad.”

The plot has been cathartic for Adam after he rebuilt his relationship with Dougie, who had been absent for much of his childhood.

The 34-year-old, whose brothers are fellow actor Ryan Thomas and Love Island ’s Scott, says: “I didn’t realise how much I was grieving until I did the research into the character.

“I always used to talk about my dad, then when he passed, I blocked it out as though it never happened.

“I’m very thankful the storyline came around when it did because not only has it helped me but other people.

“I get loads of messages from people saying thank you for the storyline so if we can help people along the way, happy days.”

Adam’s real-life son Teddy and niece Scarlett, whose parents are Ryan and Coronation Street ’s Tina O’Brien, play Donte’s children in the show, which ended last night.

Adam says: “We talked about the scene where Chlo dies beforehand – for Teddy it’s important for him to know what he’s walking into and it’s not real.

“When doing scenes like that it’s important to have as much fun as we can in between takes.

“These storylines can impact you and be emotional for everyone involved.”

The BBC is on a mission to offer more opportunities to get into telly outside London and this series of Waterloo Road returned to Greater Manchester after being set in Scotland before its eight-year break.

Adam says: “It’s a school in Manchester and we’re using northern talent in front and behind the camera.

“The BBC are opening the doors and it’s like a mentorship. It’s very hard to get into this industry but they’re putting a lot of time and effort into northern talent to create a flagship which I’m proud to be part of.”

While his dad was the professional, Adam has been courted by The Masked Singer, which is presented by his pal Joel Dommett.

He says: “Me and Scott do Thomas Bro Fridays where we get on the piano and have a singsong for fun but you won’t be seeing a Christmas album coming any time.

“They have tried to sign me up to The Masked Singer but I need to get more confident at singing before I start on TV.”

Adam, who came third behind Joel and winner Scarlett Moffatt on 2016’s I’m A Celebrity, is still in touch with his campmates.

“We’re all on an I’m A Celebrity family WhatsApp group – it’s still going,” he says. “I speak to Joel, Wayne Bridge and all the boys.

“I’m really proud to have been in the jungle with these guys and getting to watch them grow and do their thing now is incredible.

“I did present Xtra Camp and would love to do something fun like that again.
“However, Waterloo Road has given me a second shot at my acting career so right now I’m going to put everything into that and see where it takes me.

“The show that put me on the map back in the day has come back to put me back on the map again. I don’t know if we’re getting a second series – but we’re still filming, put it like that…!”

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