He's earned his stripes in soapland - but after a stint in Corrie and, soon, Neighbours, Ryan Thomas, 33, has his sights set on a gritty drama. That's assuming his brother isn't up for the same audition...
What can you tell us about your Neighbours character Rafael?
Rafael turns up on Ramsay Street with no friends and no association with anybody else. He's a very suspicious, confused boy and no one really knows what he's doing there. His background? His mum was in a fire in Brazil when she was working there. He was 10 years old and he and his mother were badly burnt. He's come looking for answers, revenge, maybe?
There's rumours of a love interest too...
The point of Rafael's journey is not to interact with anybody else. He's there to do a job and that's to find answers as to why he's got scars on his back and why these things happened to his family. I think he gets messed up in something that he doesn't necessarily want to be involved in [and] yes, he does have feelings for someone else, but he finds it very hard to open up.
Did you grow up watching Neighbours?
Everyone in our era did. It was something that I grew up with - the ritual of getting in from school and turning on the telly and watching Neighbours. It's the only [soap] that I can cross over to. I know people have done it before in the past, but it just doesn't feel right going anywhere else. My heart is in Corrie.
What do you think Corrie fans will think of your transition?
They're going to find it quite crazy, I think. Because it's not Jason and it's new. To do this transition from where I've come from to here is a great idea for Neighbours. They've done a marvellous job making it happen.
Did you find it strange being the new boy again?
Yeah, massively. But I think it's also a very good thing for me. Leaving Corrie is something I wanted to do, and being the new boy and having that feeling of starting again [can be] a real positive as it really helps you move on. I'm going to be the new boy wherever I go now, so it's something I need to get used to.
Could you see yourself relocating?
It's a great way of life! The amazing thing about working somewhere like that is when you finish work at 6 o'clock in the evening, you say, 'Should we go and watch the sunset on the beach?' It's a different way of life and it's a better way of life, because you're in the sun, you're outside, you've got a lot of beaches. It's such a shame that we don't have that as much in England. But if it wasn't for [my daughter] Scarlett, it would be a lovely opportunity, yeah.
What are your plans after this 18-episode run in Neighbours?
I'd like to do something with my brother [former Emmerdale star, Adam Thomas, 29] this year. That'd be amazing. Me and Adam are back to the drawing board, that's what happens now, your auditions start in January, you're up and down to London, and you never know what's round the corner. Last year I didn't know I'd be doing Bear Grylls and I didn't know I'd be doing Neighbours. These things just happen.
Can being in direct competition with Adam get a bit awkward?
I've had a nightmare. He's the most super-talented guy I've ever come across, so I'm finished now. If I see him in an audition, I'm going to have to walk out because I'm not going to get the job. But yeah, I'm so proud of Adam. He's absolutely amazing. I'm buzzing for him.
Would you ever rules out a return to Corrie?
I'm never going to say never - I love the place. But I don't know if it's the right time for me, because if I think about going back, then I'm not thinking about what's in front of me. I feel like if I did that, I'd lose concentration on why I left in the first place. The only thing, everyone keeps coming up to me in the street saying, 'Are you coming back to get rid of that Phelan?' It's really nice everyone's still reminding me of where I come from. It's lovely, but I'm not ready to go back just yet.
What's the dream role?
They're making some amazing dramas on television at the moment. Last year I watched Our Girl and that show is unbelievable. I'm not necessarily saying I want to be in it, [but] something along those lines would be amazing - that sort of gritty, raw, real drama. You've got those boys in there, like Sean Ward and Luke Pasqualino. Those boys look so cool in these outfits and they pull it off so well. Our Girl is a drama that's right up my street.
Viewers can see the drama unfold in the one-hour Neighbours special, Hit And Run, airing at 10pm on Channel 5, on Monday February 12.
Set your BT box to series record and catch up via the My5 app.