WHEN it comes to producing young acting talent St Helens punches well above its weight... and once again it is in contention for a double at this weekend’s British Soap Awards.

Emmerdale’s Michael Parr and Hollyoaks’ Stephanie Davis are in the running for gongs at the glitzy celebration that celebrates the cream of soap land.

Both are former pupils of De La Salle secondary school in Eccleston, which has produced talent down the years including Emma Rigby, voted Best Actress for Hollyoaks in 2008.

Johnny Vegas and author Frank Cottrell Boyce, from the days when the school was known as West Park, are among its other famous exports.

Michael, 27, is up for the title of Best Newcomer for his role as bad boy Ross Barton in Emmerdale.

Michael, originally from Hard Lane, has played the character for around nine months and was also nominated for ‘Sexiest Male’ and ‘Best Villain’ before being shortlisted in the newcomer category.

He said: “I’m pretty chuffed and proud of the nomination which is down to the producer who put me forward.”

Michael, who was bitten by the acting bug while at the Elizabeth Hill School of Dance and Drama, added: “I really want to win.

“Even if someone walks past me in the street I want to take over them (because I’m so competitive) “But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“You can’t be best newcomer twice.”

He was full of praise for his fellow Sintelliner Emma who has gone on to make a name for herself on TV and now film: “We both did lots of plays when we were kids.

“As well as being beautiful she’s having a fantastic career and really going from strength to strength.”

Meanwhile, Whiston-based Stephanie, 21, who rose to prominence in the BBC Show Over a Rainbow in 2010, is shortlisted for Best Dramatic Performance, but faces competition from the likes of David Neilson (Roy Cropper, Coronation Street) and Lindsey Coulson (Carol Jackson, EastEnders).

Stephanie’s character Sinead Roscoe has been involved in some powerful and traumatic storylines, including the death of her baby daughter.

Steph’s mother Pauline said: “It’s reward for all the hard work and 12 hour days – it’s not always as glamorous as it sounds.

“We’re hoping the St Helens public will get voting.”

The public has until Friday, May 23 to vote for their favourite soap stars at britishsoapawards.tv.

The ceremony is on ITV at 8.15pm on Sunday, May 25.