BOLTON soap star Sammy Winward is in the running to be voted the country's Sexiest Female in this year's British Soap Awards.

But the 21-year-old, who plays Katie Sugden in ITV1's Emmerdale is up against strong competition, including Kym Ryder (Michelle Connor) and Alison King (Carla Connor) from "Coronation Street.

She has figured in several strong storylines, including a steamy fling with David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) and having a mudbath fight with Jo Stiles (Roxanne Pallett) over husband Andy Sugden.

Roxanne has also been nominated in the category.

The awards will be held on May 26, and not only will Sammy - who lives in Edgworth with her young daughter, Mia - be hoping for individual success, but everyone at Emmerdale will be wanting to take the Best Soap title won last year by EastEnders.

And that includes a strong contingent of other main characters from Bolton in the programme.

Mark Charnock has played drippy chef Marlon Dingle since 1996. Mark, born in Bolton, lived in Halliwell, Atherton, Astley Bridge and Tyldesley, before joining the soap and moving to Leeds.

Bolton-born David Crellin - ex-murderer Billy Hopwood - re-joined the cast after his character came out of prison for killing Viv Hope's first husband, Vic Windsor, in a botched post office robbery.

One of the newest cast members is Joseph Gilgun, who plays engaging villain Eli Dingle. Joseph comes from Chorley and went to Rivington Primary School as a lad.

Another cast member with local connections is 19-year-old Charley Webb, who joined the Emmerdale cast as a very young Debbie Dingle seven years ago and has grown up with the series.

Debbie is from Bury and went to Philip's High School. She is nominated in the Best Actress category this year.