Richard Blackwood had crush on Gemma Atkinson

Richard Blackwood has admitted he used to have the hots for Gemma Atkinson and feels "privileged" to be up against her for the Best Newcomer at the NTAs next week

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Richard as Vincent in 'EastEnders'

Richard Blackwood as Vincent Hubbard

EastEnders' Richard Blackwood used to have a crush on 'Emmerdale's Gemma Atkinson.

The 43-year-old actor, who portrays Vincent Hubbard in the BBC One soap, feels "privileged" to be up against the blonde beauty - known for playing Carly Hope in the ITV show - for the Best Newcomer at next week's National Television Awards (NTAs) as he used to have a soft spot for her.

Asked if he's been keeping an eye on his competitors since the shortlist was announced, he said: "The irony for me is that I used to fancy Gemma! I feel privileged to be in the same category. I know they're all really good at what they do.

"I haven't just watched them because I now realise I'm in the same category as them, I've watched them prior to that. I admire their work. I believe I'm in a worthy category."

But the handsome star feels even more pressure to do well following the soap's success at last year's ceremony.

He told Yahoo! Celebrity: "'EastEnders' did so well at the last NTAs. That was when I actually joined, and I was sitting with the cast in the same row as Maddy Hill when she won Best Newcomer. I remember her face when she won and I was like, 'Wow, this is so real.' She was blown away by it.

"Then a year later, it's like, wow, now it's me. Just like that it happened as well. I'm nervous about that."

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