Emmerdale Viv star Deena Payne unrecognisable in snaps from secret pop career

Emmerdale fans might not know that one of the ITV soap's biggest stars had a secret career in pop music before entering the Dales.

Deena Payne, best known for playing the late Viv Hope in the soap, was actually a part of girl band Cats UK before finding fame as an actress.

Deena played Viv from 1993 until she was killed off in a fire in 2011.

But before that, the star was best known as a singer, and had various relationships with musicians including percussionist Frank Ricotti, who played with Elton John among others.

She is now married to Steve Grant, a musician from The Sweet, and the two share a son.

But Deena looked completely unrecognisable as a member of girlband Cats UK.

In promotional pictures of the band, its four members – including lead singer Bea Rowley – can be seen in skintight hot pants and tight tops featuring intrinsically 70s shoulder pads.

With her dark brunette hair parted in the middle – and not backcombed like Viv’s used to be – Deena stood with her fellow band members with her hands behind her back as they wowed in the clinging ensembles.

Deena blasted her way into the charts with novelty pop song Luton Airport in 1979. The track reached Number 22 in the UK Singles Chart, and was inspired by a rather odd advert.

In 1977, drinks brand Campari released a TV commercial which showed actress Lorraine Chase being wooed by Jeremy Clyde. As he romantically asked her: "Were you truly wafted here from paradise?" Lorraine replies in a strong Cockney accent: "Nahh, Luton Airport!"

The ad inspired the subsequent song, written by Paul Curtis – who was responsible for writing various entries into the Eurovision Song Contest.

Speaking of her experience in the band, Deena said in 2010: "In 1978 there was an advert for a girl group called Cats UK. I auditioned as I was in musical theatre and I got the job – it was to sing Luton Airport.

"Clearly this song was done for Lorraine [Chase], she'd said it in a famous advert for Campari. But Lorraine didn't really want to have anything to do with it. So Cats UK ended up recording it."

The band went on to release two further singles, Sixteen Looking for Love and Holiday Camp, both in 1980. Sadly, both tracks failed to reach the charts, and Cats UK eventually fell apart and disbanded.

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