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Emmerdale fans reckon they have twigged a major return twist for Robert Sugden, after rumours began to swirl earlier in the year.

Robert’s ex-husband Aaron and sister Victoria looked set to start an appeal to get him out of prison early after new evidence in the case came to light – but their efforts were soon thwarted by the legal system.

But now fans have spotted actor Ryan Hawley – who portrayed Robert from 2014 until 2019 – back on-screen, and are sure it could herald a return for his Dales character.

Ryan looked unrecognisable when he appeared in BBC crime drama Silent Witness on Tuesday night in his first TV role since leaving Emmerdale.

He played Michael, and debuted his impressive transformation since quitting the ITV soap.

The star had grown out his blonde locks into shoulder-length tresses, and also sports a fuzzy beard and moustache – leaving fans to do a double take.

Wearing a green beanie hat and khaki padded jacket, even his wardrobe was a far cry from Robert’s expensively cut suits.

Later, he pulled his hair back into a sleek ponytail and shucked on funeral attire as he appeared in the episode Matters of Life and Death.

But could Ryan have a dual purpose for growing out his hair – perhaps going for prison-chic after Robert manages to get out of jail?

It would certainly throw a spanner in the works for Aaron and Ben’s newfound romance.

Taking to Facebook after the episode aired, eagle-eyed fans couldn’t help but reminisce about Ryan’s appearance in the drama, with one posting: "I wasn’t sure at first but the minute he spoke I knew it was Robert. Good to see him back on our screens again."

Another fan complimented: "He took the part and was completely not Robert Sugden, well done!"

But someone else wasn’t so sure, and simply wanted to see Ryan reprise his Emmerdale role.

Taking to Twitter, they penned: "Is it bad that I see Robert?"

Someone else quickly responded: "No, think we were all seeing Robert! Now to just get him back on Emmerdale and back acting with Danny [Miller]."

And another quickly theorised: "Ryan playing a character called Mr Robson… which sounds like Robert. On a Monday… which is a day Emmerdale airs. The week after the first Aaron and Liv mention in weeks… here we go!"

Could he soon be back?

Emmerdale airs weekdays at 7pm on ITV.

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  • BBC
  • Emmerdale
  • ITV

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