MEET Digit, the new soap star tawny owl, who made a guest appearance on the TV series Emmerdale last week.

The owl, reared at the falconry centre at Sion Hill Hall, near Thirsk, played a prominent part in one of the latest storylines of Yorkshire Television's soap, an owl found by the local vet who wanted to keep him.

"He was amazing, the hot television cameras didn't faze him at all," said Mr Ian Ashton from the centre.

"The producers wanted a barn owl to 'play' the part but I said they were more difficult to handle or get hold of and suggested a tawny owl. Digit is a rescued owl we've had for about two years and he just fitted the bill. He passed the audition and filming with flying colours."

Mr Ashton said the centre, like others around the country, had received requests from parents wanting to buy a snowy owl for their children for Christmas.

The new film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone features a snowy owl. Anxious to please parents with children who have everything have been ringing around bird sanctuaries trying to buy one.

"But owls are not easy birds to look after and are not really pets," said Mr Ashton. "We have a snowy owl but we wouldn't entertain letting this or any other owl go for such a frivolous reason."