WHEN Bury actress Nikki Sanderson received an answerphone message to call her big boss, she feared bad news.

What the 30-year-old, who plays Maxine Minniver in Hollyoaks, did not expect was to be told she had nominated for a National Television Award (NTA).

Voting is now open for viewers to choose their favourites and Nikki is hoping to win the gong for best Serial Drama Performance in her domestic-abuse storyline which gripped fans.

The former Tottington High School pupil said: "I still can't believe it.

"It's still not sunk in, I don't think it will.

"It was my executive producer who rang me a left a message.

"I thought, oh no, what have I done? Do I ring him now or do I wait 10 minutes?

"I rang him straight back and I didn't expect it at all.

"He told me all about it and I just literally screamed down the phone at him — oh my God.

"I was just so over the moon.

"It was totally unexpected, I was really hysterical about it.

"I still feel exactly the same.

"As much as it would be fantastic to win — I would be lying if I said I didn't want to — just to be in the final four for an NTA is amazing.

"I used to sit there and watch as a kid and dream my name would be mentioned.

"It's just so surreal, little old me from the back end of nowhere."

Nikki will battle it out with the first couple of the Queen Vic — Eastenders' Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright who will go head-to-head — and Verity Rushworth, who made an emotional return to Emmerdale.

Nikki, who also appeared in ITV soap Coronation Street as Candice Stowe, said: "To be with those three, they are all such amazing actors and they have had such brilliant storylines.

"To win would be great but then I look at the quality I'm up against. I'm chuffed to be with them.

"I'm not one of the those people that gets nasty or anything.

"I've met Verity and Danny before, I've not met Kellie before, but they are lovely people. I'm sure we'll all have a drink together regardless of what happens."

Presented by Dermot O’Leary, the NTAs will welcome the biggest stars of Britain’s best-loved shows at a glittering ceremony at The O2 in London on Wednesday, January 21, live on ITV.

Nikki, who attended The Carol Godby Theatre Workshop, said: "I love them but I'm a very nervous person and I'd don't like the red carpet — I get really nervous and in a bit of a state.

"Last year was the first year I was nominated for anything and my stomach was doing back flips."

Even if she is not a fan of the red carpet, Nikki knows she will be looking her best thanks to a bespoke dress from Manchester-based designer Nadine Merabi.

She said: "I've been to Nadine Merabi and she is going to make me a dress.

"She's such a phenomenal designer."

Last year saw Hollyoaks scoop the award for best soap at the British Soap Awards, for the first time, while Nikki was named Best Actress and won the accolade for Best Storyline, with co-star Jeremy Sheffield, at the Inside Soap Awards.

She said: "I'm honoured to be a part of it.

"The last two years, Hollyoaks has been going from strength to strength.

"Hollyoaks has such a strong fan base, they are so supportive. They really do get behind us."

Speaking of the domestic violence storyline, she said: "It's been phenomenal but also horrible because of the things that I have learnt.

"I knew about domestic abuse and domestic violence but nothing compared to what I know now.

"The storyline has really saved lives.

"People who did not feel they had the strength to leave have now left and are safe."

She also appeared in advertisements to highlight how domestic abuse does not always involve physical violence.

The commercials, commissioned by government initiative This is Abuse, show an intimidated Nikki discovering co-star Jeremy, her on-screen partner Patrick Blake, scrolling through her text messages.

She said: "I'm nearly 31 and when I was in high school, we didn't have mobile phones and there was no social-networking.

"We didn't really have access to the internet, it was very basic.

"We also didn't have the issue of cyber bullying."

To cast your votem visit nationaltvawards.com.