How does a nine-year-old soap star from Selby manage to keep her feet on the ground? CHARLOTTE PERCIVAL and STEPHEN LEWIS find out.

EDEN Taylor Draper is getting used to turning heads when she walks down the street.

Whether she's on the way to the supermarket in Selby with her mum, Niki, or in Ibiza on a family holiday, it's always the same.

"People shout out Belle!' Or they ask Is that Belle?'," Niki says. "I'll say yes, and they'll say hiya, Belle!' and she'll say hiya'."

Eden even has people asking for her autograph, or taking her photo on their mobile phones - after asking Niki's permission first.

All pretty much par for the course for your average soap star. Except that there is nothing average about Eden.

She may have just picked up her second major TV gong in two years - best performance by a young actor or actress at the British Soap Awards, to be screened on ITV tonight, for her role as Belle Dingle in Yorkshire soap Emmerdale. But Eden is only nine years old, and attends Selby Abbey Primary School.

So just how do her parents, Niki and Richard, keep her feet on the ground?

It's not a problem, Niki says cheerfully. At home and at school, Eden is just another child, full of fun and laughter, but a little girl, not one of those mini-adults that some child stars can become. "She's a kid first and foremost," Niki says.

At home at the family's semi in Selby's Doncaster Road, she's a great big sister to her younger sister Francesca, three, and little brother Sebastian, two. "She's my first child, and she's lovely to have around," Niki says. "She's a fantastic big sister. She plays with her brother and sister - she's always the teacher, and they're the children - and she's just really really fun."

And the younger children don't get jealous of their famous older sibling?

Niki laughs. It's never going to happen, she says. "My daughter won a soap award on Saturday, which we're over the moon about. My other daughter went to the toilet on her own for the first time and we were just as pleased. We're proud of all of them for doing these fabulous things, but they are all equal. It's just that for one of them, eight million people were watching!"

Like any nine-year-old, Eden has her moments, Niki admits. But she's just not the prima donna kind. Yes, she loved the excitement of the glitzy Soap Awards and loved dressing up in a posh frock. But after giving her winning speech and doing some interviews, she didn't want to go to the after-show party. "She said mum, can we go back to the hotel? I want to bounce on the bed and have a ham sandwich'." Niki recalls. "So we went back to the hotel and bounced on the bed and had a ham sandwich and a cup of tea."

Part of the reason Eden has managed to hold on to her innocence is undoubtedly down to Niki and Richard, a Norwich Union manager.

When Eden first landed the part of Belle after winning through a series of auditions a couple of years ago, she turned to her mum and said: "Mum, when I get lots and lots of money, can I have a butler?"

Niki took her aside. "And I said two things, sweetheart. First off, you never pay somebody to do a job that you can happily do yourself. And second, you're on TV, you're not saving starving children in Africa'. And she just said Okay', and that was it."

It breaks her heart, Niki says, when she sees pushy parents of child stars who have grown old before their time.

Childhood is all too short as it is, she says. That's why she loves her daughter's approach to her "job".

"She absolutely loves it. She's playing, role playing. She gets to call her on-screen mum a cow. Which she would never, ever dream of doing here!"

But still, it must affect her school life and friendships, surely?

She does spend anything between one and five days a week filming at the Emmerdale studios in Leeds, or else on location at Harewood House, Niki admits. For every day she takes off school, however, she has three days of extra tuition. Her education comes first, Niki says.

She still enjoys school, has plenty of school friends, and - like any nine-year-old - visits their homes to play and have tea.

Her friends know she's on TV, Niki says, and they are pleased for her - many of her best friends rang her to congratulate her after her win - but it doesn't affect the way they treat her.

And what for the future? Whatever happens, she'll keep her head screwed on, Niki says. If she carries on in the role of Belle, great. But if it doesn't last, that's life. "We don't want to get carried away. It's fabulous while it lasts, but it could stop tomorrow. As long as she's happy."

At the moment she certainly is. Eden plans to watch tonight's Soap Awards show round at her Nan's.

And what has she done with her award? It's in pride of place, in the one place where it will be seen more than anywhere else, Niki says. And where's that? "The downstairs loo!"

Now that's style.

Life with Emmerdale's infamous Dingle clan...

AS soap families go, they don't come better than Belle's tribe, the Dingles.

This clan of good-for-nothing rogues trundled on to our screens in 1994 and multiplied, rapidly.

From the moment Zak first bared his famous fists, Butch, Sam, Cain, Delilah, Chas, Charity, Lilith, Shadrach and dozens more Dingles have fought, lied, thieved and cheated their way through soapland.

Although the family is scattered far and wide, the main characters live in Wishing Well Cottage, a dirty, messy haven for lay-abouts.

In between poaching pheasants at Home Farm, tending to pigs and causing chaos in the Woolpack, they have shown themselves to be fiercely loyal and would do anything for their own - even go to prison.

However, the Dingles' joviality has always been masked by tragedy.

In 2001, Butch was killed in a horrific bus accident and Zak was diagnosed with testicular cancer. A few years later, Sam's wife, Alice, died after a long battle with cancer and Sam was arrested for killing her in a euthanasia pact.

Tinkerbelle Dingle burst on to the scene in dramatic style on Christmas Day 1998. She was a surprise Christmas present for parents Lisa and Zak: Lisa didn't know she was pregnant until she was giving birth in the Dingle's stable. As could only happen on Emmerdale, Belle - originally played by Emily Mather - was delivered by a vet, Paddy Kirk.

Belle is a smart little cookie, never afraid to say what she thinks and always ready to give her ten cents worth.

Her early life was fairly uneventful. But then, after Selby schoolgirl Eden took over playing the character in 2005, her storylines grew more dramatic.

On Christmas Day 2005 - her seventh birthday - Belle went missing. She'd let Daz's ferret, Spike, out of his cage, and when he escaped ended up chasing him through the fields. She fell down a mineshaft - and when Daz tried to help her, the two children got trapped.

It was a dramatic storyline that won Eden and her co-star Luke Tittensor (who plays Daz) Eden's first British Soap Award gong for Most Spectacular Scene last year.

Since then, in true Dingle style, Belle has shown a talent for mischief. She started to act up at school - and desperate to keep the truth from her parents, bribed her uncle Shadrach to pretend to be her dad, Zak.

The truth came out, and Belle's parents took her out of school. She was schooled at home for a while, then tests revealed she was among the cleverest two per cent of children her age and she became the first Dingle to attend private school.

But will she be able to keep out of trouble? Eden's legion of fans must hope not - and that Selby's very own soap star has plenty more great storylines to get her teeth into.

CHARLOTTE PERCIVAL looks at life at home with Eden

IT'S Tuesday teatime and all is quiet in the Taylor-Draper household.

But the peace is shattered by a blonde, bouncing bundle of energy.

"Mum, look what I've got," shouts nine-year-old Eden Taylor-Draper, thrusting a present under her mum's nose.

"And I've got a £10 Boots voucher, but I couldn't see anything to spend it on"

She might be a household name, but Eden is just an ordinary little girl.

Sitting cross-legged on a comfy, leather sofa in her living room, she wiggles her toes in pink, fluffy socks and chatters excitedly about collecting her award from The X Factor's Ray Quinn on Saturday.

"I felt excited, but nervous, but scared, but happy," she gushes, eyes shining.

She wore a pink, jewelled dress, made a speech in front of hundreds of soap stars, and played Scissor, Paper, Stone with Ellis Hollins (Tom from Hollyoaks).

But now it's back to reality; enjoying half-term and playing with her brother and sister. Eden loves being a big sister, she says. She plays games with them and paints bruises on to their faces with make-up - something she learned from Emmerdale.

Minutes later, when Francesca and Sebastian arrive from nursery, Eden scoops up Francesca, plants a big kiss on her cheek and plonks her on her knee.

"Now things go mad," jokes mum, Niki.

Even when the two youngest are asleep, they will probably be woken by Eden singing in front of the mirror.

Eden laughs, recalling many musical outbursts. She said: "I wanted to be a singer or a dancer, not an actress. I'd like to be something in between them all."

Since she landed the part of Belle two years ago, life has changed a lot.

She said: "I love getting all the different storylines and not knowing what is going to happen and the Dingles are brilliant."

Belle's great fun too, she says, because she's so cocky and cheeky. "And she's a genius. She treats everyone else like children and she's the adult."

Eden's passion is shopping, for clothes, shoes, accessories and hair stuff. She likes "funky and mad" clothes, pizza, chocolate and watching Doctors and Chucklevision.

School is great, she says. She's used to getting recognised now, but still feels embarrassed seeing herself on the TV or in the newspaper.

In the future she would like to carry on acting but, more importantly, wants to go to Spain and to Disneyland.

"When I'm older I'd like to work in a shop or with horses," she says, considering her options carefully. "I know, I could sell horses then I'd get the horses and a till," she shouts. "Perfect".

* The British Soap Awards are on ITV1 at 8pm tonight