In 2010, former Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle quit the Channel 4 soap, leaving the small screen and the UK behind for the bright lights of Hollywood. Six years on, and it looks like the gamble paid off because the heartthrob has managed to attain something which eludes many Brits chasing success across the pond: a lead role on US TV.

The 34-year-old has been cast as Shadow Moon in upcoming series American Gods, set to air on the Starz network. He is the lead in the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel and play an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and travelling partner to conman, Mr. Wednesday.

Posting to Twitter, Whittle couldn't hold back his excitement over landing the gritty role. "I am truly humbled & honored to be Shadow Moon in @AmericanGodsSTZ. Thank u @neilhimself @BryanFuller @andmichaelgreen @FMNATV #AmericanGods."

Twilight's David Slade has been enlisted to direct the pilot for American Gods and is on board to work in other episodes throughout the series. Writers and showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, said that Whittle was the perfect man for the job.

"We searched every continent and country and all the islands in between for our Shadow Moon, and we are lucky to have found Ricky," they said. "Fans of the novel will find he has every bit of the heart of the character they fell in love with.'

Many viewers will remember Whittle as Calvin Valentine, the upstanding policeman who became a sleazy lothario, who would eventually be killed off. But since his departure, he has appeared in a number of US hit shows including The 100 and ABC's Mistresses and season 2 of Single Ladies.

Whittle, who moved to Los Angeles in 2012, is not the first Hollyoaks alumni to enjoy stateside success. Nathalie Emmanuel, who played his on-screen sister Sasha Valentine between 2006 and 2010, has gone one to build an incredible CV, which includes roles Fast And Furious 7 and Maze Runner. She is set to reprise her role as Missandei in Game Of Thrones when it return to HBO in April.