In the final week of special lockdown episodes showing life in Emmerdale for the village residents, landlady Chas Dingle is struggling with life at the Woolpack with partner Paddy Kirk. Actress Lucy Pargeter explains…

Chas Dingle in Emmerdale lockdown episodes
Chas Dingle in Emmerdale lockdown episodes

Chas Dingle is struggling with the Woolpack shut and is feeling like she’s cut off from her old life. Although Chas wants to make the most out of their time under lockdown she’s finding it hard to get things going as Paddy seems to want to drink the cellar dry. When Chas is emotional after clapping for the key workers, Paddy too finds a chance to reflect. And before long eager Paddy has plans for them both – will Chas allow him to carry her away with his dreams? Actress Lucy Pargeter explains…

How did you feel when you were asked to be part of these special Lockdown episodes?
We were planning to do these lockdown episodes before we even went into lockdown, as we wanted to create these two hander episodes to show what life would be like in lockdown for some of the characters in the village. But then due to timing they didn’t happen because we actually did all go into lockdown more quickly so filming was stopped. So when I heard they were going to happen I wasn’t surprised as I had expected they would at some point. It’s good they are and we will get to see a close up perspective of some different situations and what their life under lockdown has been like. It feels like the perfect opportunity and I was very happy to be involved.

Was it hard to learn the script, given the amount of dialogue?
I haven’t started learning the script yet!  I’m not in for another couple of weeks, I’ve read it and we’ve had a meeting about it to make sure everyone is happy with it which we are and we’ve made some technical tweaks about where we are going to film it. Dom and I have done so much in the last couple of years. We’ve been given a few two handers so we are quite used to the scenario of Dom and I being locked in the Woolpack backroom for days on end. We are so used to working with each other and we know each other inside out. It is great as we know each other’s signs and on screen cues to fill in the gaps or if we’re taking a pause. I feel Dom and I are fully prepared even though I’ve got a lockdown brain. Hopefully despite this it will all just fall back into place.

Did these episodes feel more collaborative?
We had a Google hangout about the script, but it didn’t last long because me and Dom didn’t have any issues with it. We went through scene by scene and were asked if we were happy and if there was anything we wanted to bring up about it or if there was anything we wanted to change. We didn’t need to, but my job isn’t a writer, I let the writers write and I’ll do whatever they’ve written unless on the very odd occasion I feel massively against it, but I didn’t feel that way about any of this.

Tell us how the  filming process differs from normal?
The social distancing is going to be strange as It’s almost like everything that we go against. I would say we are a very tactile industry, cast and crew alike.  Our days are filled with hugs and kisses, being in close proximity, laughing, touching, sharing dressing rooms and spending a lot of time with each other. It’s going to be very weird and I’m not looking forward to the way we’re going to be working. There is a two meter stick around to make sure we don’t get too close! We will be eating alone too. For my lunch I’ll be ordering a deliveroo and getting the front desk to deliver it to my dressing room.

Are you interested in how this episode is received? And will you watch?
I won’t watch any of them at the time as it is in the middle of bath and bedtime for our house. I used to have Sky planner set up to record Emmerdale, but I’m afraid it has been taken over by kids programmes and films so there isn’t any space left for it!

There are strains in their relationship. Is Paddy wary of Chas at the moment?
When we went into lockdown, we had just explored Paddy feeling under real stress because of his anxiety over Eve, that’s where we left things and they’d kind of talked it through and found some kind of agreement that should he ever feel like that again he was to open up. So when we go into this lockdown episode, Chas’ state of mind is now one of her realising how not having the pub open and that connection with the village has altered things. She is very much part of the DNA of the village and she’s floundering slightly without that connection to others. I think we get a lot of ourselves from other people (as a lot of us have found out) all of a sudden Chas is alone in the Woolpack without any interaction from the outside world and I think she does feel somewhat futile and without purpose. She is looking after a baby, cooking and cleaning, but without her job and  that isn’t her really.

What is it that you love about Paddy and Chas’ relationship?
The relationship is amazing they’ve shared so much and they are so compatible in so many ways, as they’ve been through so much grief. She’s so happy to have somebody so dependable that she can rely on after all the failed relationships she’s had. I love the way they work together. One minute they can be laughing and then the next involved in such heart rending and serious stuff.

Chas seems to be struggling at the moment do you think she has lost her confidence?
I don’t think she’s thought about it, but I think this time in lockdown will bring it to the fore and maybe she has. She isn’t in her 20’s having her first child, she’s in her 40’s and has a baby and maybe she has lost some confidence.

She seems very worried about the future of the Woolpack do you think she is right to be?
She has every right to be worried. There aren’t many people sitting in lockdown with no worries thinking it doesn’t matter how long it goes on because they have an endless pot of money that will pay the bills and look after their kids and keep them fed, clothed and watered. The Woolpack is her livelihood and with the state of how things are at the moment, pubs and the leisure industry is one of the last things that will be opened up so it’s a massive strain on her. Paddy thinks if he tells himself everything will be okay then it will be, but she’s a Dingle, and she knows the hard times and the good times so she’s very aware that this may not be great for them.

Have you largely loved or loathed lockdown?
I hated the film Groundhog Day and I’ve hated the monotony of the whole thing. I went into it thinking I’m going to be really creative and do something different everyday. Then tiredness kicked in, and monotony kicked in, and missing my mates and then the massive weight of responsibility kicked in. I’m here on my own with my three kids. I’m used to being a single mum, but then you have to put into the mix that you’re actually trying to fight to keep your children alive and the fear of what would happen if I became sick. It’s all the implications. It’s a life and death situation for so many people, and that has hit me massively.

Luckily, no one close to me has been affected, but anxiety has been massive and the enormity of the whole situation. I got very sick of people posting all their achievements rather than the reality. Plus I have had a really stressful time with online shopping, as I couldn’t get a slot for six weeks. I was relying on my mates around me and my work mates to go shopping for me which is a massive deal for me as I don’t like putting anyone out of their way. I’m very staunch in that I wanted to provide and be in control of everything and asking for help from my friends just wasn’t me. To say to my friends I can’t go shopping and we have nothing in the house, well it has been a massive learning curve. I have realised that I have so many people around me I can rely on and we’re so close. Even not being so close in proximity has proved that we’re willing to go above and beyond for each other, it’s really cemented my friendships. I feel very blessed to have them.

See Chas Dingle and Paddy Kirk in lockdown in Emmerdale on Monday 22 June