When Emmerdale spoilers first leaked of Charity Dingle hooking up with Vanessa Woodfield, everyone was a bit surprised but now they’re up for Inside Soap Awards’ Best Partnership against the mighty Robron. Emma Atkins and Michelle Hardwick talk about the Vanity effect…
Its been quite a year for Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) and Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick). From their first kiss to the revelations of Charity’s abuse, they’ve faced more than some couples have had to cope with in their whole lives. This week, they head to court to face DI Bails but will the verdict be enough to have them skipping into the sunset?
“Regardless of whether Bails is found guilty or not in court, Charity’s ordeal has disturbed feelings inside her that she hoped to keep locked away,” actress Emma Atkins tells Inside Soap. “There is deep-rooted hurt that makes her question her childhood and look at her family and ask “Why was I thrown out of my home where I ended up on the streets and turned to prostitution to get money?” So she starts to unpick – and it sets her off on another journey of turmoil…”
Does that mean more turmoil for our new favourite all-female ship? Well before all that starts, there’s the small matter of Emma being up for Best Actress and Best Bad Girl at the Inside Soap Awards too. Emma and her on screen beau Michelle Hardwick give their views on how fans have reacted to Vanity.
How would you sum up the journey so far for your characters?
Emma: In one year, they’ve had a right bloody hellish time discovering Charity’s past, haven’t they?
Michelle: It’s more than Vanessa ever bargained for, but she has stuck by Charity through thick and thin. I love that they came together and it wasn’t from an affair. There was no cheating.
Emma: That’ll be next year, love.
Michelle: Oh, God!
Do you remember the first conversation you had after you found out that Charity and Vanessa were going to get it on in the pub cellar?
Michelle: We were sat in the Woolpack!
Emma: and you said, “We’re power-necking in the next script”.
Michelle: I did not say that! She keeps saying this, and do you know how I know that I didn’t say that? Because she taught me that phrase! Anyway, I told Emma and she thought I was making it up! She got quite mad with me.
Emma: I just though, “This makes no sense – how is that going to happen? We went down into the pub cellar for that first kiss and just said, “Right, we need to make this work!”
What is the best thing about working with each other now?
Michelle: Even before I joined the show, Charity was one of my favourite characters – ridiculously so! I always thought she was really laugh-out-loud funny, so I was actually a bit nervous when I found out that I was going to be working with Emma.
Emma: Aww no really?
Michelle: I’ve never told her this before! Emma is so clever with a script. Her delivery is second to none.
Were you surprised by the extent that the show has delved into Charity’s past?Emma: I feel like this has been the best era for me in the 20 years that I have been playing Charity. Usually my character is putting on a wig and stealing cars, and she’s an absolute cow – so I’ve never experienced people telling me that my story has really touched them. It’s been overwhelming.
Michelle: We’ve been gobsmacked by the response – not only to Charity and Vanessa as a partnership, but to the journey they’ve been on together.
What was the most challenging aspect of Charity’s story to film?
Michelle: Without a shadow of a doubt, the flashback episode and when Charity confessed to Vanessa that Bails raped her.
Emma: They were big speeches. I practised in my mum’s bedroom for a weekend and asked if my parents would look after Albert (Emma’s son). I just thought, “I need to do this as I might never have the chance again’ – so I worked my butt off!
How do you each go home and switch off after a heavy day like that?
Michelle: When we were filming some of that stuff back-to-back, it probably didn’t leave our system for a good two weeks after – but Emma has Albert, and I guess you just do switch off.
Emma: For me it’s home, child, dog – they are the priorities. Once they are dealt with. I learn my lines and before I know it, it’s 11.15pm and I’m getting up again in six hours.
Michelle: I have a Cavapoo called Fred – who appeared in Inside Soap! My mum gets your mag all the time, so she phoned me up and was like, “Michelle, there is a picture of you and Fred!” when you ran a feature on soap stars and their pets. I’d only had him a week!
Speaking of animals, have you had any diva animals in the village veterinary surgery recently?
Michelle: No, as Vanessa is suspended, isn’t she? It’s a very touchy subject!
Emma: You worked with a snake, though, which made me squirm!
Michelle: Yes, when Vanessa was being investigated. I had to take it off this cage, but it started getting a bit spiky. It was bristling, this angry snake!
Emma: Could it have bitten you?
Michelle: Well, maybe! Even though it was a little one, the man said its jaws were going, so every time I felt it tense up I said, “No – cut”!
Of all the awards you are nominated for, which one would mean the most to win?
Michelle: I would absolutely love Emma to get Best Actress as I know how hard she has worked.
Emma: I would just feel honoured and amazed to get any one of them. I don’t often win awards so I’m not holding out any hope, but it would be so brilliant to win – I’m not going to lie! I’d love that after all the hard work.
Are you pleased Charity is still naughty enough to garner a spot in out Best bad Girl category?
Emma: Yes! I really hop that side of her sustains itself, as I like that element of mischief. They do write such brilliant one-liners for me and I love playing her.
Michelle: I don’t think it would be realistic if you lost that.
Would you like Vanessa and Charity to go the distance?
Michelle: For now, absolutely. It’s a soap so there might not be a happy ending, and they’re going to have their ups and downs. We’ll have to see if any cheating happens, but I hope it doesn’t.
Emma: It would be a shame.
Michelle: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!