Emmerdale Spoilers: Nobody saw the pairing of Charity Dingle and Vanessa Woodfield coming in Emmerdale – least of all the characters and the actresses that play them – but fans are already shipping ‘Vanity’ in a big way. As the pairing becomes an official couple, Emma Atkins and Michelle Hardwick talk about what the future holds for the village’s latest super couple.
After playing it cool for the past few weeks, all casual and no strings attached, Charity Dingle and Vanessa Woodfield finally admitted that their feeling had grown and maybe there ought to be a string or two. Fans cheered as the good ship ‘Vanity’ set sail but will the pair have calm waters ahead?
Actresses Emma Atkins (Charity Dingle) and Michelle Hardwick (Vanessa Woodfield) spoke to the press at a recent Emmerdale media event about what the future holds now they are official.
Were you pleased with the episode?
Michelle: Yeah! When they’re at the gay bar next week, they’d not actually broken up. They’re not separated before they go there, but before Vanessa leaves, she tells Charity: ‘Just so you know, it is no strings so we can have fun, it’s a casual thing’. So Vanessa gets there and she’s having a selfie with this attractive girl. You can see her testing Charity.
Emma: Charity goes wild with jealousy really, so she gets her arse to the gay bar. I think Charity’s shocked by how far her feelings run for Vanessa. She thought it was a bit of fun, but she realises that she’s really loving her company and they spar off each other brilliantly. It’s a nice dynamic and I think it’s quite a surprise. Her feelings become clear when she finds herself going to this bar to say ‘don’t be doing this’. She appears to have put men on hold. She probably feels that it’s not working out. She’s been hard done by, she feels, with Frank and she’s gone the other way I guess. I think it’s sprung up from absolutely nowhere. As actors, when we got the scripts, we were like ‘this is so random’. But I guess in life, that is sometimes how nature is. You turn a corner and you hit the sort of thing where you find yourself questioning it but you’re still doing it.”
It started with Charity pulling the strings…
Michelle: Vanessa has stepped up.
Emma: Which is brilliant, Charity loves a challenge. She was powerful for about five minutes but Vanessa said: ‘What’s your game? All this power. It’s pathetic’. It is pathetic and Charity thought no-one has ever spoken to her like that before! People usually jump and fall at her feet. She’s just a really open soul and saying ‘I think your game-playing is utterly ridiculous, life is too short to be behaving in this ridiculous way’. Something just hits Charity and I think she enjoys Vanessa’s company and words of wisdom. She think it works. There is that scene where she says that she might break her heart in the future, so she’s being an absolute arse. But for the moment it’s working for both of them.
What is it about Vanessa that’s got her so transfixed?
Emma: She’s very beautiful but isn’t a walkover, she’s very real but isn’t afraid to show her delicate side as well. Again I think Charity is used to playing strange power games. Vanessa isn’t entering into it, so I think Charity perhaps finds it appealing that there is no game-playing for once. It’s: ‘I fancy you, you fancy me, we get on well, we make each other laugh, how about it?’ She’s gone with it, so maybe it’s a softer side to Charity at this moment in time. I’m sure it won’t last forever.
What kind of reaction have you had?
Emma: Teenage lesbians are going crazy for it. I can’t believe it.
Michelle: It’s gone nuts on Twitter. I get so many messages saying ‘Thank you for this storyline, you’ve helped us come out’. It’s quite overwhelming really, when you do read them all. It’s a lot.
Emma: Because it is so random, I thought people would say ‘this is too unbelievable’. But then you go, why is it unbelievable?
Do you feel a sense of responsibility?
Michelle: Oh absolutely. It’s like every story though in any soap. You’ve got to tell it right and do your research. I have been there myself. I came out to my family when I was 28/29. I didn’t have the courage to do that before. But then again, I had no role model then to look up to when I was 18. There was nobody really, so that is why I have been very upfront and honest and shared my story.
Emma: I think in terms of Charity though, I’m so scared to have that level of responsibility with my character because she’s often extremely drastic in terms of the stuff she does. For example, when she outs Vanessa in the pub, as a human being I was cringing at how she could be so cruel. So I could never put it out there that I have this level of responsibility, because my character flits from being so evil and nasty. So it’s a bit of a juxtaposition for me to be in. But in terms of telling a story of two people falling in love, yes definitely. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what colour of skin you are, boy/girl, girl/girl, boy/boy, life is a beautiful and complex. Age is nothing but a number. There are too many social constraints in society where we say ‘this can’t happen’, but why not? So that’s lovely, that it’s so random but people have taken it under their wing and said they quite like it.
So will we see a softer, less manipulative Charity?
Emma: I think that’s the beauty of what she’s found in Vanessa. There’s no manipulation going on, it’s actually genuine and kind and loving. She’s perhaps not been used to that. She’s often been the unkind one, and she’s found herself maybe being a bit nicer. She can’t believe it.
Do you like playing that?
Emma: I love it. I’m blessed with really good dialogue as well. Her humour runs throughout and it’s so important when you’re playing such a bitch. I’m so lucky with the writing because there could come a point where you think ‘we’ve just had enough now, how much of a bitch can you be before there’s a shelf life?’ And I’m sure there will be a shelf life to my character at some point, but right now I’m blessed with the fact that humour is a big part of life in general. When you’re having huge traumas in your life, sat there with a cup of tea crying and then laughing, we’ve all been there. Laughter is an absolute tonic.
Michelle: The best line to this day is when Vanessa walks into the pub and Charity goes ‘G&T… LGBT?’ I read it before we even filmed it and I said ‘If that’s cut, I’m going to go mad!’ It was brilliant. How you delivered it was so spot on. It was great.
So you don’t mind if Charity gets nicer?
Emma: I do love playing someone so far removed from my own personality. It’s great because in real life, unless you are an out and out bitch, you wouldn’t dream of talking to people the way she does. So it’s quite cathartic to get to do that. However, I think life and personalities are layered and someone who’s a bitch always has another side to them. It might not come out in front of people. But it’s interesting to explore the rich dynamics of her personality, because no-one’s just a bitch, no-one’s all nice. I always question people who are too nice!
Has Vanessa surprised herself a bit with how she has stood up to Charity?
Michelle: Yeah – let’s not forget that Charity was the one who had an affair with her dad of all people. And she also tried to set him up and go to prison for a very long time. But the chemistry they have, neither of them can deny or ignore it.
Emma: I’m surprised that you haven’t has more conversations with your dad about that, to be fair. This is the beauty of soap though – things just get brushed under the carpet!
Michelle: Yeah, her dad, her sister and her dad’s girlfriend are all just like: “Oh, so how’s your girlfriend getting on?”
Are you enjoying working together?
Michelle: Yeah, she makes me laugh a lot.
Emma: We have a giggle don’t we? It’s just so out of the blue – it was so random when we got the script. Michelle: We hadn’t worked together at all in the five years I have been here.
Emma: That’s why it was so interesting to do. When we were with Tim O’Mara in the cellar doing the initial fission, it was far more interesting to film than something that had been brewing for ages.
Would you like the relationship to be long term?
Emma: I think it would be a shame for it to not have some purpose or meaning. It is meaningful, rather than just a salacious storyline for the soap.