“Charity might have met her match in Vanessa!”
As Vanessa does the walk of shame for a second time, her real-life alter ego Michelle Hardwick is keeping her head held high…
“Frank told Vanessa that Charity was poison, and now she’s kissed her!”
Vanessa’s problem isn’t whether or not she’s a lesbian – she’s mortified because she slept with Charity! And I quite like that.”
Michelle Hardwick – aka Vanessa – is chuckling away as she chats to us over her lunch break at the Emmerdale studios. And she has a valid point! Vanessa’s not embarrassed because she’s snogged a woman – she’s horrified because she’s gone and copped off with her father Frank’s former fling!
That slightly icky point aside, we can’t help wondering whether this shock pairing might be a match made in heaven after all. Yes, Charity is wicked, and rarely more than a few steps away from an outrageous scam. But could getting it on with the local vet change everything for this coldas-ice landlady? Back to Michelle, who – we’re delighted to report – is not ruling out that possibility…
What did you think when you discovered Vanessa and Charity were going to snog?
I had no idea they were going to take us down this route! But me and Emma [Atkins, who plays Charity] said we’d have fun with it. We share a dressing room, so we get the scripts through and talk about it all. It came out of nowhere. Charity, Vanessa and a bottle of whisky – and that was it!
Did you have any idea it was in the pipeline?
I’d had a slight inkling, and I knew we were going down the road of Vanessa exploring more of her sexuality, which has been great. Let’s not forget that since Kirin – who’s been gone over two years now – Vanessa’s not slept with anyone. People might think she’s had a lot of men, but she hasn’t.
Do you think Vanessa has been attracted to Charity before?
I don’t think Vanessa has thought about Charity in that way whatsoever. To be honest, in the five years Vanessa has been in the village, I think she’s probably said three things to Charity – ordering a drink or something like that. She’s only been involved with her recently because of the Frank and Megan affair storyline. So it’s really come out of left field.
Are you enjoying working more closely with Emma?
It’s amazing to work with Emma – she’s such a clever actress. She’s great fun, and it’s good seeing how she works and playing off that. I’ve always enjoyed watching Charity on screen. You have these two feisty characters and you never know, Charity might just have met her match in Vanessa. Though not entirely – Vanessa’s still a little bit scared of her!
How has Vanessa felt since her night with Charity in the cellar?
I think she’s mortified. It’s not the fact of what she’s done, it’s who she’s done it with! Charity tried to screw over Vanessa’s family, and now Vanessa’s had a bit of a fumble with this woman who split up her dad and Megan. Frank has always told Vanessa that Charity is poisonous, and now she’s kissed her!
This week, however, Vanessa ends up going back for more. In a right old state about their cellar shenanigans, she foolishly decides to insist it’ll never happen again, and demand that Charity keep it to herself. But ever-mischievous Charity is having none of that…
Vanessa only manages to make things worse, doesn’t she?
Well, she goes to talk to Charity because she wants to get everything out in the open and tell her that she never wants it to happen again. She’s quite hungover at the time. But Charity being Charity, she’s like this wonderful prowling lion and is quite predatory – and Vanessa is under Charity’s spell, so to speak. So she goes back to talk it all out, but they end up kissing on the sofa and then heading upstairs to the bedroom!
How does Vanessa feel after that?
She just doesn’t want her father finding out! But is Charity really going to keep her mouth shut? So Vanessa decides to invite Daz on a date. She’s already flirted with him a bit at Finn’s funeral, and she’s just trying to prove to herself – as well as Frank – that she’s straight. But she’s really mixed up about her feelings. Let’s not forget, she’s never slept with a woman before…
Does the date with Daz go well?
Bless Daz! Vanessa gets all done up like Bonnie Tyler in the 80s, wearing this little leather skirt. She suggests meeting him for a drink in the shop because she doesn’t want to bump into Charity, but Daz says he’d feel more comfortable in the pub. So everyone’s in there – Frank, Megan, Rhona, Paddy and, of course, Charity. It’s the most awkward, embarrassing moment. Vanessa just knows Charity’s going to stir the pot, and things get right out of hand – she ends up telling the whole pub that she and Vanessa have slept together!
As Vanessa rushes out of the pub in shame, Rhona comes to her rescue. But can Rhona help steer Vanessa through her confusion?
Vanessa really didn’t want to unload on Rhona after everything she’s been through. She’s just really confused because she’s got to the age of 41 and – apart from that crush she had on Rhona when Rhona was addicted to painkillers – she’s never really had these sorts of feelings for a woman. But Rhona’s really good, and tells Vanessa it doesn’t matter whether she’s gay, straight or bisexual. You are who you are and you’ll fall in love with whoever you fall in love with.
So Vanessa really does have feelings for Charity?
I’m not saying she’s in love with Charity, but she is drawn to her. What she tells Rhona is that the night she spent with Charity made her feel amazing – she’d never felt like that before. And that’s what’s really confusing her.
How do you rate Vanessa and Charity’s chances in the long run?
Well, they’ve got good chemistry – I hope that comes across on screen – so I think it’ll be good to watch them explore this. It’s going to be fun and exciting, seeing two strong women together, and I hope people enjoy it!
The mask slips: Charity’s move on Vanessa was unexpected for both of them