“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…

Inside Soap - - SOAP BOX - Al­li­son Jones

“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

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