Lucy Pargeter: ‘I love my young twins but it’s chaos’
Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter tells us why she feels so lucky to have given her 13-year-old daughter twin sisters at the age of 40
‘I’ve got this prosthetic bump, so my brain goes, “You’re pregnant, you can eat loads!”’
Her life on-screen as feisty Chas Dingle is full of drama and turmoil, and Emmerdale actress Lucy Pargeter laughs that these days she can’t even get a rest when she gets home.
In the good old days, Lucy would relax by horse-riding, going on holiday or putting her feet up in front of the television. But, as a mum to 13-month-old twins, she admits the adrenaline-fuelled life she lives on-screen continues when she walks through her own front door.
‘I’ve just had a week off, and it’s been absolute chaos; they’re just insane!’ she smiles. ‘One’s going one way and one’s going the other. I’ve got a climber and a walker, so one’s trying to climb the stairs, and the other is running with a walker. I need two heads and four arms, but I’m really loving it.
‘Beforehand, I was kind of thinking, “God, I’ve got a week with the girls, it’s going to be hard and I’m going to be absolutely shattered.” And then I come back to work and I’m already missing the madness!’ To add to the commotion, Lucy also has Lola, who’s just turned 13. ‘In one way, it’s brilliant, because she’s at an age where she can help out and can look after the twins when I’m cooking,’ reasons Lucy. ‘She’s absolutely amazing, but then you’ve also got the mood swings. So I’ve got little ones and one that’s going through teens. It’s not all easy!’
Not that the 41-year-old actress would change a thing. She fell pregnant with Missy and Betsy following IVF treatment after trying for another child for several years.
‘When I had Lola, I just took for granted that I got pregnant and that everything was fine, and when she was born she was absolutely perfect,’ says Lucy.
‘Then I got pregnant with the twins after trying so hard. It’s not until you go through something like that you realise
it can be tough. Then you hear about how a lot of twins end up in neonatal units because they’re born prematurely, and you just think, “Jeez, I’ve been so lucky.” They’re happy and healthy and absolutely manic, and it just makes me even more thankful, and I appreciate them even more.’
Lucy knows only too well that not every pregnancy results in a happy ending. She is currently in the middle of a heartbreaking storyline that’s seen pregnant landlady Chas struggle to cope after being told that her baby will not survive more than a few minutes after being born. Her baby has been diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis, a condition which means the kidneys and lungs don’t develop properly.
But Chas is still praying for a miracle, and when she finds out her fiancé Paddy has spoken to the hospital about organ donation, she’s devastated that he didn’t speak to her first.
‘She’s living on hope that the diagnosis might not be as bad as they say,’ explains Lucy. ‘She doesn’t want any negativity. Meanwhile, Paddy is more realistic and has thought about organ donation.
‘Chas is pretty hurt. She feels he’s gone behind her back and decides she can’t marry him.
‘She thought they were both holding out every last bit of hope, and decides she can’t walk down the aisle with him when they’re not on the same wavelength.’
As upsetting as the story is, Lucy reveals she has enjoyed wearing her fake baby bump during filming. ‘I’m eating a lot, too,’ she laughs. ‘I’ve got this prosthetic bump, so my brain goes: “You’re pregnant, it’s fine, you can eat loads!’’’
Lucy, who lives in north Yorkshire, gained four stone with her twins, but was quickly back to her pre-pregnancy weight. ‘Sometimes you can get so caught up in trying to make sure everything’s OK, that the person you forget to nurture and nourish is yourself,’ she explains.
‘I lost the weight in three months, but my figure’s never really going to go back to normal – the skin never goes back, does it?!’
Although she looks in amazing shape, Lucy confesses it’s not down to punishing gym workouts.
‘Are you having a laugh?’ she jokes, when asked about her exercise regime.
‘I get up at 5.30am with the twins, then get Lola up and leave for work at 6.30am. I then finish work at 8pm. So, no, I don’t go to the gym. If I got there, I’d probably fall asleep in the changing room!’
Instead, her idea of a treat is a solo trip to the supermarket or sitting in absolute silence at home. ‘Being able to do a shop that isn’t a grab-everything-you-can-and-get-out-without-a-tantrum – that’s a pleasure at the moment,’ she smiles.
‘But I’m probably at my happiest when I’m at home, the kids have been fed, they’re all bathed, happy and asleep and my lines are learnt. Then I can sit and breathe. I just sit still and don’t move – which is something that I don’t do very often now!’
Funny and frank, Lucy is shocked to be reminded that it’s 15 years since she first appeared in Emmerdale, but she’s adamant she never gets itchy feet.
‘Why would I? I’ve got a job I love,’ she says firmly. ‘I’m blessed with storylines, and I work with the most amazing people who are my closest friends. Unless they pushed me, I would never, ever want to go anywhere else.’
Emmerdale is on ITV, Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri, 7pm, and Thurs, 7pm & 8pm.
Above: Lucy as Chas Dingle telling Cain she can’t marry Paddy, and, right, with fiancé Rudi
At the BAFTAs with Danny Miller, who plays her on-screen son Aaron Livesy