Emmerdale’s Michelle Hardwick and Kate Brooks share their show secrets
Emmerdale fans can't wait for their daily fix of rural Yorkshire drama, and we've got a treat for fans of the village antics, courtesy of Michelle Hardwick, who plays vet Vanessa Woodfield, and her wife Kate Brooks, one of the show's producers.
They welcomed OK! into their home to show us around and introduce son Teddy, who was born in October 2020. And while we were there we couldn't resist grilling them to learn some of the secrets about how you go about making a hugely popular programme that airs five days a week.
Producer Kate explains some of the logistical issues that might not occur to fans when they tune in for their daily fix of Dingles, Tates, Kings and co.
"I think what people don't realise is how far in advance we storyline," says Kate. "We publish storylines, which will then turn into scripts, six months in advance. We'll be planning stories for like, a year, two years, they'll be in the pipeline."
"I think sometimes people forget what a machine is, and how intricate all the schedules are, you know, managing all the cast and all the cast holidays."
And Kate admits she can anticipate some of the questions loyal fans might have about their favourite show, because she asks them too!
"As a soap fan, I'll watch a show and be a bit frustrated when a cast member is not in a big storyline. I'm like, 'Oh, why aren't they in it? They should be in it! But then actually, you realise that if somebody's on holiday for two weeks they're out the whole (filming) block, so there's only so much you can do."
"I think people don't quite realise the thought process that goes into it, and the massive team effort it takes to get the show made. Because it's six episodes a week, you know, it's a lot going on!"
Meanwhile Michelle reveals that she had no idea what lay in store for her character when she joined the soap in December 2012 as an old college friend of vet Rhona (Zoe Henry) and a bit of a wild party girl.
"I never knew at all that Vanessa was going to be gay," admits the 46-year-old star, who played receptionist Lizzie Hopkirk in Heartbeat spin-off The Royal before landing her Emmerdale role.
"I don't honestly think when Vanessa was introduced in the show that they knew that was the route that they were going to go down," says Michelle, who came out as a lesbian in 2013. "When she came into the village, she was absolutely man mad!" the actress laughs.
"She had the relationship with Kirin, who was only 17 and she had her son Johnny, who's six or seven now. Then when Rhona was on painkillers, she started having a little bit of a thing for her. And then they sort of put that to bed, so to speak."
But it was when the show's storyliners teamed up Vanessa with Emma Atkins' character Charity – to create a couple dubbed 'Vanity' by fans – that Vanessa's storylines really heated up as they began a tempestuous relationship.
And as an openly gay woman, Michelle says she welcomed the development for Vanessa
"I think, for me as an actress, when they did say, 'I think we'll go down the route of Vanessa being with a woman, whether she's a lesbian or not…' It was really important and it's just been great because I think it's been good as a platform for younger girls and women out there, to see and identify with."
"We're on at 7.30 in the evening, we're in people's living rooms nearly every night and it's helping normalise same sex relationships. And to me, for us, that's really, really important."
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