But as Val’s life ends, actress Charlie Hardwick’s is set to begin again.
“There’s been a suitcase at the end of my bed for 12 years” says Hardwick, who has been commuting to play Emmerdale’s iconic drama queen since 2004.
“It’s taken me many many many months of wrangling and thinking that perhaps I was just under the weather, or it was the weather, or I just had to pull myself together.”
“I think I knew I had to go and not because I hate it, just because I have to try and get a bit of my life back really.”
That doesn’t mean she won’t miss her workplace, or the people she shared it with though: “I’ve loved being with Eric, I think that’s a great marriage, I think it’s a great partnership. Personally and within the story” she says of her award-nominated double act with Chris Chittell.
“I’ve loved working with Liz Estensen” she adds, “I believe she’s my sister, I believe he’s my husband, and I also nearly ticked a box in a dentist’s the other day that said have you got HIV?”
From day one – when she arrived claiming to have been beaten by her boyfriend – Val’s made quite the impression on the village and the viewers alike. She’s also earned numerous Soap Awards nods, with a win for Best Comedy Performance back in 2006.
What will Hardwick miss most about the character? “Her boldness, her outrageous beahviour, her complete faith in herself, her confidence, her vanity, everything. I love Val, absolutely love her and I think she says things that other people wish they had the pluck to say” she says.
“I think what I’ll do is take on that trait and do it for the rest of my life.”
From here it’s on to Newcastle’s Theatre Royle for the actress: she’s set to play the fairy godmother – “the spirit of the banks of the Tyne”, as she calls the character – in this year’s pantomime.
“I’m going home” she says, and we all know there’s no place quite like it.
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