Emmerdale spoilers: Rhona has unwelcome advice for Vanessa – “Get a boyfriend”

"It's the last thing Vanessa wants to hear," says actress Michelle Hardwick

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As Vanessa and Rhona’s increasingly fraught friendship takes another turn in next week’s episodes, actress Michelle Hardwick reveals all about her character’s unrequited love and whether she should tell Paddy about his wife’s addiction to painkillers:

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So, what lies ahead for Vanessa and Rhona’s friendship in the weeks to come?
Well, Rhona feels very betrayed after she learns that Rhona has been confiding in Moira about this ‘male friend’ of hers who has a drug problem. Rhona’s hurt that Vanessa has spoken to someone behind her back and feels certain that the truth will end up coming out.

Is Vanessa tempted to give up on Rhona at this stage?
It’s becoming a much bigger deal than she expected it would be. The lies are escalating and she’s having to hide so much from Rhona’s family and friends. She should have put a stop to it weeks ago by either getting professional help or telling Paddy, but it’s spiralled out of control. And a lot of that has to do with Vanessa’s feelings for Rhona.

Has opening up to Moira helped?
Moira has said from the start that Vanessa needs to get help. But Vanessa thinks she knows better and has done the exact opposite of what Moira has said. What she needs is to confide in someone about her feelings for Rhona, but there is nobody for her to talk to. The only person she could talk to is Rhona, but it’s Rhona who’s the problem.

Next week we see Rhona suggest that Vanessa needs a boyfriend. What’s Vanessa’s reaction to this?
Vanessa’s absolutely thrown by this. It’s the last thing she wants to hear. Rhona has said that she loves Vanessa but she’s said it in a way that a best friend would. Yet Vanessa’s convinced herself that there’s more to it. When you’re feeling in love, you do grasp any straw you can in the hope that the other person feels the same way.

Then she finds out later that Paddy tells her that Rhona hasn’t turned up at the nursery to pick up Leo…
Yes, Rhona tells them she was pilates and got held up. Whether Vanessa believes her remains to be seen, though. She’s so confused. If Vanessa wasn’t falling in love with Rhona, I think she’d have been more ruthless. But her feelings are getting in the way.

Could Vanessa ever tell Paddy the truth?
She doesn’t want Paddy to know because it could all blow up in their faces and she could lose Rhona as a friend as well as her chance at anything else she’s hoping for her.

What would Paddy do if he did find out what’s been going on?
He would have a go at Vanessa for not coming clean earlier on, but I think he would do the right thing and stand by Rhona and help her. But he’d be hurt that she hadn’t gone to him and he’d absolutely blame Vanessa. He’d need her to shout at.

Is Vanessa strong enough to deal with the situation?
Initially she was, but it’s scaring her now that she’s seeing her desperate Rhona is. Rhona’s not bothered about who she’s hurting – after all, she’s hiding drugs in Leo’s piggy bank and all around his bedroom. Leo could get hold of those. So Vanessa is scared stiff.

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What advice would you give Vanessa?
Even if she felt unable to tell Paddy, she should seek professional help, from a counselor or a doctor. Just so she could offload it to somebody was neutral. She herself is not qualified to be handling this and her feelings are clouded. Vanessa isn’t a bad person – all she’s done is fallen in love. But if she tells Paddy, she’ll lose Rhona.