Carly’s “tragic” backstory to be revealed, says Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson

The NTA-nominated actress also discusses whether Carly is set to get a new love interest on the ITV soap


The year 2016 is going to be a dramatic one for Emmerdale’s Carly Hope thanks to a big new storyline that’s set to kick off in February. And January is already turning out to be pretty momentous for Gemma Atkinson – the actress who plays her – who has been shortlisted in the Newcomer category at this year’s National Television Awards.


So what better time for to catch up with Atkinson to talk all things NTAs and Emmerdale? What does the future hold for Carly? Will she get a new love interest? And for how long does she intend staying in the village? Read on for all this and more…

You’ve been acting for a while now – do you still feel like a newcomer?
It is a weird one. I’ve had a few people say to me, ‘you’re not a newcomer, you’ve been doing this for 15 years!’ But I am a newcomer to Emmerdale. I had some time out after doing Hollyoaks and Casualty to do the modelling. So it did feel new coming back to soap and acting in general. So I’m just really pleased and flattered that people see me that way. When they said I was shortlisted, it felt amazing. I couldn’t believe it. It’s good news.

And do you now feel settled at Emmerdale?
Very much so. The glamour modelling was fantastic. I absolutely loved it. I got to travel the world and meet amazing people, but it wasn’t really hard work. The hardest thing about it was being away from home. But here, when you’re learning your lines, you feel like you have a responsibility to please the general public who watch the show. You need it to feel real and it’s nice to be doing stuff that people can relate to. It’s good. I love where I am at the minute. 


So what’s next for Carly?
You’re going to find out a lot more about her history. What’s happened to her is quite tragic and really upsetting. And, unfortunately, some people will have been through it themselves. It’s horrendous. So it’s one of those storylines where I’ve had to do a lot of research because it’s going to play across the whole of this year. But the very first hint of it will be around February time.

Did you have an input into the storyline?
Well, every so often, each cast member has a meeting with the producer to see if they’re happy or to suggest ideas. And in my meeting with Kate Oates, she pointed out that Carly was a blank canvas and asked me what I thought. And I said how much I enjoyed doing the self-harm storyline when I played Lisa Hunter at Hollyoaks. It was something that hadn’t really been touched upon at that time. And with Carly’s story, it is a subject that’s also quite taboo. It’s nothing to do with self harm, but hopefully it will bring awareness and help people who’ve been through it themselves.

Do you also think that she should get a new love interest?
Yes definitely. That’s another of things that I discussed with Kate. Ross was so horrible to her, so it’d be nice for her to settle with someone. We’ve come up with three potential suitors for Carly. And the storyliners are now looking at all the tiny details of whose backstory would match with hers, rather than just plonking me with someone. They want to make sure its right. But I get on with all three of the potential boyfriends really well. They’re all great.


Well, I was thinking that she had good chemistry with David, but also with Marlon, especially when it comes to little April…
Yes, they’re both so great to work with. We’ve got the fun shop stuff with David. And any scenes with Marlon and April make for a good day’s filming. Little Amelia Flanagan is like a 30-year-old woman in a child’s body. She’s so good, bless her.

Does working with Amelia make you feel broody?
I know you can’t plan these things precisely, but I’ve always said that I’d like a baby by the time I was 32. But now that I’m 31 and 32 is getting closer, I’m thinking, ‘maybe when I’m 33’. I panic that it’s getting nearer! We’ve got two dogs at home and they’re my babies. I know it sounds ridiculous, but they do sleep in bed with me. They’re with me all the time when I’m not working. So I’m more than happy with them at the minute.

And you sound very chilled out, which is surprising seeing as I read that you get up at 4.30am to do a workout…
I think it’s because of the workouts in the morning that I am chilled out! I love getting up, having a good sweat and a hearty breakfast and then getting to work feeling energised. As opposed to the way I was with Hollyoaks when I’d get up 20 minutes before I was due in, have a piece of toast on the way and then feel shattered by 10am. I’m more into a healthy lifestyle now. It’s given me more energy. I like going on hikes with the dogs, training and eating good food. I’m a lot more settled mentally. I’m in a nice place – fingers crossed it lasts!


Last year, Carly disappeared for a while – are you now sticking around for the whole of 2016?
Yes, I’ve signed for another year, so I’ll be with Emmerdale until next January at least. I absolutely love the place. Last year, I had a holiday booked to Cuba before I joined the show, so I didn’t want to cancel it. So I ended up in Cuba and Carly ended up in court. And that’s the reason why I wasn’t around for a while. This year, I haven’t booked any holidays so far!


You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.


And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.