Emmerdale are lining up a lusty encounter between Charity Dingle and Vanessa Woodfield when the pair spend a passionate night together when locked in the Woolpack cellar next week – but is it one a one-off or could this be the start of one of the most surprising soap affairs of the year?
With the booze flowing at an event in the pub, Vanessa is pleased when she notices the atmosphere between her dad Frank Clayton and ex Megan Macey has thawed. Crossing her fingers for a reunion as she thinks Ms Macey is a positive influence on her philandering father, the vivacious vet bites back at Frank’s ex Charity when she starts sniping across the bar about the potential romantic reunion.
As Charity goes to change a barrel in the cellar, tipsy Vanessa follows and decides to give the lazy landlady a dressing down for her comments about her father. But events take an unexpected turn…
“Vanessa storms in to have a go at Charity and slams the cellar door behind her,” begins Emma Atkins, who plays the devious Ms Dingle. “Unbeknown to her, the door is broken and has to be kept open with a chair otherwise you get shut in, so Vanessa ends up locking them in indefinitely! Charity is riled and thinks the only way they’ll get through it is if they drink themselves into oblivion until someone finds them – she doesn’t want to do this sober…”
The ladies get talking, but neither are relishing the possibility of being stuck in there all night. However, after polishing off a bottle of whisky, there’s a charged moment, as Atkins continues: “They don’t like each other but the conversation goes in different directions and it all starts to unravel. Charity hits a nerve with Vanessa and suddenly there is a moment that Charity jumps on and seizes. She is a complete opportunist and sees a flicker of something there and goes in for the kiss… It’s an intense, impulsive moment neither of them see coming.”
“It’s definitely drink-fuelled,” adds Michelle Hardwick, aka Vanessa. “There hasn’t been an attraction prior to this. In fact I think Vanessa has said about three words to Charity in her five years in the village, and that’s only been to order a pint!
“Vanessa is mortified the morning after. They are still locked in the cellar and she’s got a hangover and just thinks ‘What have I done?!’ Then when she gets out she has to do the walk of shame and Paddy catches her. Vanessa is mortified about other people finding out, especially her dad because Charity is the person who split him and Megan up, and Frank has always said Charity is poisonous. Of all the people she could’ve had a drunken kiss with!”
Everything happens for a reason in soap, so it’s safe to assume Charity and Vanessa’s out-of-the-blue hook-up won’t be a flash in the pan, and Atkins believes her character – true to form – will use this to her advantage.
“Charity won’t turn away a situation that might be beneficial to her and this would certainly wind Frank up when he finds out. So in the moment before they kiss that’s definitely crossing her mind. She knows Vanessa is unsure of her sexuality and will continue to toy with her, just because she can. Charity enjoys the flirtatiousness and the cat-and-mouse aspect. She’s as shameless as ever.”
Despite their characters having little interaction in the show up to this point, off screen Atkins and Hardwick are good friends and even share a dressing room. When they discovered they would be filming a saucy snog in the cellar, it came as much of a surprise to them as it no doubt will to the viewers.
“Michelle found out first and told me between scenes one day on the Woolpack set and I thought she was joking,” recalls Atkins. “We just found it funny and couldn’t stop laughing. When it came to shooting it we made it comical and a bit uncomfortable, just so the audience are not expecting it.”
“I’m just pleased to have a love interest again after two years,” observes Hardwick. “Although I had no idea they were going to go down this route. Vanessa kissed Rhona a few years ago and they spooned but they didn’t sleep together. But I like the fact that Vanessa’s problem is over the fact it’s Charity she’s kissed, not that it’s another woman!”
“Things will continue and get very playful,” teases Atkins. “It is quite fuelled but they seem to be drawn to each other. There is definitely chemistry…”
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