Emmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw on Bob and Laurel affair backlash: “I’m aware the story wasn’t well received”

The actor on Bob's bad behaviour and unhappy Christmas ahead

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Emmerdale star Tony Audenshaw has addressed fan reaction to his alter ego Bob Hope’s shock affair with Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy), acknowledging the twist did not go down well with everybody.

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“I’m aware the story wasn’t well received by a lot of people,” the actor told RadioTimes.com. “I don’t normally look at audience reactions to stuff but I was going on a chat show, either This Morning or Lorraine, and thought I’d check out what people were saying about it – and it was like: ‘Oh my God!’

“There were times during the affair we were thinking the way Bob behaved was terrible, just constantly lying, but that was the story. Charlotte is a gem and we love working together, we’re both very pragmatic about things and we always do what we’ve got. Playing a character in a soap isn’t about making them popular, it’s about doing what the stories are. The relationship is over so we’re not working with each other as much now.”

When did Bob and Laurel’s affair start?

The characters’ unlikely romance grew out of the ‘Who Killed Emma Barton?’ storyline last year, with suspect Laurel’s alibi turning out to be old mate Bob who she had started a secret fling with behind his wife Brenda’s back. Forced to admit to the police she was with Bob on the day the nasty nurse was murdered, the illicit liaison was soon exposed to the whole village and the pair became a proper couple, causing a scandal and dividing the community.

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But the relationship’s shaky foundations recently crumbled as Laurel dumped Bob and told him them she regretted them ever being together and the hurt they caused. Audenshaw reveals this leads to a very unhappy festive season for lonely Mr Hope: “Bob’s got no one now, Brenda won’t take him back which is his own fault for going off with Laurel in the first place!

“He’s deeply in debt, he’s been out of work for months apart from the odd shift at the pub. Currently he’s staying at the B&B but he won’t be able to afford that for much longer. As Christmas approaches Harriet offers him work dressed up as an elf but it’s at a local children’s hospital so it’s voluntary – he gets paid with a mince pie!

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“Things get desperate as he wants to give his kids a good Christmas, he even considers stealing one of Santa’s presents from the hospital. Eventually he has to pawn his watch to buy presents but they end up being the wrong ones, then his car is towed! He needs a Christmas miracle but I don’t think there’s going to be one.

“Bob is too proud to admit how bad his finances are and feels guilty asking anyone for help because of how he treated Brenda. Bob will get very low but is aware it’s all his own doing. People ask me if Brenda will take Bob back, but I don’t think she should because he cheated and lied and could do it again. I think they work well as a couple but once that trust is gone, it’s not going to be the same again.”

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