Rhona Goskirk (played by Zoe Henry) is home again after her life-changing hysterectomy in Emmerdale. But the village vet's medical ordeal is far from over as she immediately finds herself having symptoms of the menopause, which she tries to hide from boyfriend Pete Barton (Anthony Quinlan).
"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster," says Emmerdale star Zoe Henry who has played Rhona full-time on the ITV soap since 2010. "There are hot flushes, sleepless nights. But Rhona is too embarassed to admit the menopause is happening. So she thinks she can hide what's happening and Pete won't notice."
So instead, on Wednesday 20 March, troubled Rhona finds herself turning to her ex-husband Paddy Kirk for support. And then her ex-boyfriend Marlon Dingle on Thursday 21 March. So anybody but Pete! How will he react when he realises Rhona is pushing him away in her time of need?
Zoe discusses her new storyline and hopes it will be a BIG talking point...
Rhona can no longer have children of her own after her hysterectomy. How does she react to the news her ex-husband Paddy is expecting a baby with new partner Chas?
"Deep down she is thrilled for them but it does pull the rug from under her again. Just as she thinks she's got a handle on her own situation here’s her ex-husband in a situation Rhona would have liked to have been in. It’s quite heartbreaking."
Rhona turns to both Paddy and Marlon for comfort. But not Pete?
"Marlon and Rhona have got such a history. They have a child, Leo, together and this great bond. So she can open up to Marlon even above Paddy or Vanessa. They just have this great understanding. But it’s really hard for her, she can’t even admit to herself how it is making her feel. So to tell someone else, even someone who she loves as much as Marlon, it’s nigh on impossible."
Will Pete stick by Rhona?
"He seems to adore her and be prepared to do anything for her. But there’s only so much a man can take. I am struggling to like her much myself at the moment! She’s so all over the place. One moment she is yelling at him and the next she’s crying. They’ve only been together a year so the relationship is still in its infancy. It’s a lot for him to take on but she is strong. But she’s got a long road to travel."
Is their age-gap a problem?
"Pete is 12 years younger than Rhona but it is hardly ever referenced. But now we’re having to face the fact she is a lot older than him and it really alters their relationship. I’m really pleased. I think it’s really interesting and quite controversial."
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Have you done any research for this storyline?
"Yes, my best friend Vic had a very similar operation to Rhona so I spoke to her and she was very candid and I spoke to people at work.There are quite a few people going through it themselves. Either menopause that has come on organically or been induced by a hysterectomy. I’ve just been amazed by how candid people have been. I walked onto the Emmerdale set the other day and one of our female directors had the exact same thing happen to her five years ago, she’s the exact same age as Rhona and said I could ask if I wanted to know anything and she told me her whole story! It was amazing. Just how kind she was telling that story. It can’t have been easy, it’s not a nice thing. People don’t like to talk about it. It’s an admission of getting older."
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Do you think you’ll get letters from viewers?
"I do. I think Emmerdale tells stories really well and very honestly. That’s down to our amazing Research team because they’re all over it. Until I read up and got the scripts I didn’t realise if you have a radical hysterectomy like Rhona has, the menopause will pretty much happen right away. Emmerdale have pretty much done their homework on this. I am already hearing from people. They send me a tweet or stop me in the street to talk about it woman to woman. I’m amazed at that and I applaud them. It’s not easy."
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