Emmerdale‘s Vanessa Woodfield is currently having chemotherapy for bowel cancer, but regardless of whether the brave vet survives her health battle the character will have to be written out soon as actress Michelle Hardwick is expecting a baby in October.
The announcement is obviously happy news for the star and wife Kate Brooks, a producer on the soap, but considering she’s in the middle of a huge storyline, what does it mean for her alter ego’s future? How will Vanessa’s exit be handled?
Will she die?
As heartbreaking as it sounds this could be the most likely outcome. Hardwick says she has always known the ultimate fate of her character’s cancer battle and whether or not she makes it, and the show has worked closely with charities including Bowel Cancer UK to ensure accuracy. Vanessa and fiancée Charity Dingle have become one the soap’s most popular pairings, so if Hardwick’s maternity leave has been factored in and she’s secretly decided behind the scenes to quit the role after becoming a mum, has a devastating deathbed exit always been in the works?
Will she survive but leave Charity?
If ‘Ness beats her illness after the next few tricky months of treatment she’s still need to be absent for a time if Hardwick’s maternity leave is temporary. Second only to the thought of her dying in the upsetting stakes is the prospect of Vanity being torn apart – Vanessa might get the all clear but could the tension her health crisis has caused between them mount up and Ms Woodfield decides she needs some space? Maybe she goes to stay with her never-seen mum for a few months leaving Charity, and fans, sobbing until she returns?
Will she go into a coma?
Sounds drastic but Corrie did it with Shona Platt to accommodate Julia Goulding’s real-life pregnancy. Poor Shona took a bullet in the Christmas siege and was unconscious in hospital for weeks, then woke up with amnesia and was packed off to a special facility in Leeds to recuperate. Vanessa might encounter medical complications during her chemo and end up comatose for months to explain her disappearance and keep the storyline going.
Will she go looking for baby daddy Kirin?
Sudden numerous mentions of Kirin Kotecha must be leading somewhere – Charity’s proposed adoption of Vanessa’s young son Johnny can’t go ahead without his dad’s consent, but said father has been on the run since 2016 when he skipped town to avoid being banged up for a hit and run that killed Paddy Kirk’s lover Tess Harris. Maybe Vanessa decides to track down her ex-toy boy after getting the all-clear from the hospital? He was last heard of lying low in South Africa…
Will she be written out off screen?
Emmerdale hopes to resume filming in June following March’s enforced lockdown production break, but realistically will an increasingly pregnant Hardwick be back on set before giving birth? ITV stress the safety of cast and crew is paramount as they refine protocols for returning to work, and hiding a baby bump is challenging at the best of times and adds another layer of logistics to the social distancing and other potential changes to how the show is made. There’s also the potential time jump to consider: with Emmerdale set to run out of new episodes soon, even if it meets the mid-June start date the usual gap from shooting to screen is around six weeks so there may be a few ‘lost’ weeks, or months, which will have to be filled in either by characters bringing up to speed in dialogue or possible flashbacks. So if Hardwick doesn’t return this side of having her bubba, we may not get to see Vanessa’s exit as it could be explained as having happened off screen while the village was in lockdown…