There’s renewed hope for a Vanity reunion after Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) revealed fiancée Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) is due home imminently after staying with her mum during lockdown, so are Emmerdale fans set to welcome her back to the village?
‘Ness was at the centre of a major storyline earlier this year when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but as the UK lockdown temporarily stopped production on the soap it was announced Hardwick was pregnant in real life and would be going on maternity leave ahead of her October due date.
Once Emmerdale resumed filming and storylines began to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic, Vanessa’s sudden absence was explained by Charity telling the locals she was shielding, due to her cancer treatment, at her mother’s place off-screen.
Charity is currently digging for info on the whereabouts of missing Kirin Kotecha, father of Vanessa’s son Johnny, so she can get permission to officially adopt the lad.
So far she’s drawn a blank, with Kirin’s ex-stepmum Priya Kotecha knowing nothing other than he fled to the US after killing Tess Harris in a hit and run back in 2016. It’s hinted Kirin’s sister, who we’ve never met, might know more than she’s letting on but is keeping shtum for now.
In Wednesday 5th August’s episode, Charity updated Vanessa on her fruitless search over the phone and said she was looking forward to her girlfriend being back the next day – does that mean she will appear on screen for the first time in months?
Not necessarily. Hardwick, married to Emmerdale producer Kate Brooks, has effectively started her maternity leave and has said she will remain off screen ‘for the foreseeable future’. Her last appearance was on 3rd June in an episode completed pre-lockdown.
Don’t discount the possibility of a sneaky cameo, though, as Emmerdale love springing surprises on the audience. Maybe she’ll pop up in a video call or on Zoom, confirming she won’t be back until 2021?
ITV has stressed the importance of maintaining health and safety of cast and crew as the show, along with stablemate Coronation Street, adapts to working within new COVID-safe guidelines. Hardwick’s pregnancy puts her in a higher risk category so it’s unlikely she has returned to the studios in person, and Corrie has yet to announce when cast over the age of 80 will be back on set.
We’ll just have to tune in on Friday to find out if we’re going to see Vanessa again – and if we don’t, what is preventing her coming home? Maybe she doesn’t want to contend with Charity’s granddaughter Sarah Sugden turning into a juvenile delinquent, having robbed Priya’s place while looking for clues on Kirin.