Emily Symons is best known for playing bubbly Marilyn Chambers in Home and Away, but Emmerdale fans with long memories may recall her seven-year stint as Woolpack barmaid Louise Appleton between 2001-2008.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the Australian actress fondly remembers her time in the Dales – especially one particular aspect…
“We had a great social life on Emmerdale!” she laughs. “I made so many wonderful friends up there and I do miss that aspect. The camaraderie is very special.
“Charley Webb (Debbie Dingle) is still a very dear friend, she’s just had a baby and is enjoying spending time with her family. I also keep in touch with Sheree Murphy (Tricia Dingle) and Mark Charnock (Marlon Dingle), we chat to each other in Instagram.”
Louise was perennially unlucky in love and had failed romances with lothario Rodney Blackstock, married truck driver Ronnie Marsden, vicar Ashley Thomas, toy boy Jamie Hope and businessman Ray Mullan, who she killed after he was revealed as her secret stalker. She was even briefly co-landlady, with Diane Sugden, of the village’s famous pub.
Symons’ time on Emmerdale was sandwiched between long-term tenures as loveable Maz – a role she first played from 1989 to 1999 (with a few years gap in the middle). After leaving Emmerdale the actress returned to her native Australia and eventually to Summer Bay and Marilyn’s high heels in 2010, where she has remained ever since.
“I love working in soap,” she smiles. “It’s a great medium, the writers are so clever to keep churning out these stories year after year and coming up with magical, wonderful situations. It’s not easy. I had a great experience on both shows but am happy to be back in Australia with my real family, and my TV family!
“I guess there are similarities between Emmerdale and Summer Bay, they are both small communities and the stories rotate around the locals and the visitors. And they are both beautiful locations, we have many tourists from the UK coming to Palm Beach where we shoot Home and Away. You can do a bus tour now!”
Fun-loving Marilyn has little reason to smile on screen at the moment, as her marriage to John Palmer is jeopardised by her taking in newcomers the Parata family after Ari Parata saved her life in the dramatic hospital siege, much to her other half’s disapproval.
“Marilyn formed a connection with Ari and wants to repay the kindness by helping his family when they have nowhere to live. John reacts badly as they don’t really know these people.
“The trauma of the siege has exposed things that were wrong with their marriage and challenged Marilyn’s values. It makes her see John is maybe not the man she thought he was.”
Grumpy John gives his missus an ultimatum on Monday 27th April after digging into the Paratas’ past – either their lodgers go, or he does. Pretty soon, he’s packing a bag and moving into a caravan…
“Marilyn and John have been drifting since Raffy left, they were at their best when they had foster children to look after. Without the kids Marilyn feels like she doesn’t have a role, she is a nurturer and loves looking after people it’s brought her so much happiness.
“I feel like it’s about time we put the relationship to the test, you can’t always be happy and jolly. They have survived many dramas but this situation is wearing her down. Marilyn is suffering from PTSD and wants to save the Paratas, but by doing that she challenges her own marriage.”