HomeSPOILERSEmmardleEmmerdale star Michelle Hardwick reveals all on Vanessa's return storyline

Emmerdale star Michelle Hardwick reveals all on Vanessa’s return storyline

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Vanessa Woodfield returns to Emmerdale next week as part of the show’s Christmas storylines.

Vanessa has been missing from our screens for more than a year, but she is finally back on the program on a permanent basis, thanks to Michelle Hardwick’s return from maternity leave.

Vanessa is thrust back into the spotlight as she supports her sister Tracy (Amy Walsh) through a difficult break-up while simultaneously dealing with her own issues with her ex-fiancée Charity (Emma Atkins).

What does it feel like to return to the show?

Oh my goodness! After 19 months, it just feels like forever. Every time I saw people they were asking: ‘When are you back on Emmerdale, when are you back on Emmerdale?’

“When I first walked on set, it was literally like I’d had two weeks off. It was exactly the same – apart from the Covid restrictions. I can’t hug my on-screen sister in a scene and that’s more challenging than you think, actually.

“I was really excited to be back. I was very nervous, I must admit. You think: ‘Can you still do it? Can you still learn your lines with a little one-year-old?’ But so far, so good.”

Have you been watching the show while you’ve been away?

“I did a little bit. Not religiously – I’ve been busy and that’s bath and bed time! But I absolutely loved Super Soap Week. It was fantastic – I was hooked like everyone else. I thought Paige [Sandhu, who plays Meena], Fiona [Wade, who plays Priya] and Rebecca [Sarker, who plays Manpreet] were unreal – I loved it.”

Vanessa returns to the community for a reason.

“Initially, she returns around the Christmas season — soon after the holidays. Tracy and Frankie’s Christmas presents are delivered by her. She is under the impression that it will be a brief visit.

“Vanessa isn’t stupid, and she knows Charity is with Mackenzie. Her sister has obviously kept her informed. There has been a lot of time and a lot of water under the bridge.

“Vanessa was surprised to see Charity and Mackenzie as the first people she sees. Not only that, but she also witnessed them proclaiming their undying love for one another right in front of her.

“Vanessa isn’t jealous of me because it’s been so long. She is unconcerned about it. ‘You knew they were together, it’s not a surprise,’ Tracy explains. Vanessa, on the other hand, notes that seeing them in person reminds her of what Charity went through while she was battling illness and undergoing treatment.

“It’s like: ‘Wow, okay’. The first thing she sees is those two rubbing her nose in it.”

Vanessa appears to be involved in Tracy’s breakup with Nate, don’t we?

“Yes, she has got an involvement. It’s not Vanessa’s fault, but she is involved in a way. What happens does then make Vanessa stick around for her sister, as she wants to be there for her.

“Let’s be honest, Tracy has been through all this with Post Natal Depression and Vanessa was still at her mum’s. She still feels really guilty about that, so she wants to be there 100% for Tracy and do everything she can. She’s going above and beyond to make up for the time she wasn’t there.”

After Nate is abandoned by Tracy, he shows up at Vanessa’s house asking to see baby Frankie, but she refuses. Is Vanessa sure she’s making the correct decision?

“Yeah, she does. I love that side of Vanessa – the little meddling side to her where she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She sends Nate packing on more than one occasion. She’s stopping him from not only seeing Tracy but also Frankie.

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“Vanessa thinks she’s protecting her sister, whereas we know that’s not going to turn out well, is it? She gets a bit of a telling off from Tracy. She’s not a happy bunny at all.

“Vanessa says: ‘I’m only trying to protect you, I’m only trying to look out for you. I wasn’t there before but I am now. I was only trying to help’. And she was.”

Vanessa also discovers Charity’s desire to spend time with Johnny…

“Yeah, Vanessa’s not into that at all. That’s because Charity has not seen Johnny for such a long time and she’s trying to protect him. I know there was the adoption before Vanessa left to go and see her mum, but I don’t think Vanessa thinks it’s healthy for Charity to be spending so much time with Johnny.

“Obviously they’re going to be seeing each other because they live in the same village, but Vanessa’s not a fan. Whether that changes or not in the future, I don’t know, but certainly for now she doesn’t want that to happen.”

Is Vanessa becoming more feisty now?

“Without a shadow of a doubt. I always think back to when Vanessa first arrived and she was this feisty party girl. I think we lost a bit of that when she was with Charity and I’d like to see a bit of the old Vanessa back.

“I’d like her to speak her mind a bit more and not have to answer to anyone. I do think what she has been through has certainly toughened her up. So come on Vanessa!”

Have you missed Vanessa?

“Yeah – she’s been with me for nine years now so you do miss your character. But as soon as you get back and get the yellow coat back and the hair in a pony, it was quite easy to hear her voice again.”

How is it being a mother to your kid Teddy in real life?

“I’m absolutely loving it. Though Teddy must have known I had a 5.50am start this morning because he sleeps really well, apart from last night! I was in make-up at 7am with bleary eyes and had two big scenes with Amy.”

What was your reaction upon seeing everyone at work?

“Oh, it was so good. Don’t get me wrong, obviously I’ve seen my close friends from work when I was pregnant and then after Teddy was born – I’ve seen them quite a lot. But just seeing people and seeing the crew has been absolutely fantastic.

“I’ve been working with Amy Walsh who I adore, and Dominic Brunt [who plays Paddy] who’s one of my best mates, it’s just gorgeous. To get into the swing of things again and have a laugh with them – it’s great.”

With Amy now about to become a mum, have you shared any tips?

“All we do on set is talk about babies – I’m sure everyone is really sick of us. But as soon as I’m back she’ll be going on maternity. I’m not even joking when I say we talk non-stop about it. It’s just really, really exciting. There was me and Laura Norton and now Amy – it’s brilliant.”

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