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TV Quickfire: Michelle Hardwick and Emma Atkins on shock twists in Emmerdale

Michelle Hardwick as Vanessa Woodfield and Emma Atkins as Charity Dingle in Emmerdale

HARROWING flashbacks in Emmerdale revealed more about Charity Dingle's past, including sexual abuse and the baby she lost when she was just 14. But there was a shocking twist – unbeknown to Charity and her girlfriend Vanessa, the baby survived. Stars Emma Atkins and Michelle Hardwick tell us more

HOW WILL CHARITY FEEL WHEN SHE FINDS OUT HER SON IS ALIVE?

Emma: What would anyone think? You just have to be human to know that would knock anybody west. Just such an enormity, the gravity of that situation...

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION, AS AN ACTRESS, WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT IT?

Emma: [It was] an amazing idea of [Emmerdale writer] Caroline Mitchell's, really. There's this episode that I can't really talk about... but she writes the most exquisite episodes. It's where Charity is face-to-face with her past, and it's remarkable. I was overjoyed that there was something else that we're going to visit.

IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE VANESSA SHOULD BE EXPECTING DOMESTIC BLISS WITH CHARITY ANY TIME SOON...

Michelle: Oh no, it's not an easy ride. If Rhona [Vanessa's ex-girlfriend] was upset, Vanessa was very quick to hug her or have that physical contact. I've made a conscious decision not to let Vanessa do that with Charity, because she knows how volatile Charity can be. She does just keep that little bit of distance until she's invited in by Charity.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE CASTING OF MICA PROCTOR AS A YOUNG CHARITY?

Emma: Incredible, she's insanely brilliant. She doesn't have to speak and her eyes say it all. She's a very talented, clever actress and she was such a gorgeous human as well. She came in and she was part of the team, very gracious. She's a grafter.

Michelle: She'd been watching lot of clips of Emma and tried to mimic her mannerisms. She'd really done her homework on it. She's fantastic.

YOU HAD SOME REALLY EMOTIONAL SCENES TOGETHER. HOW CHALLENGING WAS THAT?

Emma: It was the hardest thing I've ever done on the show, but I've loved every second of it. I know that sounds weird, but I think as an actor, it's great to be given something where there's a whole host of things going on with her past, the sadness that's attached to her baby passing away... It was extremely difficult, but it was great teamwork. Michelle made it so easy as well, and we bounce off one another really well.

Michelle: Vanessa's the audience, she's everybody else who's watching it. So it would've been very easy for me to be there and gasping and giving it large or whatever, but you don't. It's just listening and stillness, because it's Charity that we're all watching. It's been a joy. And watching this one work... I've learnt a lot from Emma just over the last few weeks and months.

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT, AFTER A DAY'S WORK, TO GET DARK STORYLINES OUT OF YOUR HEAD?

Emma: You switch off when you get home, because your responsibilities suddenly come railroading in. I've got a little boy and a dog, and my house is very hectic. I only have to think about Albert [her son] when I'm doing a scene, and it immediately brings emotion. He's my go-to actually in many ways. Even the thought... I can't even bear to go there, the thought process of what if... I can't even say it. But he's an amazing inspiration.

:: Catch up on Charity's flashback episode on ITV player. The drama continues in Emmerdale weeknights on ITV.

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