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Fan favourite Vanessa Woodfield is heading home to Emmerdale in the new year.
Michelle Hardwick returns to her popular role following maternity leave, and she is notably thrilled to be back at work.
Speaking at an Emmerdale press event, the actor says she is “dead excited to be back!”
Hardwick adds, “I was very nervous, I must admit. You just think ‘ooh, can I still do it? Can I still learn my lines?’ when you’ve got a little one year old... but so far, so good!’”
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Asked about the circumstances of Vanessa’s homecoming, the actor reveals: “She brings the Christmas presents for Tracy and Frankie. And literally, she is just thinking that it’s just going to be a flying visit.”
It’s at this point that Vanessa is faced with the unwelcome sight of ex-partner Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) looking rather cosy with new beau Mack Boyd (Lawrence Robb).
“She’s not daft, she knows that Charity’s with Mackenzie,” explains Hardwick. “She knows that she’s got a boyfriend, because obviously her sister has kept her in the loop.
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“But what she didn’t sort of expect was as soon as she arrived in the village, the first people she saw [were] Charity and Mackenzie. And not only seeing them, but sort of declaring their undying love for each other.”
Charity later attempts to reconnect with Johnny, Vanessa’s young son who she adopted shortly before their split. But Vanessa isn’t best pleased.
“I don’t think Vanessa thinks it’s healthy for Charity to be spending so much time with Johnny,” Hardwick points out.
“Obviously they’re going to see each other because they live in the same village, but yeah, 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.”
Sadly for fans of the former couple, it looks like we shouldn’t expect a reunion any time soon. Meanwhile, Vanessa will be busy supporting sister Tracy (Amy Walsh), who is devastated when she discovers fiancé Nate (Jurell Carter) cheated on her.
“What happens does sort of then make Vanessa stick around for her sister,” says the actor. “Because let’s be honest, Tracy’s been through all this, with post-natal depression and Vanessa was still at her mum’s and she wasn’t around, and she feels really guilty about that actually.”
But it looks like Vanessa’s good intentions will backfire when she interferes in her sister’s life.
This spirited side of her alter ego has been less prominent in recent times, notes Hardwick.
“I always think back to when Vanessa first came into the village, and she was this feisty party girl; and I think we lost a little bit of that when she was with Charity,” she muses.
“So I’d quite like to see a bit of the old Vanessa back if you know what I mean, and you know, 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 yeah, come on Vanessa!”
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