I am often approached by soap fans who are envious of my job. They ask me who my favourite actor/actress is, they often want to know if the stars are like their on screen characters and I regularly get envious tweets from women when I interview the likes of Mike Parr, Anthony Quinlan and Kelvin Fletcher – who I can confirm, has the best arms in soap.
My answers to most of these questions are usually quite dull. Soap people are for the most part, really nice. They are just ordinary people like you or I who happen to be good at acting. Sometimes, when they are especially down to earth, I forget I am supposed to be doing an interview, which was very much the case when I had afternoon tea with four Emmerdale actresses last month.
Round the table were Natalie Robb who is Moira Barton, Kerry Norton who plays Laura Wyatt, Rhona Henry who stars as vet Rhona Goskirk and last, but not least, Michelle Hardwick who is Vanessa Woodfield.
There was a lot of laughter in the room and to be honest, I was a bit downhearted when the shoot ended and they all went off back to work. I wanted more gossip! And that apparently, is where Natalie comes in because according to the others, she always knows who is doing what.
‘It is ridiculous how well everyone gets on,’ Laura told me. Zoe added: ‘I know it is not very interesting for you as a journalist, it is such a cliché, but we are a happy ship.’
Surely there must be the odd fallout in the shared dressing rooms? Then Zoe cracks. ‘Well, with Amy Walsh who plays Tracy Shankly, it is a bit like having a teenager around.’ Adds Michelle: ‘She spreads her stuff everywhere,’ and just as I am hoping for more dirt, Zoe explains: ‘Even so, she does apologise every day. And before you ask, I am the tidiest, obviously.’
Over sandwiches, cream cakes and fizz, the fabulous four talked about their work on Emmerdale and how grateful they are for the brilliant female roles the show has given them.
Says Laura: ‘Emmerdale is a place where you pass people in the corridor and everyone is an individual, everybody is different and we’ve all got strong characters. The people we play in the soap are all quite complex and I love the fact that they are written with a lot of layers.’
What I really loved about this lot, is that although they are on the telly where their bodies are more scrutinised than most, they all tucked into the sarnies, cream cakes and fizz. Michelle said she really shouldn’t have any bubbly as she had a big scene to film in the afternoon, but it didn’t take much persuasion…
If you want to read more about what was said over tea, read this week’s copy of TVTimes.