The actress was seen for one final time as Val Pollard in the soap’s offbeat Christmas Day episode.
Val aka ‘The Ghost of Christmas Future’ featured in a bad dream had by Robert Sugden (Ryan Hawley) during an episode that was inspired by Groundhog Day/A Christmas Carol.
Below Charlie, whose character was killed off by shard of glass in 2015, reveals what it was like being back on set:
You have just appeared in the Christmas episode, how did that come about?
My agent rang up saying Emmerdale have been on the phone, they wondered if you would be available to do the Christmas day special. I thought are they just going to have me lying in a coffin? Or am I going to be disinterred. But no – low and behold it was more theatrical than that!
Was it hard to keep it a secret?
Yes it was very hard to keep it a secret as during my time on the show I never blabbed about anything and in fact I always hated any show spoilers but because we were keeping this a secret for the first time ever I wanted to tell everybody about it.. I wanted to say, ‘Watch on Christmas day I’m going to be on’ but I couldn’t tell anybody about it. The irony!
The episode has been described as a cross between A Christmas Carol and Groundhog Day. Would you agree?
It was a very stylised episode; it wasn’t done as a natural event. Initially, I thought it would be a straightforward ghost. But it was a real visitation – just like Scrooge had. I was the ghost of Christmas future and essentially showed Robert the mirror. Look at yourself and look at look at what your potential is and you have the opportunity to change it.
Did it feel very different to an Emmerdale episode?
It felt odd as I’d been away for so long, but it looked completely different to a normal episode. It was highly stylised and completely theatrical. Val was dressed as a Hollywood siren and everybody else in stark black outfits with hats. It looked more like a painting or a Technicolor film rather than an episode of Emmerdale.
Did you see old friends and colleagues when you recorded it and was it fun to shoot?
I loved being back but it felt a mixture of everything. I walked into the canteen at the village out at location first thing in the morning and there were all the people I used to work with everyday. The props teams, the sparks, camera and sound crews, all the people you’d forgotten how much you loved. So I was a little bit moved and it was so nice because everyone was cuddling me and I felt heavily indulged.
Did anyone get a shock to see you?
Yes there were a few people on the crew that got a shock. Particularly on the catering wagon. I expect they thought oh no we need to put on a vegetarian main now and no peppers again. In fact people kept turning their heads as if they had seen a ghost.
Had they kept any of Val’s belongings/costume/props?
They bought some new but I had to come to the studios for a costume fitting and I said where is my coat I’ve come back to claim my coat? As Val always wore this long sheepskin coat. Anyway I’ve discovered it’s at the Emmerdale Experience now as an exhibit so I won’t be getting that any time soon. But I would love to have it one day as I’ve moulded it, it’s like an Anthony Gormley cast it’s like a sculpture, it fits me perfectly, like a glove.
Did you have a good root about the village for old time’s sake?
It appears that as soon as I left the show they did the whole place up, I don’t know what that means! They’ve refurbished the dressing rooms it’s all been zhoozhed up!
Did you enjoy seeing Val’s grave? Had you ever seen it before?
No I’d never seen Val’s grave before, it’s very mournful. It was a very bitter sweet day. It went from hilarity to deep sorrow the whole day. But the grave, it’s got a big mournful weeping angel on top of it, that makes me really sad. But on the flipside of sad I’m glad it’s the most theatrical thing in the graveyard. I grew up opposite a cemetery in Wallsend where I’m from and my bedroom window overlooked the cemetery. It was like being opposite a sculpture park. When I opened my curtains every morning there was a ten foot white marble statue of Jesus looking at us, so I’m quite at home in a graveyard setting and knowing so many shapes of graves and obelisks I can confirm that Val’s grave is very good!
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m in Peter Pan at the Hull New Theatre playing Mimi the Magical Mermaid with Darren Day we do a lovely duet. I get to sing loads, which I didn’t do on Emmerdale
And finally, overall was it an enjoyable experience returning?
My overwhelming feeling of the day being back at Emmerdale was how much I love it and how much I miss it. I know I made the right decision to leave but it was a real treat to be able to re-live it all again. After ten minutes back it was like I’d never been away, I was bossing everybody around! It was lovely to be there, it was genuinely lovely and it was a treat and a real privilege to get the chance after her demise to go back and see people one more time. This time I really got the chance to say proper goodbyes without the whole of leaving bit.