As fans of the Emmerdale will know, Charlotte is in the middle of filming her character Laurel Dingle’s descent into alcoholism. TV Times asks how she’s been keeping and it’s certainly not boring (ITV1, Mon-Fri)…
Do you find it difficult playing an alcoholic?
“I’m not a proud actress. I’ve got sick in my hair. All down my clothes. I look an absolute wreck! I can really understand what she is going through as I am a mum of three kids under the age of 10. I don’t drink very much, my reward is chocolate. I try desperately not to have it, but I do.”
Your step-daughter April drinks your vodka and orange, thinking its juice and gets rushed to hospital. What’s Laurel reaction to this?
“It is a turning point for her. There is a scene at the hospital, where Laurel asks April to take off her ‘I’ve been brave’ sticker which the hospital gave her. She also makes April lie to the doctor and say that she took a swig from the family’s vodka. She wants to keep the whole thing a secret from Marlon and is the grip of something she can’t let go of. However, she is still denying it to herself. She doesn’t think she has a problem.”
We never thought we’d see Laurel, a former vicar’s wife, get into this situation?
“That’s what is so brilliant about the storyline. Alcoholics are not always the drunk on the park bench. They can be people you would never suspect. So many women are under pressure like Laurel, juggling work and kids and trying to be the perfect mum.”
Do you think there were any early signs of her drinking becoming out of control?
“Laurel started out having a glass of wine to relax her. If you think back, the signs were there a long time ago – on her wedding day, she ended up drinking that bottle of champagne on her own as Marlon was asleep with April. It has crept up gradually and is now slipping out of control. I spoke to a few women who’d had drink problems whilst I was researching this story. One woman revealed that she had a gin and tonic in the morning so she could plait her daughter’s hair for school as her hands were shaking. It was like medicine to get her through the day, but of course, drink got the better of her as it is Laurel.”
With such a demanding storyline, is it difficult juggling work and being a mum to your three children?
“I am like all working mums. I feel the guilt. My husband and I were talking about it the other day. You feel guilty about everything. You are always thinking ‘Is it enough? Have I done the right thing?’ We are human at the end of the day and don’t want our kids to remember how we were always rushing out the door or checking e-mails.”
“Having three kids is immense. The amount of organisation that it takes alone, aside from work is huge. I often pick up a child at the wrong time or forget a party. But I am lucky with my job. I get days off, I can put my children to bed and take them to school. It works really well actually.”
You must get very tired?
“Being busy makes me ‘feel alive’ and I’m excited about the upcoming twists and turns of Laurel’s story.”
Tell us a bit more about what we should expect?
“We are kept in the dark as to what happens, but there are some real twists in the tale. It is hard for Laurel with this ‘blended’ family. She thinks Marlon is still in love with Donna. April is his priority and Laurel doesn’t feel worth anything – it is all about her lack of self-esteem.
“She has taken this job with Kerry selling make-up and of course, it has given her the excuse to drink, because everyone else is. The story goes further and there is a point of no return – the viewers won’t believe what’s going to happen.”
Does it bother you that people recognise you as Laurel when you’re out and about?
“People shout at me in the supermarket aisles. I’ve had ‘Where’s your drink?’ and ‘Have you got vodka in your trolley?’ Fortunately I didn’t at the time! It doesn’t bother me. I laugh along.”