Emmerdale‘s Pauline Quirke talks to Soaplife about the latest drama to fill Hazel’s life: she finds a baby in a phone booth! And she reveals the emotion behind her upcoming departure…

The baby Hazel finds is Amy’s newborn boy. Does she think he’s dead?
“Yes. She phones for an ambulance immediately and whisks the baby home, meeting Zak and Lisa on the way.”

But he’s alive…
“You see her reaction to this tiny baby who’s not moving and doesn’t seem to have any signs of life but then, thank God, there is some movement. But he’s only just alive and in a bad way. Hazel, Lisa and Zak do their best to keep the baby as warm as they can until the ambulance comes along. It’s very dramatic and very sad.”

Then the police want to talk to them…
“But they don’t know much. As they say, though, nothing happens in that village without someone noticing. Someone will know something. There’s lots of speculation about who the mother and father are – but there are no suspicions that the baby might be Amy’s.”

How does Hazel feel when she finds out it is Amy’s?
“She’s surprised and concerned. She later asks Amy how the baby is doing and Amy replies she’s putting him up for adoption. Hazel’s not at all judgemental. She says Amy must do what she feels is best for the baby. She’s speaking from her heart.”

Does Amy tell Hazel who the father is?
“Yes. She confides that the baby is Cain’s. Hazel doesn’t reply to this, but I do have a scene with Jeff [Hordley, who plays Cain] later on in that episode. Hazel tells Cain a few home truths and, for once, Cain’s rather taken off guard. She hits the spot with him. ‘You’re not happy,’ she says. ‘How would you know?’ he replies and Hazel says she’s an expert. So she can see something in him. It was wonderful to watch Jeff acting because maybe for the first time ever you see Cain being vulnerable.”

Hazel also tries to comfort Declan over Mia’s death…
“I didn’t know about that and was very shocked when I saw the script. They’ve got a history because Declan was so marvellous about the cottage alterations when Jackson had the accident. She explains to Declan – who wants to clear out all Mia’s stuff – how she was after Jackson’s death. She tells Declan to take his time and think about it first. She’s not prying into his business, but doing what she thinks will help.”

Aaron’s rebuilding his life – will Hazel do the same?
“She keeps saying so and is doing what she can. But Jackson’s memory is in the village and I don’t know if she will ever be able to properly move on – or would want to. I think what she probably feels is that she’s holding Aaron back. We haven’t done this yet, but it’s well known that I’m leaving the show at Christmas so maybe it’s a decision both Hazel and Aaron come to over what’s the best for each other, really. Maybe Hazel leaves to let Aaron get on with life as best he can.”

But you’ve enjoyed working at Emmerdale?
“Oh, I’ve absolutely loved it! I got tearful just finding out when my last day was. It has been the most incredible 18 months.”