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HE'S MY HALF BROTHER'S GAY LOVER.. BUT I STILL FANCY HIM; Maneater Nicola reveals the final twist to her stormy five-year career as the meddling mischief-maker in Emmerdale.

Byline: By LAURA DAVIDSON

Her spoiled ways and meddling mischief have been the talk of the Woolpack for the past five years - but Emmerdale's Nicola Blackstock is about to throw her final strop.

Actress Nicola Wheeler announced two weeks ago that she's quitting the soap.

When she bows out in March there will be no shortage of feisty females to fill the gap left by Rodney Blackstock's acid-tongued daddy's girl.

Even so, Emmerdale will be a much quieter place without the scheming cleaning boss.

Nicola, 31, said: "I've had an amazing five years on the show but I just feel the time is right to try something new. I'm not sure what that will be yet."

She will leave the village in a storm of controversy after making a move on binman Ivan (Daniel Brocklebank).

In the meantime, her relationship with fiancA Simon (Dale Meeks) is on the rocks and she's got a few loose ends to tie up before she can get her claws into Ivan. There will be fireworks this week when Nicola discovers Simon has been trying to fleece her of cash. She calls off their romance, cancels their wedding and tells him to sling his hook. He has other ideas, though, and Nicola soon finds she's got a fight on her hands to keep her house.

Actress Nicola said: "It's all going to kick off. This isn't what you could describe as an amicable break-up and it's going to get nasty.

"Nicola's been hurt in love before. She had her fingers badly burned with Carlos before she met Simon and back then her solution was just to sleep with anyone who'd have her. She was definitely out to get revenge on mankind and I wouldn't be surprised if she went down the same route again.

"No single man - or married man for that matter - will be safe. I'm sure Nicola will want others to feel the hurt that she's felt and she doesn't really have principles when it comes to married men."

He's not married - but bisexual Ivan is most definitely spoken for. He's dating Nicola's half-brother Paul (Matthew Bose) but even that doesn't put her off.

"It's a long shot with Ivan," said Nicola, "but she's not ready to give up. She's still got a huge crush on him.

"Personally, I think the whole thing is hilarious. He's having sex with her brother and she's still entertaining the idea of being with him. It's madness. But that's Nicola. Once she sets her sights on something, nothing will stop her."

Nicola reckons her her character's break-up scenes with Simon have been some of the most fun to film in her five years at the soap.

She said: "Simon and Nicola were good together but the change will be good for him.

"Dale and I always joke with each other on set, so we have a good laugh about the huge slagging matches we have on screen.

"The big issue is that each one thinks that they should be the one to stay in the house that they shared and they're trying to make life insufferable for each other so that one will crack and move out.

"Nicola does things like finish the last of the milk in the house in front of Simon, or labels her food in the fridge. It all gets really petty. But it's realistic. That's what can happen during break-ups."

In real life the actress has been on her own for nearly two years.

She split with boyfriend Jayson Waller in summer 2004 due to Nicola's work pressures.

They had lived together in London but with Nicola spending the majority of her time filming near Leeds, she admits it was difficult for them to spend time together and they decided to call it a day. Despite no longer being romantically J linked, the pair have remained friends.

These days, Nicola's heart belongs to her Labrador-cross Jasper, the rescue dog she took home almost two years ago. He lives with her on the outskirts of Leeds.

She laughed: "I live on my own and I have a dog but no boyfriend. It's classic, isn't it? I've got no cats yet, though. I haven't turned into scary cat lady thankfully."

In her spare time, when not walking Jasper, she enjoys running beside the canal near her home - a keep-fit regime she adopted since she gave up smoking.

When she started, she could only run for 20 seconds before getting out of puff. Now she has a medal under her belt for the 13-mile Great North Run. She's also taken part in charity 5km races with her pal Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Laurel Potts in the soap.

Nicola began acting as a teenager after taking a special interest in her drama lessons at school. While studying for her A-levels in her home town of Nelson, Lancashire, she thought she'd like to be a lawyer and had the academic performance to back up her ambitions.

But with a passion for drama as well, she was torn over which career path to follow.

She laughed: "I think, with hindsight, instead of wanting to be a lawyer, I just wanted to be on LA Law! I think instead of wanting to be a lawyer, I wanted to play a lawyer, so the acting bug won over and I went to drama college."

After she graduated, theatre roles led to walk-on parts in shows such as acclaimed drama Band Of Gold and period yarn Poldark.

It was a bit part in Corrie that caught the eye of Emmerdale. She played Melanie Tindel, an engaged friend of Maxine Peacock, who turned up to be her bridesmaid but ended up having an affair with Tom the hairdresser - and a fight with Maxine.

Emmerdale bosses had already written the part of Nicola Blackstock and, after seeing Nicola in Corrie, they had found their girl.

Nicola added: "Nicola is at her best when she's putting her tuppence worth in. She's happiest interfering in other people's business. "I'll miss playing Nicola but I'm excited about trying something new."

SHE'S OUT TO GET HER REVENGE ON MANKIND. NO SINGLE OR MARRIED MAN WILL BE SAFE.. SHE HAS NO PRINCIPLES WHEN IT COMES TO MARRIED MEN

CAPTION(S):

Nicola's romance with Simon, right, is doomed to end in tears' Nicola's Corrie punch-up with Maxine in Corrie and, far right, she makes move on gay Ivan
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 29, 2006
Words:1069
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