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It's Laurel's dream day..but I'm glad she didn't design a dress; Charlotte Bellamy on the long-awaited Emmerdale nuptials.

Byline: By LAURA DAVIDSON

Pretty Charlotte Bellamy had never even tried on a wedding gown before being dressed head-to-toe in white satin and lace for Emmerdale favourite Laurel Potts' big day.

The usually dippy cleaner makes a truly beautiful bride - and Charlotte will be cheering along with the soap's army of fans as her scatterbrain character finally ties the knot with her dream man next Sunday.

But seeing Laurel's exchange of vows with mild-mannered vicar Ashley Thomas (John Middleton) hasn't given Charlotte, 32, any notion to race down the aisle herself.

She's been with long-term partner, freelance TV producer Mungo Denison, also 32, for 15 years, and the couple have a13-month-old son Sunnie.

But Charlotte said: "I don't get sentimental over things like that. For me, trying on Laurel's wedding dress was just like putting on another costume.

"Mungo and I have a mortgage and a baby together - you can't get a bigger commitment than that. We're solid and having Sunnie is just like the icing on the cake for us, really. It's lovely to have this little person who's a part of us both."

For Laurel, however, Charlotte admits that walking down the aisle is the be-all and end-all.

She added: "This is what Laurel has always wanted and it's so nice to see her get it."

There will be tears of sadness, however, before Laurel is allowed to shed tears of joy.

This week sees Emmerdale stalwart Seth Armstrong's tear-jerking exit, following the death in February of 74-year-old actor Stan Richards, who played the character for nearly 27 years. The former gamekeeper last appeared on screen on Christmas Eve last year and scriptwriters wrote in a long-haul trip for him after actor Stan died peacefully in his sleep at home.

Seth's long-time love Betty (Paula Tilbrook) this week hears of his return but when she goes to pick him up at the airport, she's devastated to hear that he died en route back to Emmerdale.

Seth's funeral is a tear-jerker, not least because it brought back memories of the real-life farewell to Stan earlier this year for many of the cast.

Charlotte said: "It was really moving to film and the tears that you see us all shedding are real. Stan was such a lovely man."

After Seth's death, Laurel at first feels that planning a wedding is inappropriate when the village is in mourning. But after the funeral, she decides she wants to 'live for the moment' as her surrogate grandfather would have wanted and tells Ashley she wants to marry him right here, right now.

Laurel ditches the idea of having a hand-made wedding dress she designed herself and instead decides to take Betty up on the offer of borrowing her 1950s wedding gown.

Charlotte said: "Betty's like a grandmother to Laurel and she's thrilled to bits when she offers her dress.

"It's a 1950s style and it really suits Laurel's personality. Of course, she adds her own little extra touches, including a string of pearls but she looks very pretty.

"It's just as well in the end that she gets to wear Betty's dress because I shudder to think what Laurel's own design would be like. She's not exactly understated in her dress sense."

Ashley and Laurel's romance hasn't been plain sailing. There was a big 'will-they, won't-they?' question mark hanging over their relationship before they finally got it together and Ashley proposed.

Then, true to form, unpredictable Laurel pulled a surprise out the bag and told Ashley he'd have to wait four months for her answer while she disappeared to do volunteer work in Tanzania.

The cleric waited patiently for her return and when she came back to Emmerdale and said 'yes', most folk thought they had it made.

Scriptwriters had other ideas, though, and when the Bishop heard about their plans to marry, he put the cat among the pigeons, demanding that Ashley make a tough choice between his church or his fiancAe.

Just to put the tin lid on it, meddling curate Ethan Blake (Liam O'Brien) then tried to split up the couple after he developed a crush on loveable Laurel.

Charlotte added: "She's had quite a lot of ups and downs this year, so it's nice to see things working out for her in the end.

"If she has anything to do with it, she and Ashley will be having kids right away - but things never really go according to plan in soaps, so we'll need to see what happens.

"Personally, I think she'd be a great mum and I'd love to see her have kids because she's got a lovely caring side.

"That's one of the great things about playing Laurel - she's got so many elements. She's funny and makes people laugh but she's also a very emotional soul and she's so loving. She's just lovely to play."

If Laurel is to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet, that's one area where Charlotte would like to see similarities in their lives.

Sunnie was a year old in September and Charlotte says she and Mungo would like to have two more kids.

She added: "In some ways, we can't believe Sunnie is more than a year old. I think time passes so quickly when you have children.

"He's crawling now and we're getting ready for the stage when we'll have to clear the decks because he'll be running around the place in no time. He's also starting talk. He says 'mamma' and 'dadda' but he says them to the catflap or floor.

He doesn't actually associate the words with me or Mungo yet. It'll be lovely when he does.

"Both Mungo and I come from families with three children, so we'd like to have three ourselves. We'll just need to see what fate brings."

The couple, who met when they were performing arts students at Middlesex University, have homes in North London and near the Emmerdale set in Leeds.

Most time is spent in Leeds, due to Charlotte's busy six-day-a-week filming schedule but the family like to get back to London whenever they can, not least to be near Charlotte's mum Gill, in Hertfordshire.

Charlotte added: "Family becomes even more important when you have kids and I've been in touch with my mum for advice a lot this past year. It's nice to get down and see her whenever we can - she spoils Sunnie rotten and he loves it

CAPTION(S):

Vicar Ashley pops the question as Laurel sets off for Tanzania; Ethan ends up in the church with Kelly after Laurel rejected him; Betty is joined by Woolpack regulars after Seth's funeral, including blast from the past Malandra Burrows, who played Cathy; Ashley's dad gives the newlyweds a surprise; Laurel finally has her dream wedding day when she marries vicar Ashley
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 30, 2005
Words:1132
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