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She may be a gold-digger but Charity is a tart with a heart; Cover story.


EMMERDALE sex-bomb Emma Atkins has been involved in some of the soap's steamiest storylines.

As gold-digger Charity Tate she married wealthy wheelchair-bound businessman Chris Tate, having bedded his lesbian sister Zoe.

But she could be about to get her come-uppance, as she gets mixed up with village villain Ray Mullen.

With her huge, hazel, doe-eyes and blonde hair, her fiesty storylines have made Emma, 27, one of the most recognisable faces on the show.

She said: "My storylines have just got bigger and better every few months. I just love it."

Charity took everyone by surprise - not least Emma - when she fell for vet Zoe (Leah Bracknell) despite seeing her brother, Chris (Peter Armory).

After a brief fling, Charity switched her affections again and has since married Chris - despite Zoe attempts to stop the liaison.

Zoe said: "When I found out I was kissing Leah I was like 'Oh. My. God!' Then when I found out I was marrying Peter it was the same again.

"Every time I read the next batch of scripts I'm straight on to my mum, saying, 'Read this' and she's like, 'Oooooh!' So there's always that element of shock or surprise.

"You have to be prepared for stuff like that but I would be a liar if I didn't say I was really nervous about it.

"When I read 'Zoe snogs Charity', the blood drained out of my face. But you just have to go along with it, believe in your character and see it through.

"You can't really go: 'I'm not doing that!' because the reply is likely to be, 'Alright, you're sacked. '

"Fortunately, Peter, Leah and I all get on brilliantly. We get the scripts and ask ourselves if it can get any worse for them! It's really important to have that working relationship. We all have a ball."

She added: "I think we're finished with the lesbian affair - I think that's run its course to be honest. There will be repercussions and echoes of feelings and emotions but I think that sort of story has had its day."

So has one of soapland's more bizarre love triangles settled down into domestic bliss for good?

It seems unlikely. There is more trouble on the horizon for Charity.

She's about to find herself in deep problems with Emmerdale's Mr Big, Irish schemer Ray Mullan, played by Seamus Gubbins. He is hatching a dodgy money-making scheme and, ever keen to make a quick buck, Charity is about to fall foul of it.

But as far as Emma is concerned, it's nothing Charity can't handle. She said: "She can look after herself and I must admit I like her - but I could never be anything like her.

"There is a bit of a gold digger about her. Money dictates certain things - I mean, she married Chris and even admitted to him at one point she didn't love him and that money was a major attraction.

"But she also said she had a lot of feelings for him as well, which would grow. She's quite honest, really. Not a lot of people would admit that.

"Charity has developed over the last two years and she's getting bigger, feistier and more business-oriented, which makes her stronger in the show.

"I've grown into the character. When I read some of the lines I think, 'Brilliant - that's exactly how Charity would say that.'

"And if there's a line which doesn't ring true I get a bit passionate and tend to say something. But most of the time it's spot-on and the writing really brings my character to life.

"It will be interesting to see where she's going to go. I like to be surprised.

"Now that she's involved in the Tate enterprise, she's working her way up to being the boss, really, and she's always going to remain cheeky and mischievous, which is what I like. As long as she remains a tart with a heart, I'm quite happy with that. She's playful, she's not evil or corrupt, but she likes to mix it up a bit."

Born in Morecambe, Emma was brought up in Silverdale, a village not unlike Emmerdale, just outside Kendal in the Lake District.

She enjoyed an idyllic childhood, with her sister Jillian, and her parents, Lilian and Ian, who run an interior design business.

Emma now stays in Manchester but remains close to her family.

She said: "My Mum and Dad are sort of living it all through me. They watch everything I do and are really supportive and really proud of me.

"My Mum loves to read all the scripts. I'll sit in bed with her and read through them. She can't take it in. Two years on, she still thinks it's brilliant!"

"She had a ball when she saw Charity was getting kissed by Zoe and my dad even more so. So the support is 100 million per cent there."

But the men in Emma's soap life can't compare to her real-life love for cartoon slob Homer Simpson. She admits she is always doing impressions of him. She said: "I would love to do voice-overs for cartoons. When I watch the Simpsons I always think I would love to do that sort of thing. I love all the characters, but I've got a soft spot for Homer.

"I'm a real people watcher and I pick up things and create little characters in my head. I love doing voices and impressions.

"I have done monologues for my old university of char-acters I have created. I'm going to try to make a little radio tape in the future and see if I can do something with them because it's just something I'm really interested in."

Another of Emma's hobbies is running. She is still nursing sore legs from her first marathon in London last weekend.

She ran the distance with Emmerdale co-stars Chris Chittell, who plays Eric Pollard, and Tony Audenshaw, alias Bob Hope, raising money for Leukaemia Research.

She was determined to run over the line - not crawl - despite being sick at 23 miles. St John's Ambulance staff told her she didn't have to finish it, but she wasn't for giving in.

She said: "Can you imagine giving up at 23 miles?" she said.

"No way. It was a fantastic feeling getting over the finishing line."

She first took up running when she was studying for her degree in performing Arts at Salford University in Manchester and couldn't afford to join the gym.

Her success as Charity has made those days a thing of the past.

She said: "The last two years have really flown by. I feel privileged because I got the job when I was still at university doing my degree so that kind of made me go, 'Wow! Why is this happening to me all of a sudden?'

"It was only a three-month contract but it was more than I could have dreamed of - and then that turned into six months, that became a year and it's just been the best roller-coaster.

"It was really hard for the first six months because I was juggling Emmerdale and university. But when you want something badly enough it doesn't matter. And it's been worth it."

She is currently single and blamed the break-up of her last relationship on pressure of work.

Despite her new fame, Emma has few complaints and has adapted easily to becoming a household face.

She said: "I don't think it has affected me. It has not changed me. Emotionally and mentally, I'm the same person, but obviously I can't see my friends as much as I would like.

"Fame is treating me very kindly. It's very strange - you walk into a supermarket and people stare at you and you think, 'Why are they staring?' Then you remember, 'I'm on the telly'.

"But people have been so kind. You'll get the odd lad at a pub shouting something or other but that's very rare. Most people are terrific."

She recently flew to New York for four days on her own and has developed a bug for travel. But in the meantime, she is no hurry to move out of either Manchester or Emmerdale.

She said: "I'd like to go travelling around the world but I would have to put my life on hold - maybe I can do it a month at a time.

"I haven't got any plans to go anywhere right now and I've no plans to leave Emmerdale.

"I think there's a long way to go to fulfil Charity's potential. I really, really love my job and I'd be a fool to walk away from it."
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Title Annotation:Cover Story
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 21, 2002
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