Billed as a "self-assured party girl" who is always up for a laugh, Vanessa gets a warm reception from her old friend Rhona Kirk (Zoe Henry) upon her arrival in the village. However, it's clear that Rhona's husband Paddy (Dominic Brunt) isn't so impressed, which could lead to tension...
Here, Michelle Hardwick - who plays Vanessa - reveals all the gossip on what fans can expect from her character.
We've heard a lot about Vanessa's fun-loving personality. Just how wild is she?
"On a scale of one to ten, Vanessa's wildness is probably eleven! I think it's been that way since her college days, as she's not really calmed down very much since then."
What is Vanessa's background with Rhona?
"Vanessa and Rhona were at college together. They trained together and they were inseparable. They used to get up to all sorts and were known for being quite a wild pair!"
How does Paddy react to Vanessa's arrival?
"Well, Paddy has never met Vanessa before, but he's heard a lot of stories about her from Rhona. Although those were probably the edited versions of the stories! When Vanessa does finally arrive, Paddy feels quite threatened by her friendship with Rhona. As they haven't seen each other for so long, Vanessa just wants to pick up their friendship where they left off.
"Vanessa thinks that Rhona isn't living life as she remembered her, because she's settled down so much. Now Vanessa wants to carry on the relationship they had when they were in their early 20s, so Rhona goes along with all these nights out and Paddy does feel a little bit left out."
What does Vanessa make of Paddy?
"She thinks he's boring! As soon as she sees him, she can't believe that Rhona has settled down with somebody so stable and serious. Vanessa does know in her heart of hearts that he's the right one for Rhona, though, because he's such a lovely guy. But she's adamant that Rhona needs bringing back to life."
Does she succeed in bringing out a different side to Rhona?
"She's certainly hoping she can! Vanessa wants to bring back the old Rhona, who nobody else has seen yet. Watch this space - she'll try to work her magic."
As Paddy is feeling left out, will this situation cause problems between him and Rhona?
"Initially yes, because Rhona is out with Vanessa nearly every night, and she's leaving Paddy at home with Leo. Vanessa isn't trying to split Rhona and Paddy up, but she thinks that it's her turn to spend some time with Rhona now - she wants her mate back. Vanessa is just quite selfish when it comes to friends. She's demanding and she's used to getting what she wants."
Does Vanessa make her presence felt on her first night out in the village?
"She does! She ruffles a few feathers with Marlon, and she eyes up Andy Sugden at the bar. Vanessa is definitely looking to see where the talent is."
What type of guy does Vanessa usually go for?
"I think Vanessa would definitely go for muscles and looks. It's certainly brawn over brain at the moment for Vanessa, without a doubt. She likes the bad guys!"
How popular do you think Vanessa will be in the village?
"I think it's going to be a real mix. A lot of people are going to think she's fun and want to hang around with her, but then some of the older residents feel differently. She does rub Edna up the wrong way straight away at the vets, which is never a good thing!
"I think there's going to be certain people who love Vanessa, but also people who think she's trouble."
Would you be friends with her?
"Absolutely, I love her! I think she's got so much bottle. She lives life to the full. Playing someone like that is great, as you can just let yourself go. I'm far more sensible in real life."
How well have you settled into the show?
"I'm loving it. It's been a few weeks now and everyone has just been so welcoming, both cast and crew. I actually knew a lot of the crew members already from my old job at The Royal. I'm loving it and the village is so beautiful. Plus, I'm a local girl so it's just around the corner for me."
Along with the crew, were you familiar with many of the cast?
"I knew Natalie Anderson, who plays Alicia, because of The Royal. We go way back from when we trained together, though, and we're really good friends. It's fantastic to be working with Natalie again.
"There's also Andy Wear, who plays Jude - I've known him since I was 19. We've toured together and we did The Royal together. I've also previously worked with the new cast member Tom Mannion, who's playing Steve. He started on exactly the same day as me, and I had no idea until I saw his name up on the board. He played my boyfriend in The Royal for four episodes."
What was your first day on set like?
"My first day was in The Woolpack. I had three scenes and I'll never forget it. It was with Zoe, Dom Brunt and Mark Charnock, so it was a pleasure. I was very nervous, but I think you've got to have that adrenaline."
Were you a fan of Emmerdale before joining?
"Yes, I love it and all of my family love it. Because it's a local soap to us, I've watched it as far back as I can remember, ever since the age of 11 or 12."
Who will Vanessa be sharing a lot of scenes with?
"Well, obviously she's friends with Rhona, but at one point she actually says, 'I'm going to have to make new friends because Paddy is going to want Rhona back at some point!'
"Vanessa gets very friendly with Moira, which is lovely because they're about the same age and they're both on the lookout for men. There's a few glasses of wine to be had with Moira, and when Alicia comes back there's a few glasses with her as well. In fact, Vanessa has a drink with anybody who'll talk to her!"
You mentioned that some people think Vanessa will be trouble. Will she be?
"Yes, but not trouble in a really bad way. It's trouble in a fun, good way because she's got a heart of gold. Vanessa wouldn't ever set out to hurt anybody, but she does like to get her own way. She's not a bad girl, though, not intentionally. I think she might be misunderstood!"
Are you planning to watch your first episode when it goes out next week?
"I know for a fact that my family will all be round at my mum and dad's with a few bottles of champagne. But I'll be watching it through my fingers!"
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