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TV Buzz Magazine
12 November 2011

She's A Knockout

Soap stunner Charley Webb admits she's just as fiery as her alter ego as Debbie Dingle fights for her daughter's survival.

Let's face it, if you wanted someone fighting for your life in Emmerdale it'd be Debbie Dingle. There's barely a soul in the soap's village who hasn't received a tongue-lashing from our Debs at one time or another. Quite honestly, she even puts the fear of God into us.

"Debbie has always been a fighter," says actress Charley Webb, admiringly. "Nothing will knock her down and if it does, she'll get back up again. That's why I love playing her!"

Knowing that, it's no surprise Debbie's responce to the heartbreaking storyline that her daughter Sarah is suffering from a life-threatening and rare genetic illness - Fanconi Anaumia - is to come out fighting.

The only option to improve Sarah's health if for to have a bone marrow transplant. But as medics struggle to finda donor who is gentically matched, Debbie and her ex-partner Andy know the only way they can help their child is by having another baby - a savior sibling - and hope it will have the right DNA.

However, the pair are dealt with another blow this week when the IVF clinic turns down their application for treatment beacause they're not a couple. But that setback's no going to stop a lioness like Debbie.

Thankfullly for TV Buzz, while Charley is just as straight-talking as her on-screen character, in real life she's a pussycat by comparison...

Be honest, would you mess with Debbie Dingle?
No way. God no! [Laughs.] Debbie would beat me up in a fight anyday - mainily because I've never had a fight in my life. I don't need to have a physical fight because I've got a big gob on me. But Debbie would totally beat me - anybody would, even little Sarah!

You've been in Emmerdale for nine years, has it ever got bigger than this for you in terms of storylines?
I think this is the pinnacle. I feel a massive responsibility to get the storyline right, as it's so important for the show to be covering Fanconi Anaemia - which is so rare, but such an awful illness. If I can help raise awareness, that can onyl be a good thing.

You've obviously done plenty of reseach for this storyline then.
It's really difficult because it's so rare, so there's not that much stuff on the internet about it. Bassically it's a genetic disorder that can develop into blod cancer. I've met families affected by it - I met a ladylast week whose daughter was born with it. They had another baby, which was best way forward for them. Her story was unbeleivable and she was an amazing woman. and so brave to talk about it.

How far do you think Debbie is prepared to go to give Sarah the best quality of life she can?
Well, there's no bone marrow donor available so she knows the only way to help her daughter is to have a savior sibling with Andy. But when they're turned down for IVF treatment, Debbie is furious.

Uh-oh. What's she planning to do next?
Debbie knows ther's another way she and Andy can have a baby [without sleeping together], so artificial insemination comes into play. Nothing can stop Debbie when she gets the bit between her teeth. She's no bothered what anyone says - she's goin gto help Sarah, no matter what.

Doesn't Debbie cars what her current partner, Cameron, or Andy's girlfriend, Alicia, might think about all of this?
She knows it's goinf to be tough and she soesn't want to lose Cameron, nor does she want Andy to lose Alicia. But ultimately she doesn't care - it's her daughter who matters. Sarah is her priority.

Would you say you're as fiesty as Debbie?
Yes, and my fiance Matthew [Wolfenden, who plays David Metcalf in Emmerdale] would too. He's on the end of it usually. If in doubt blame Matthew - that's what I do! David can definitely hold his own in an argument and doesn't take thins lying down at all, but I'm ussually the one who doesn't give in. Ever. I'd carry a row on forever if I had to.

Poor Matthew! So you have a hot temper, then?
Oh yes, I've not got much patience. It depends on the the situation I'm in, who I'm with and what sort of mood I'm in; but I can definitely lose my temper quite easily. If it's somthing big, I can deal with it, bu the small things in life I don't deal with a all. I got so angry the other day on the train because my phone signal kept going. I was swearing and shouting - people were looking at me like I'd lost it!

Is your family like that too?
There are always rows when we get together. I agree with my borhter Jamie [Lomas, Hollyoaks' Warren Fox] and [his fiancee] Kym [Marsh], who play Michelle Connor in Corrie], Jamie argues with Matthew... My mum's like it too! we're all fiery people. I'm nnot sure anybody would want to come round ours for a roasr. We fight about everything - the telly, a singer, whatever we can, really.

Did you and Jamie fight a lot as kids too?
No really, because I'm so much tounger than him. I was obsessed with my siste Cassie when I was little and hated Jamie, apparently. He had to bribe me to get me to cuddle home and would take me to the shops for sweets if I proised to give him a kiss when we got back. Then, when we came home he'd say: "Right, where'es my kiss?" and I'd be like: "absolutely not!"

Has your son, Buster, inherited you fiery streak?
He's only 19 months old, but I've never known a personality like his. He always has to have his own way, and he's really dominating with other kids - he teases them so badly! He'll get a toy and offers it to one of them, they'll go for it and he'll run away and laugh. What a wind-up merchant.

Is he at the stage where he throws tantrums?
Oh yes. I was in Topshop recently and he was determined to carry this dress around, even though it was londger then him, He was falling over it so I took it off him. Ph my God, the tantrum was unbelieveablem people just stopped and watched. It was horrendous!

So he lives up to his name then?
Absolutely, he's a total Buster. I love his name though. I first heard it when I was chatting to Jake Wood [Eastenders' Mas Branning] at an awards do and he mentioned his sone was called Buster, loved it and stored it in my mind. My sister Cassie has a boy called Spike, and my mum refuses to take them to the supermarket, because she says it sounds like she's shouting after two dogs!

Do Debbie's storylines have more of an emotional effect on you now that you're a mum?
I'm totally neurotic when it comes to Buster anyway - I always fear the worst, no matter where he is or what he's doing. But doing something like this make you thing like that even more. I've always wrapped him up in cotton wool Luckily, Matthew's much more laid-back.

What's the atmosphere on set like when you're doing these big emtional scenes?
I can feen intense, bit I like it like that. I'm not very good at concentrating if people are messing about. I'm really particula, I have to be focused. So the more intense it is, the better for me.

But you must offload to someone when you've had a tough day, right?
Not Matthew - we dont's walk about work, it's viirtuslly never brought up because it can take over your life and I'd much rather keep it seperate. So I'm always ringing my best friend Sheree [Murphy, who played Tricia Dingle in Emmerdale], or Kym, or Casie, basically anyone who'll answer their phone and listen to me rant!

Speaking of Sheree, are you missing her after her relocations to Australia?
It's horrendous, because my other best friend Emily Symons [Emmerdale's Louise Appleton\ moved there too! I wonder if they're trying to tell me something - going to the other side of the world to get as far away from me as possible. It's been really tough. I miss them so much, although I do still speak to Sheree virtually every day.

Finally, if the Dingle ladies - Chas, Charity and Debbie - got into the ring, who would win?
Chas, beacuase she's the wildest and the most vicious. It would definitely be a good fight. Charity would give it a good go, and Debbie wouldn'y stop until someone was down.

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