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New! Magazine
15 October 2012

"I'm not a massive believer in marriage"

Emmerdale's Charley Webb rocks this season's must-have floral print and reveals why she's in no rush to tie the knot...

Here at new! we love a good soap drama and, next week, during Emmerdale's 40th birthday celebrations, you can't get any more dramatic than two births, two marriages and a surprise death in one episode - which also happens to be live.

So we wanted to celebrate the famous farm's milestone, too, and invited one of the soap's key characters, actress Charley Webb, who plays Debbie Dingle, down to new! HQ to talk about her live episode nerves, motherhood and being engaged to co-star Matthew Wolfenden, 32 - all while modelling autumn's floral print trend.

The 5ft 5in actress, who's a size 8, nearly didn't make our shoot as her two-year-old son Buster didn't want her to stay overnight in London! "He's always been a bit like, 'My mummy.' He's like my little mate and he expects to go everywhere I go," she tells us.

As we sit and admire her diamond engagement ring while she gets her hair and make-up done, we can't help but quiz her about her lack of wedding plans. "People say to me all the time, 'Why aren't you married?' People are obsessed by it. We've got a little boy, which is much more important," she says.

Here, Charley, 24, tells new! why she couldn't be a stay-at-home mum, and how she helped plan her brother Jamie Lomas's wedding to Corrie's Kym Marsh...

You and Matthew have been engaged for nearly three years. Have you made any wedding pians yet?
No, because we're too busy. It's not a big deal, I can easily just not get married. It would be nice to have the same last name as Buster but, apart from that, I'm not a massive believer in marriage.

Matthew previously said you'd like to get married abroad on a beach. Is that still the case?
Yeah. He's really into marriage so he probably would get married quickly, whereas I'm a little bit more laid-back about it. And the more pressure people put on me to do things... I'm one of those people that'll go, 'I'll do it in my own time."

How did you enjoy being Kym's bridesmaid recently?
It was an amazing experience.

You helped plan her hen do. Were you involved in any other planning?
I did quite a lot of the wedding plann'ng with her because she's one of those people who likes other people's opinion, so we did quite a lot together. Jamie was a typical guy - he was definitely more laid-back about things - so I took over a bit.

Was Kym really nervous on the day?
She was really calm, although a bit jittery during the stress of getting ready.

You and Kym have always been close, but did planning the wedding bring you even closer?
Yeah. We're just like sisters. We argue like sisters, talk like sisters - we're really close.

Did you take any inspiration for your own wedding from Kym's?
I gave them quite a lot of the ideas. Like the whole wedding dance.

Would you also like to have a big wedding, like theirs?
Mine will probably be a lot smaller.

Really, how come?
I've never really wanted a massive wedding. I don't want the attention. But their wedding ceremony wasn't really big so it wasn't a massive church, which was nice.

Were you nervous?
I think I ran down that aisle as fast as I possibly could [laughs].

Did everything go according to plan on the day?
It went really smoothly. And the entertainment was reaily good so you weren't bored at any point.

At the receptinn, Matthew read a poem he had written. Was he nervous?
I don't think so. He quite likes doing things like that.

Do you hang out as a foursome much?
Yeah, we spend a lot of time in with the kids. It's nicer chilling out at home.

How do Buster and Kym and Jamie's 18-month-oid daughter Polly get on?
They get on really well. Buster's a very confident child so he'll talk to anyone. Polly's a bit more subdued than Buster but he brings her out of her shell.

You recently posted a picture on Twitter of you trying to teach Polly to pose and pout. How's she getting on with that?
She's getting good! I can't do that with Buster so I have to use Polly instead!

You play a majar part in EmmerdaIe's live episode. Are you nervous?
I am quite nervous. It's massively important to ITV and something that will be remembered, so when you're involved with something like that it's nerve-racking. If something goes wrong it can have a knock-on effect.

You've been playing Debbie for ten years now. Have you ever had the itch to leave?
Yeah, of course - you're always going to have that but I've been so challenged with my storylines that I haven't had that desire to leave the show. If I didn't feel challenged then I would have gone a long time ago.

Would you ever do a reality show like Dancing On Ice, which Matthew did earlier this year?
I'm really happy with what I'm doing at the moment and I don't have any desire to put myself under that pressure right now. I'm under enough pressure with what I'm doing and timings haven't been right.

Have you ever been approached?
A few years ago Dancing On Ice wanted me to go and meet with them, but I didn't.

Were you surprised when Matthew agreed to do the show?
No, because he loves the challenge and he loves that feeling of having an aim to accomplish something different and learn a new skill. He wants to be good at everything, whereas I'm more focused on one thing at a time.

What is Buster's personality like?
Oh, God. He's got a massive personality. He's so confident. He's very challenging. He knows his own mind, and if he doesn't want to do something, he won't. So I won't lie, it's hard work.

You've tweeted about visiting schools for Buster. How did it go?
He won't be starting until next September but I just fell in love with this one school. I had a gut instinct about it. The school has a lot of the same morals l have.

Like what, for instance?
Bullying for me is such a massive thing. I was bullied as a child and I don't want Buster to go to school and have to feel that.

What were you bullied about?
I'd prefer not to speak about that if that's okay.

Do you worry for him?
Of course I want him to be academic but I want him to be happy. You can always work on the academic side and they're either going to be academic or not. I don't want him to feel that pressure. It's so important for me.

Does Matthew's mum still look after Buster while you're both working?
Yeah, and he goes to nursery two afternoons a week. We're always going to need help because of our [working] hours.

Last time we spoke, Buster wasn't sleeping well. Has it got any better?
No, he still doesn't sleep. He was awake yesterday from 4am till 7am and he was just like, "Hi!" He did sleep through the night for a while when he was a baby but then he decided he didn't want to do that any more. But he'll grow out of it. Sometimes I think we expect too much of them.

Is he potty-trained?
He's in the process at the moment.

How is that for you'?
We're constantly out and about so it's a lot more difficult to get him potty-trained. You've got to stay in at home and that's not feasible for me. He's got a potty that sings to him when he's done a wee. He sings potty songs to himself when he's sitting on the potty. It's hilarious.

What sort of boy's stuff do he and Matthew do together?
They go splashing in puddles. Matthew took him to Flamingo Land the other day and he loved it. But it all depends on what he's like when he wakes up. You never know what kind of day he'll have. He's a proper boy.

Do you get to spend many days out together as a family?
We do, but maybe half days. We do a lot of things in the evenings together. We don't have as much time as other families might have as we sometimes work weekends.

Has being pregnant in Emmerdale made you broody?
No! I didn't enjoy being pregnant. I had sickness all day and night so there was no relief from it. The thought of going through that again - and with having a two-and-a-half year old - it isn't on the cards!

Do you get asked a lot about having another child?
Yeah. I don't want a huge age gap between them but I'm not desperate to have another one either. it's a lot of pressure and with us working so much it's difficult to put everything on hold. The decision to have another child is so big. Going from one to two is a massive leap. And I'm not ready to get up through the night again.

How many would you like?
I'd like two but Matthew wants three - he'll have to find someone else for that [laughs].

Could you see yourself being a stay-at-home mum?
I'm not a stay-at-home mum now and I wouldn't want to be. It's not for me but I take my hat off to anyone who can do it. I need that sanity of going to work and not singing potty songs all day. Don't get me wrong, I love it when I'm doing it, but I enjoy going out to work too.

You were 21 when you got pregnant. Did you ever worry that win were too young to become a mum?
No, I always knew I'd be a young mum. I don't know where it came from but I wanted to and I have done. But I can see why people wait and prefer to have a career.

Does Buster ever ask you for a baby brother or sister?
No, he's not quite at that age yet. And if he sees me holding another baby, he's sometimes like, "You're my mummy."

How do you keep your romance alive with a toddler around?
It's really hard. I get home, see Buster, run through some lines and then shattered and end up going to bed. We're not massively romantic anyway and, personally, I'm too tired. I think it's important to have those nights as a couple but, if we plan nights, when it gets to it I'm usually too tired so we end up doing things with the three of us. That works for us.

Has the age gap between you and Matthew ever caused a problem?
I don't really notice there's an age gap. He's like a child in his mind. If anything, I'm a lot older-headed than he is.

Do you see each other much on set?
We might bump into each other in The Woolpack but we don't have any scenes together, so no.

Would you like your characters to get it together?
No. They did mention that to us and I said no - we'd kill each other. It's really important to have that separate life.

Has working in the same industry benefited your relationship?
Yeah, you can understand it more. It's hard for someone who's not in the business to see their partners do kissing scenes, whereas it's so normal for us and we never acknowledge it. And the hours are also long so you have to accept that, and it's difficult to if you're not in the same job.

You're in great shape at the moment. How do you do it'?
I exercise when I can. I really hammered the gym after I had Buster but it got to the point where I felt I could have been spending those two hours with him. I eat healthily but I'm not a gym bunny. I'd much rather spend that time with Buster.

Where do you like to shop? Are you more high street?
Definitely. I'm not a massive fan of designer stuff. It doesn't appeal to me. I love Topshop - you can't go wrong.

What is the most expensive item of clothing you own?
I'm more of a handbag person.

What's the most you've spent?
I can't really remember...

A few hundred?
[Laughs] Maybe slightly more. I wouldn't like to say, really, because it's cringe! I'm a bit of a handbag freak.

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