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Sun TV Magazine
1 March 2014

Charley's Angel

She's a single, sexy soap star but Charley Webb will always put her son first

Charley Webb is talking about the toughest year of her Emmerdale character Debbie Dingle's life when she pauses to look at her phone. She's just received a text from her three-year-old son Buster's nanny and her face lights up as Charley tells us that she and Buster are on their way to TV Magazine's photo shoot.

"My son is the most important thing in my life - it's where my priority lies," she says. "But it makes it easier knowing his nanny is coming to work every day. I couldn't do without her. She is my absolute rock."

Which is exactly what Charley, 26, has needed during a difficult 12 months in which she split from her Emmerdale co-star fiancé and Buster's dad, Matthew Wolfenden, after four years together.

Almost seven months on, Charley is fully focused on work and motherhood, and has clearly put the break-up behind her. She is someone of few words when it comes to feelings, but is, she assures us, "fine".

"I take every day as it comes," insists Charley, matter-of-factly. "You just do what you do, carry on with life as it comes at you. "It is what it is. Me and Matthew are great friends. He's an amazing dad and a lovely person, so it all works out well."

Mummy's Boy

With Charley and Matthew - who plays the Dales' David Metcalfe - both soap stars, it's no surprise that Buster is already showing signs of following Mum and Dad into acting. "Oh. My. God. That child is ridiculous," beams Charley. "When he pops in later, you'll see for yourself, he's crazy. He's having street-dance lessons and dances if there is music. He really listens to the beat. I'll show you this video..."

She reaches for her mobile again. "This is him dancing the other day in his pyjamas; hands on his hips. He is ridiculous in the best way. "He is quite hard work - I'll use the word 'spirited' when what I want to say is 'extremely naughty" [laughs] - but I wouldn't have him any other way. He's a mummy's boy." Charley has taken Buster to the Emmerdale set, but. his visits are few and far between because of her busy schedule. In fact, this year has been the most intense time since Charley joined the soap in 2002 at the age of 14. Dealing with the fallout from last year's award-winning storyline about Debbie's serial-killer lover Cameron's murder confession, she was shooting up to 12 scenes a day.

"It's the hardest year on Emmerdale that I've ever done but also the most enjoyable because I prefer the grittier stuff," she admits. "I got used to being completely exhausted all the time. It becomes robotic - you do your work, go home, go to bed, then do it all again. But you look back and think: 'God, I nearly killed myself!' I was busy for about two years without a break. I'm not sure how I did it to be honest. I did have some time uff afterwards, which was nice - I could just be a mum for a bit."

One of the show's biggest stars, Charley's break was, of course, brief. Now, she is embarking on yet another on-screen fling - as Barton brothers Pete and Ross fight it out for Debbie.

"Debbie does seem to move from bloke to bloke," laughs Charley. "But that keeps it interesting because a long-term relationship for me as an actress would be boring. The problem is, I'm not sure Debbie's ready to move on to another man after Cameron.

"She kisses Pete this week and just wants a bit of fun. But we'll have to see how long it lasts till she gets bored. Debbie is never going to just be 'normal', is she?"

Charley admits she isn't a fan of kissing on screen, but it's even more awkward snogging Anthony Quinlan, who piays Pete - as he's best mates with Charley's brother Jamie Lomas (EastEnders' Jake Stone}.

More Sexy Please

"Anthony is part of the family really, so it's worse doing love scenes with him," laughs Charley. "l have never got used to doing them with anybody - I find it difficult to be sexy. That's not me. I'm not flirtatious and quite shy. Every time after the first take in a kissing scene, the director will ask: 'Can you do it a bit more sexy, Charley?' Every time. It usually takes quite a few takes.

"We have pre-wamed Jamie about it. He's not keen - even though he's an actor too, he's definitely an overprotective brother.

"She insists there's no soap rivalry between vthe siblings - "we're both really proud of each other" - but she is disappointed that Emmerdale is frequently overlooked at TV awards ceremonies in favour of EastEnders and Coronation Street.

"To me, the awards are irrelevant, I take absolutely no notice of them," she says. "I don't think the right shows win because of the people that vote for them. It doesn't matter how good Emmerdale is, it doesn't win, so I think: 'Forget it, I'm not going to get annoyed about it."' Our shoot is interrupted by Buster and his nanny's arrival, and he seems to be on his best behaviour, offering his sweets around and picking an outfit for his mum.

While it's her passion for Emmerdale that has kept Charley in the show for almost 12 years, we're now seeing first hand that it's her joy at getting to spend so much time with Buster that looks set to keep her there for many more years.

"Emmerdale fits perfectly with Buster," she says. "It means I can be in one place and go home to him every night. I wouldn't want to be touring the country, not seeing my child from week to week. Unless something amazing came along that I really wanted to do - I am obsessed with Olivia Colman and need to work with her - I'm fine where I am."

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