The "Dancing on Ice" Champ and his "Emmerdale" Fiancee
Matthew Wolfenden and Charley Webb tell why their wedding plans are still on ice two years after his proposal
"I think I will always panic about having a big wedding, so it will be brilliant to have Buster with us" Charley
Though Emmerdale actors Charley Webb and her finace Matthew Wolfenden are well-known names, it's their toddler son Buster who's the centre of attention when Hello! visits on a chilly morning in Yorkshire. "He is out life," says Charley, hugging the energetic two-year-old. "He is a live wire and has an amazing personality," adds Matthew - who, in addition to playing David Metcalfe in the hit ITV soap, was recently crowned winner of this year's Dancing on Ice. "If he does something and people laugh, he comes back and does it all over again. I reckon he's going to be an actor."
Talking to us at Woodlands Hotel, near Leeds, in their first interview and photoshoot together since Matthew's win in March, Charley and Matthew say they want their son to take a central role on their wedding day too. "I think I will always panic about having a big day as there is so much pressure on the bride and groom and how they look, so it will be brilliant to have Buster with us," says 24-year-old Charley. "The thought of everyone focusing on me for the whole day fills me with dread." It's a surprising comment, perhaps, when you consider the millions who have watched her every week for the past ten years in the role of Debbie Dingle. "But that's different, it's my job," she says, "We will definintely have a few little ones so everyone will be looking at them instead."
As well as Buster, there's her actor brother Jamie Lomas's six-year-old son Billy, her one-year-old niece Polly (Jamie's daughter with Coronation Street star Kym Marsh) and her sister Cassie's two-year-old son Spike. "We will want them all to be part of the day."
Setting the Date
The couple - who met at an awards ceremony six years ago, shortly before Matthew joined Emmerdale - might know who thay want at their wedding, but they're not so sure when they'll have it. "We got engaged on Christmas Day 2009, then Buster was born the following April and all hello broke loose," says 31-year-old Matthew, laughing. "Then Charkey went back to work, then Dancing on Ice came along and the DOI live tour. We don't disagree on what we want to do for our wedding, but up til now, we haven't had a minute to plan it." They do know a winter wedding is not on the card, however. "Charley is freezing all the time," says Matthew. "We have though about going abroad to get wed, as we like the idea of having the ceremony outside. It won't be a traditional day with a big church service, but there are so many things we still need to decide."
Buster may be the one who settles the matter. His latest phrase, says Charley, is: "I decide." "We've no idea where he gets that from, but it does make up laugh," she adds. Charley is the more organised of the pair, so most of the planning will be left to her. "Oh my God, I have never met anyone as disorganised as Matthew in my life," she laughs. "I had to organise his entire DOI schedule. His partner Nina [Ulanova] used to get so furious with him." "I know, I'm useless," says Matthew, "If I could employ Charley as my PA I would. She's brilliant and sorts everything for me. I'm the easy-going one, but the downside is I don't get things done."
Typicaly, Charley is also in control when it comes to her wedding gown. "I know exactly the dress I am going to wear," she tells us. "I can't speak too much about it in front of Matthew because it should be a surprise, but it's definitely not going to be a meringue. It's going to be something really simple."
Matthew, who has already chosen is best men - his younger brother David and his cousin Neil, who is also his closest friend - admits he was shaking with nerves when he proposed. He designed the ring himself, then had it made by a jeweller friend of his parents in India, before hiding it in a helium balloon to surprise Charley. "I don't think I was ever quite that nervous when I went out on Dancing on Ice," recalls the actor. "I bought a vintage hat pin, which I gave to Charley on Christmas morning - it was in a box with a poem I'd written. Actually I'd written about ten poems and the first one had a message saying to keep the pin, as it might be needed. "Charley found out why when she opened a box filled with small balloons and one big one. When she popped it, she found the ring inside..." "No sorry, pink glitter was inside and it went all over me," interrupts Charley. Matthew laughts: "I'd practised on a small balloon and put some glitter inside with the ring and popped it and it worked brilliantly. But I bought a bigger balloon for the actual day and filled it with more glitter - the whole tub actually - and when Charley popped the balloon we were totally covered in it."
Charley is not the only one sporting an engagement ring, with Matthew also showing off a glittering band. "I was born on the fifth of the fifth month, so my ring has five diamonds set in the ring - that was Charley's idea," he says. By coincidence Charley's brother Jamie proposed to Kym on the same day. "On Christmas morning Matthew had just asked me to marry him when the phone rang and it was Kym sounding so excited and saying Jamie had just proposed to her. He was supposed to propose on New Year's Eve and we all knew he had planned it, but he decided to do it earlier instead." Matthew takes up the story: "We were all meeting up for Christmas dinner, but we didn't want to steal their thunder so it was only after they had told everyone their news that Charley said, 'I've got engaged too.'"
In the following spring, Buster was born - on 3 April, eight days overdue. "I always wanted to be a young mum," says Charley, who adds that they were so convinced that they were having a girl that they hadn't really thought about boys' names. "We couldn't find any that we really liked in baby books," says Matthew. "Then we were in a bookshop that sold DVDs and I walked past a Buster Keaton box set and I said to Charley, 'What about Buster? I really like that, it's a cool name." Adds Charley: "I'd heard it once before when I was talking to the EastEnders actor Jake Wood at an awards ceremony and he mentioned he had a little boy called Buster. I thought, 'I am storing that name.' I just loved it."
Home and Castle
The young family lives in a converted chapel about an hour's drive from the Emmerdale set. "Everyone calls it Dracula's Castle, as it's a big building with turrets, " says Matthew. The couple own one half of the impressive building, which was built in 1801. Buster's playroom is in the turret and the garden has the unusual addition of gravestones. "Everyone freaks out about it, but Charley and I find it so peaceful," says Matthew. " The gravestones in our garden are laid flat now as they are so old It is a very special place." Matthew's parents live close by and his mum looks after Buster during the day, so the couple drop him off on the way to the set. The pair agree that working in the same industry helps their relationship, as they both understand the long hours and demands on their time. They are rarely in scenes together, although Charley says the producers once came up with the idea of putting them together as a couple on screen. "That would be too much. We'd end up killing each other," she laughs.
While Charley always wanted to act ("My mum says I was always dressing up and putting on shows for everyone," she says), Matthew's career was set on a different path. "I was a gymnast in the under-18 British team, but when I was 17 I broke my back and spent almost three years recovering. Then a friend who was into am-dram said, 'Come along. It's really good and we go for drinks after.' I didn't tell anyone, as I was a bit embarressed by it, but I loved it. My dad picked me up a form for a dance college in Leeds and I ended up at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance." The skills served him well in Dancing on Ice. Judge Katarina Wittt told him if he had started skating as a boy he could have been world class. "That was amazing," says Matthew, whose DOI trophy sits in their bedroom: "Next to the flag Buster made at nursary with the words 'Go Daddy' on it, which Charley brought to every show."
So would Charley like to do something like Dancing on Ice? "Oh no, she really does hate the cold," Matthew jokes. What about I'm a Celebrity.. Get Me out of Here!? "I couldn't go into the jungle with all those creepy-crawlies," says Charley. "I think she would be brilliant on Strictly Come Dancing," says Matthew. But who could blame the bride-to-be for saving the first dance for her wedding?