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Natalie Anderson 77

musical Wicked on the West End stage, but alongside the thrill of performing came the pain of homesickness. Away from her beloved Yorkshire she pined for rolling


countryside and for her husband, and in order to cheer herself up Natalie did what any self-respecting Yorkshire lass would do. She kicked back, picked up a copy of beyond and

plonked herself down in front of the Emmerdale opening titles. “It reminded me of home,” laughed the 28-year-old

actress. “You don’t see a lot of greenery in the centre of London so I needed Emmerdale to escape to the countryside. “And every time beyond came out my husband would

give it to me to read. I’d find out about everything that was happening back in Yorkshire and it made me feel very homely.” Natalie’s friends in the cast of Wicked teased her

about her fixation with Emmerdale, but the star who shot to fame in The Royal simply told them that one day she would be in the soap. And never has a comment been more prophetic,

because Natalie roared back onto our TV screens in August as Emmerdale’s fiery new addition Alicia – the estranged sister of Leyla. For Natalie, who lives in Guiseley with her husband

James, hanging out in The Woolpack and starring in Yorkshire’s favourite show is fulfilling a childhood ambition. “I grew up watching it,” she

said. “I’m a Yorkshire girl through and through and the soap for me has always been Emmerdale. My school backed onto a farm and it was the one I could always relate to.

“I wouldn’t say I’m an obsessive

fan but I could tell you a lot about the Sugdens!” With her fake tan, big jewellery

and outrageous fashion sense Natalie’s larger-than-life character Alicia certainly doesn’t blend into the background, and her personality is equally in-your-face. “She’s like a hurricane,” said

Natalie. “She’s come flying into Emmerdale and turned everything upside down. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She’s an alpha-female – like the lioness of a pride – and she’ll say what she thinks with no airs and graces. “She’s certainly out there. It’s

great fun to play someone who’s so hardened and brash. It’s a bit embarrassing at times, saying the things she says and wearing the things she wears. “I personally wouldn’t agree

with her sense of style. When I’m a mum I hope I won’t be walking around in skirts that look like a belt. “I am a bit worried about being recognised in Morrisons and

t was a dream come true for Bradford beauty Natalie Anderson when she netted a starring role in smash-hit

having people say rude things to me, but I’m so different from her in real-life that I think it would be a sign that I’m doing a good job.” Indeed, Natalie is so unlike Alicia that her fellow

Wicked performers used to call her Nanna Nats backstage in London. “I’d sit around, telling people off, knitting and

drinking tea,” she giggled. “I belong in the 1950s really.” There’s a dark secret at the heart of the strained

relationship between Alicia and Leyla which has just been revealed after being kept well and truly under wraps, and Natalie believes it’s a bomb-shell that will have stunned the Emmerdale audience. “The reveal was fantastic,” she said. “I hope it’ll be

remembered as one of the great Emmerdale moments. Me and my husband were both gasping reading through the scripts.” Natalie believes that more soap plot twists and

revelations should be kept secret from audiences, rather than being publicised in advance as they so often are these days. “Soaps used to be a lot more surprising and I’d like

to see a return to that. I still remember how much I enjoyed some of the best twists from years ago, like when Frank Tate found out about Kim in the fire.” Natalie found it a doddle easing into life on the

“She’s come flying into

Emmerdale set, where she already knew many of her fellow cast and crew members. And though her character Alicia has big issues with sister Leyla – played by Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi – Natalie gets on like a house on fire with her on-screen sis behind the scenes. “Me and Rokhsaneh both share

Emmerdale and

turned everything upside down.”

a very dry sense of humour and we get on great. The whole experience has been such fun. On my first day I just felt so relaxed.” Natalie will be gracing the

soap until at least the New Year, and would love to see how her character develops if she continues in the role. And should Natalie’s career

proceed as it has begun we can surely expect all kinds of other interesting projects in future. Since rising to prominence as

nurse Stella Davenport in ITV drama The Royal five years ago, Natalie has dazzled in the Olivier Award-winning musical Wicked and also recorded her first album – Return To Me. As for the future, Natalie is

certainly not short of ambition. “I’m keen to do more stage work,

star in films and I like to think I’m following in the footsteps of Catherine Zeta Jones – who is my absolute hero. “She started at Yorkshire TV,

just like me, and then went to the West End, just like me. I’ve still got a way to go yet but who knows what possibilities might come my way in future?” Emmerdale is on weekday evenings on ITV1.

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