As fans of Emmerdale will most likely know, Diane Sugden’s (Elizabeth Estensen) daughter Bernice Blackstock is going to arrive unexpectedly in the village next Tuesday…
It’ll soon transpire that Bernice had come running home to mum because she’s having marital problems, and needs some breathing space away from her husband to figure out what she wants.
But of course, her arrival comes at a bad time for separated couple Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) and Ashley Thomas (John Middleton) because they are currently trying to get young Gabby settled into the routine of sharing her time between Laurel and Ashley’s respective homes.
However, Bernice is of course Gabby’s biological daughter, and Laurel is therefore only her step-mother, and to make things worse for Laurel, Gabby hates her, blaming her for splitting the Thomas family up…
So when Bernice turns up, Gabby’s delighted, and actively enjoys playing her real mum off against her stepmum, and as Samantha Giles – who plays Bernice – has told Soaplife, given that her character has always looked down her nose at Laurel, she quite enjoys the ensuing tension too!
She began by explaining why Bernice heads back to the village, saying, “She’s having problems with her marriage and wants to give herself some breathing space and get her head together.
“So she decides to come back to the village to spend some time with Diane and Rodney, and also see Gabby.”
And when asked if Bernice has changed since she left the village after having split from Ashley, Samantha said, “Not at all. She’s got a bit more money, so she can buy more expensive clothes and get her nails and hair done.
“But she’s very much the same person and hasn’t learnt any lessons.”
Of Bernice’s relationship with Ashley, Samantha said, “Well, Bernice has stayed in touch with Ashley over the years because of their daughter, Gabby…
“But I think Bernice still finds him to be a bit pious. She’s mildly amused by him and tends to treat him as a bit of a joke, which irritates him.”
And as to how Bernice’s arrival will affect Gabby, Samantha said, “Bernice thinks they’ll enjoy spending time together.
“She hasn’t really thought about the hard time that Gabby’s had recently with the breakdown of Ashley and Laurel’s marriage.”
Asked how Bernice is likely to react to Laurel being a big part of Gabby’s life, Samantha remarked, “Bernice isn’t being intentionally horrible, but it just hasn’t occurred to her that Laurel might be worried about how Bernice’s reappearance will affect Laurel’s relationship with Gabby.
“Bernice has always been rather patronising and dismissive towards Laurel because she sees her as a cleaner, which is what Laurel was when Bernice first met her.”
But of course in addition, Bernice and her sister Nicola (Nicole Wheeler) didn’t part on great terms, and have always been jealous of each other when it comes to their father, Rodney (Patrick Mower).
Of that, Samantha said, “They’re kind of OK on the surface with each other, but there’s always this rivalry between them for Rodney’s attention.
“And then there’s their history – Bernice had an affair with Nicola’s almost-husband, Carlos, remember. And of course Nicola is now best friends with Laurel.”
And finally, when asked, “So what’s wrong with Bernice’s marriage?” Samantha said, “Well, she’s been having an affair with an older man called Steve and she’s not being honest about that at all.
“She just tells Diane she and husband Charlie are having problems. When Diane finds out the truth she’s furious.
“It doesn’t help that Bernice has left her other daughter, Dee Dee, with Charlie. It’s like history repeating itself because she left Gabby with Ashley.”
Here’s a reminder of when Bernice was last in the village…