EMMERDALE viewers will remember legend Val Pollard as the life and soul of the party during her time in the village.
Val – who was played by Charlie Hardwick from 2004 to 2015 – was at the centre of some huge storylines over the years – including being diagnosed with HIV and eventually being killed off in a gruesome helicopter crash death.
The actress has opened up about her life after the soap – from cancelling her own leaving do to her own health battles.
Charlie, who played the lovable loudmouth for 11 years, was dramatically killed off when she was trapped in the house of mirrors and a shard of glass landed on her.
The actress said she was "really hurt" by her character's "savage" death.
"I loved Emmerdale," she told The Mirror.
"I have to say I was absolutely shocked when I found out they were going to kill Val.
"That’ll teach us for saying time for me to go!"
Charlie previously said that she had debated whether to stay on the soap or leave before she was brutally killed off.
The star explained that the "gruelling" meant she started her day at 5.45am to travel to Leeds for filming.
The telly favourite told ChronicleLive: "Those endless long days after being in the dark! The studio has to be blacked out, otherwise the daylight would ruin the shots.
"I know it’s not as gruelling as working down a pit – but it was a need to see daylight."
Val revealed that she cancelled her own leaving party after finding out that her character was being killed off.
She told Soap From The Box podcast: "If any actor had said to me, 'Oh, they’ve told me my character is going to die and I was absolutely devastated,' I’d say, 'Get a grip, man!'
"Then I found out I was going to die and I was absolutely devastated! I even cancelled my leaving party!"
Charlie opened up about her Coeliac disease diagnosis in 2018.
"That was a big shock. I got very poorly in the summer and they didn’t know what was wrong with me and neither did I," she told the Express.
"I thought it was just an allergy to bread and bizarrely it is an auto-immune disease," she admitted, adding: "I had absolutely no idea and I’ve been very unsympathetic in the past and I’ve learned my lesson now. Gluten to a coeliac is deadly poison."
Coeliac disease is a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten.
This damages your gut so you are unable to take in nutrients. Coeliac disease can cause a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.
Emmerdale fans were regularly left in hysterics by Val and on-screen hubby Eric Pollard's antics.
However, off-screen the co-stars still remain good friends.
The duo appeared Newcastle Cathedral’s Christmas concert for Teenage Cancer Trust in 2014, singing a duet of a "winter classic".
In 2019, Charlie said: "I’m still in touch with my widowed husband Chris Chittell.
"We’re good friends. I’m near my friends so I can hang out with them."
Charlie's on-screen sister Diane, played by Elizabeth Estensen, has also recalled the happy times they shared working together.
"The mirror maze in Val’s exit storyline was so clever," she told Digital Spy.
"Sadly it was the last time Charlie and I filmed together. Sadly Val remains dead but gosh it was fun days I had working with Charlie."
The telly favourite returned for two episodes in 2017 as Val's ghost, after making Eric a touching video detailing her funeral plans and belting out an emotional rendition of My Way.
She also made a comeback when Robert Sugden's dream that same year.
In 2018, Charlie admitted she would return to the ITV soap, if the opportunity ever presented itself.
She told HELLO!: "If you pitch the story, I would be there in a shot."
"I kind of thought at the end of Emmerdale that my dance was done, but no, that little bit came back when I was on Emmerdale last Christmas."
ROLES AFTER EMMERDALE
Charlie landed her first major role since Emmerdale in Channel 4 comedy Ackley Bridge in 2019.
She played Sue Carp, the belligerent and unwilling new Director of Behaviour.
She was amongst a new influx of staff, employed by The Valley Trust who have been transferred to Ackley Bridge, in the hope that they will resign from their jobs.
The actress' role was on the show until her exit earlier this year.
She has also appeared in The Accidental Medium, Different For Girls, Byker Grove and Newcastle’s Theatre Royal pantomime Dick Whittington back in 2015.
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