Emmerdale have surprised fans with the return of a beloved character, over a year after she departed the soap.
Fan favourite Vanessa Woodfield returned to the show at the end of Friday night’s episode, to help her best friend, Rhona.
Michelle Hardwick, 47, who plays Vanessa, has been away from the soap for 14 months after she and her wife Kate Brooks, 40, had a daughter, Betty in November 2022.
Vanessa left the Yorkshire Dales with her son Johnny, for a dream job in Canada after she split from her girlfriend Suzy Merton, who is played by Martelle Edinborough.
Yet whilst she was away, Rhona became embroiled in a horrific custody battle with her ex-husband Gus Malcolms and their daughter Ivy.
Fan favourite Vanessa Woodfield returned to Emmerdale at the end of Friday nights episode, to help her best friend, Rhona
This week saw Charity Dingle urge Rhona to fight for her daughter, inspired by her own regrets with son Ryan, as Gus threatened to relocate Ivy to France.
In shocking scenes during Friday night’s episode, Rhona decided to listen to Charity’s advice and flee her family home with Ivy, seeking sanctuary in a secluded cottage instead.
Despite tensions building and the threat of police involvement looming, Rhona continued to ignore her husband Marlon and mother Mary’s phone calls.
However, in an unexpected twist, Vanessa – who had a stormy relationship for three years with Charity Dingle – knocks on her door accompanied by her son Johnny.
Speaking of Vanessa’s anguish upon her comeback, Michelle told Metro: ‘She had no idea that she’d run off with the baby and essentially kidnap the child.’
She added: ‘It’s a massive shock to Vanessa because first of all she’s thinking ‘what the heck are you [Rhona] doing?.
‘There’s all blind panic going through her because she’s like ‘hang on, I’m here now, am I an accomplice? Am I gonna get done as well? What’s gonna happen to Johnny?’
Rhona who is going through a custody battle is hiding away with her daughter Ivy in a secluded cottage and ignoring the threat of the outside world
Vet Vanessa left the Yorkshire Dales with her son Johnny, for a dream job in Canada has been away for 14 months
Away from the soap, Michelle married producer Kate at Elvis’ home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee in 2019
Michelle married wife Kate back in 2019, after the pair met on the soap – which Kate is a producer on.
They share two-year-old son Teddy, who was born in October 2020 and daughter Betty, who was born in 2022.
Michelle, who previously starred in Heartbeat spin-off The Royal, came out publicly in 2013.