Emmerdale’s Samantha Giles reveals she cast a spell to find her husband as she opens up on being a witch
She played ditzy man-eating beautician Bernice Blackstock for almost two decades in Emmerdale, before leaving the soap late last year. Now Samantha Giles opens up to OK! about going in search of pastures new.
Walking into our photoshoot in the heart of Manchester, Samantha looks radiant. Having hung up her apron for the very last time, she’s ditched the 5am starts and three-hour daily commutes from her Liverpool home to Leeds and is excited about the next chapter.
We saw Bernice arrive in the Dales back in 1998 where she worked as a barmaid in The Woolpack before climbing the ranks to become landlady. She left the soap in 2002, returning in 2012. Since shooting her final scenes, mother-of-two Samantha, 48, has been enjoying spending more time with her husband Sean and their two daughters, Evelyn, 11, and Olivia, nine.
Samantha is a self-proclaimed witch who says she met Sean after casting a love spell. But she’s not sure she’ll be able to use magic to snare her dream role, admitting to OK!, “I find that hard. But I feel something coming.”
Here, we chat to Samantha about that love spell, post-natal depression and her dreams after the Dales…
How was filming your final scenes?
It was very tiring. It was full on, filming all those emotional scenes. It really takes it out of you. It felt like the right time to leave. It’s scary because, as actors, regular work is the dream but I want to play other roles. You get that creative itch and I was starting to feel a bit stifled and I needed to move on. I got a bit frustrated because often when you’re playing a comedy character you’re not going to get big juicy storylines. I want to get my teeth into something.
Is Bernice gone for good?
Emmerdale very kindly left the door open for me. I wouldn’t have minded if they’d killed me off but they were lovely. They didn’t want me to leave but I got the urge. This departure is my second from the show – the first was after three years, then this stint was from 2012 to 2019. But I’m ready to move on.
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What do you miss the most?
I miss the make-up crew, that’s who you divulge your most personal stuff to. There’s no competition or agenda with them. I miss Nicola Wheeler who plays my on-screen sister, also called Nicola, Laura Norton, who plays Kerry Wyatt, and Liz Estensen who plays my mum. But there were lots of changes going on and lots of new people in the show, which is good. Soaps have to have a turnover of people to keep them fresh.
What do you not miss?
Getting up at 5am! And the M62 in the snow. In my last few weeks I had the most horrendous journeys from Liverpool to Leeds. Some were three hours each way, every day. My worst journey took eight hours!
Did you have a leaving do?
I had a dinner with my on-screen family and closest friends. I’m quite an emotional person so I didn’t want to get upset in front of them or make it a big thing.
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What would be your next dream role?
I’d love to do a gritty drama or horror, something completely different to ditzy Bernice. I love Call The Midwife and Peaky Blinders – although I used to shout at the TV about some of those Birmingham accents. If I’m watching something and the voice doesn’t sound right it drives me mad. I wonder how the actors got cast.
You did a love spell and asked the universe for the right person to come along before you met your husband, are you a witch?
Yes, and I met him three months after the spell. It’s about things being aligned. Sometimes people say to me, “I put this thought out there and it didn’t work!” But sometimes things aren’t in the right place so you have to let them go until it’s time.
Did you have many bad dates before you met your husband?
Like anyone, I kissed a lot of frogs! But without the disasters, you wouldn’t know the good ones. After the spell, I got a lovely job at the Playhouse in Liverpool, it was a great cast and Sean worked on the technical team at the theatre company.
Are you enjoying more date nights together now you’ve left Emmerdale?
We’ve always been good at date nights. Once a month we go out for dinner and talk and there are some great restaurants in Liverpool. I hate cooking! And I find washing up really dull. So it’s nice to go out. We’ve had some nights away recently – Liam Fox’s wedding was the last one, which was great! It’s our 10th wedding anniversary this August so it’ll be sod’s law that I book somewhere special for us and then get a bloody job!
You gave soap expert Sharon Marshall a ‘change your luck’ charm which she used to help her have a baby. Tell us more.
It was fantastic because she came to me for help after her seventh round of IVF. I told her to get a piece of menalite crystal and put it under her mattress or pillow. I also got her a ‘change your luck’ charm and she had a healthy pregnancy. She bought about 10 for different friends and I’m pretty sure they have all worked. I’ve done lots of spells for different people in the public eye but they’re confidential.
What’s the weirdest witch-like thing that’s happened to you?
A producer once walked into the room and suddenly looked nine months’ pregnant. I was in shock, then she sat down and didn’t look pregnant at all. I told her what had just happened and she said to me, “Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve just found out I’m three months’ pregnant.” That was weird.
Did you know the sex of your babies before giving birth?
No, but I dreamt I was having a girl with my first daughter. With my second, she had her legs crossed the whole time, she even came out with her legs crossed. She’s always been a joker and she’s always getting into mischief.
Do you call yourself a witch?
If I didn’t like someone I would definitely say I was a witch to keep them well away. I usually take an instant like or dislike to people. I can walk into a room and pick up someone’s bad energy and know to avoid them. It’s a vibe, I can’t go too close to them because they’re making me feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
Have you worked with people like that?
Yes, you have to try and imagine a white light swirling around yourself so their bad energy can’t seep in. It’s difficult to do, but you have to protect yourself. If anyone is making you feel down, it’s their energy wearing you down. They feel better afterwards but you feel awful because they’ve taken your energy.
Have your daughters ever wanted a spell?
Not yet. My eldest isn’t telling me about her feelings at the moment but I think that’s normal for an 11-year-old. She would if she was really concerned about something. If they have a tummy ache, they ask me to do reiki on them. Sometimes I’ll touch somebody and my reiki kicks in automatically and my hands will heal them.
Would you create any spells to get the right job?
I find it hard to put spells out for that, but I feel like something is coming. I don’t know what or when, but it’s coming.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve been through?
I had terrible post-natal depression with my first daughter. I had a very bad birth, I’d just come out of Hollyoaks and I felt so awful. I was desperate to go back to work. I didn’t have any of my family around, I was in Liverpool and felt very isolated. I’d never held a baby and she was so demanding. She was feeding constantly. She just never slept.
I’d take her on walks for miles and then she’d wake up as soon as I got home when all I felt like doing was collapsing. I’d be like, “Please just stay asleep for half an hour so I can have a
cup of tea or lie on the sofa, please!” She never slept and cried from 6pm to 10pm for the first 10 weeks. It felt like forever. Women go back to work for a rest. There is nothing more challenging than looking after babies or children.
Did you want another baby after such a bad experience?
I waited two years to have another. I didn’t expect to get pregnant as soon, but she was like a lucky charm. I was asked to go back to Emmerdale when I was pregnant with her and I took another job the week I was due. I went back to work six weeks after the birth because she was so easy. I remember seeing a photo of me behind the bar and my boobs looked ginormous. I’m glad I don’t have large breasts because men seemed to look at only them.
Are you a positive person?
Yes, but I’m also a bit of a loner, and when I’m on my own, I often only see the negative. I have to be aware of that. On the crap
days, when you’re worrying when your next job will be, you have to remember it can all change in one phone call.
Do you think it’s important to speak up if you’re feeling low?
If you’re a private person it’s hard to say you’re depressed. I admire Denise Welch for posting on Twitter if she’s having a bad day because if I’m having a really crap day, I don’t want to tell anybody. I understand its good to talk and to treat it like any illness but some people find it difficult to share.
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Could you see a career in spirituality?
I have a spell page on Facebook, Samantha’s Spells, and I wrote a blog which I could go back to, but I love acting. I love spirituality and writing children’s story books but they’re sidelines. I’ve got a literary agent so if my first book doesn’t get picked up then I’m hoping my second will. I can see a film as I write it, it’s just getting someone to take a chance and give you a publishing deal.
So you could be the next JK Rowling?
Well, she had a lot of rejections apparently!
Would you do I’m A Celebrity or Strictly?
I wouldn’t do I’m A Celeb, but I’d do Strictly because you’re learning something. I’m 48 now and it’s so hard to keep the weight down.
I could easily turn into a chunky monkey. I’ve had to really up my exercise. I’m always trying to lose half a stone but I’ve stopped weighing myself now. I’m giving up biscuits and chocolate for Lent.
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