Emmerdale’s Samantha Giles says she wears a wig onscreen after return as Bernice

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There'll be drama aplenty in Emmerdale as Bernice Blackstock struts back into the village – just as her ex-fiance Liam has got engaged to his new love Leyla!

“As far as Bernice is concerned, he should be falling at her feet,” says actress Samantha Giles. “She can’t believe he’s getting married to Leyla – how dare he?”

Samantha – who found fame as Bernice back in 1998 – is delighted to be back on the show, as Bernice stirs up trouble between the soon-to-be-newlyweds in the Yorkshire Dales.

But after being offscreen since the end of 2019, the flame-haired star told OK! that there have been a few recent changes that she's struggling with….

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed on the Emmerdale set since you left prior to the pandemic?

My hair and make-up. Due to social distancing, we’ve had to do it all ourselves. It’s a nightmare! I can just about do my make-up, but I’m no good with my hair, it’s so frizzy. Bernice is a hairdresser and always has a coiffed look. So the wardrobe team gave me a wig – but I still have to style it. I know I sound precious, but when you’ve got an emotional scene to do, you don’t want to be fannying about checking your blusher or your hair. On the flip side, it must be very frustrating for the hair and make-up teams, who are probably desperate to get their hands on us.

How did it feel going from lockdown loungewear to high heels and false nails, Bernice-style?

Well, it’s nice to do it as somebody else! It feels very natural for Bernice to be in nice dresses and heels. I mean, I would never dress like that – it would be weird. But on set, I’m running down the streets in the village in great big high heels, and it feels normal. It doesn’t feel like I ever left, especially as the world feels like it’s been on pause for the last year.

But it sounds like you’ve had your busiest year ever while away from the soap…

I’ve actually done more things than I ever thought possible. Aside from homeschooling my two daughters – Evelyn, 13 and Olivia, nine – I’ve written three children’s books. Rosemary And The Witches Of Pendle Hill is already out, and the second, Rosemary And The Book Of The Dead , is out in October, with the third to come. I love being busy. It also helped me find a routine, which I needed. I had some really dark days. Your mental health is very fragile during these difficult times, so I did everything I could to help myself, which included routine, being creative, exercise… and yes, baking banana bread like everyone else.

You sound like a lockdown high achiever!

No, not at all. Look, I’m like anyone else – I see a lot of this announcement culture on social media and I get very affected by it. When I’m out of work, I see posts like, “I’ve just got the job,” and I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I’ve done nothing, I can’t do this or that.” But the truth is, it’s all about how you sell yourself. And the reality is most people are faking it. I find it very difficult to deal with as I have very high expectations of myself.

Do you have any regrets?

Not really. There are things that I wish I’d done differently, but then certain things wouldn’t have happened, like meeting my husband.

I wish I’d been more fearless during my university years. I should have taken the opportunity to live in France. I never had the confidence, which probably sounds ridiculous considering the job I do. I recognise the same trait in my eldest daughter. I’m always telling her to not be scared and grab opportunities.

Is it true you created a love spell to find your husband of 11 years, Sean Pritchard?

Yes. I’d come out of a disastrous relationship and I didn’t want to be messing about with any waste-of-space boyfriends. I used pagan witchcraft and wrote down exactly what I was after and used candles and crystals. I sell love spells, crystals, stress busters and all sorts online [thesamanthagiles.co.uk].

Are you looking forward to turning 50 in July?

No, not really. I’m just going to get on with it. I’m not someone who’s about to have a load of work done to my face or body.

Do you worry about ageing?

I’m always aware of my weight and looks because of the job I do. Us women don’t have it easy, do we? It’s important we look after our health as we get older. I had a terrible two-year period in my early forties where I suffered from debilitating urinary infections. It was so depressing. I was working, a mum to two young girls and a wife, but I didn’t know if I could carry on. I’d be frightened to have sex or a glass of wine, in case it triggered it. Eventually a urologist suggested drinking two litres of water a day and it miraculously worked. But while I was suffering, I honestly thought I was never going to be able to have a normal life again.

How do you relax?

Writing my children’s books relaxes me, as it gives me a feeling of control. In my working acting life, I have no control whatsoever, it’s all down to what’s offered to me. Although the writing experience is quite isolating, it did give me an opportunity to make some creative decisions, which felt nice. I also practise Reiki, which has been really useful this last year.

What’s a life lesson you’ve learnt?

To be patient. My personality type is the opposite – I want things to happen immediately and be a success. The reality is, things take time. I’d love to be the next JK Rowling, but these things don’t happen overnight.

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