Gritty roles are the way for Faye ; Gaynor Faye has stuck close to her northern roots with parts in Corrie, Fat Friends and now Emmerdale. The actress tells Sophie Herdman why she's pleased to be part of the current sibling domestic violence plot
NEXT year's series of Dancing On Ice will be the last, but Gaynor Faye will always be the show's first ever winner - and nothing can take that away. "I broke the trophy week one of having it," the actress reveals, breaking into giggles.
She and her skating partner Daniel Whiston beat hotly-tipped rivals Stefan Booth and Bonnie Langford to become the first ever king and queen of the ice back in 2006.
To mark the show's grand finale next year, an all-star special featuring a selection of the best skaters from the last eight years is planned, but sadly Faye won't be slipping back into her shimmery tights and sequinned lycra to take part - she's just too busy.
"It would have been lovely to be a part of it in some way, because it was such a wonderful journey for me," she says, though she notes that there are benefits to not making a comeback.
"I could have gone into this last series and made a complete fool of myself ! Then that's what people would remember," says the 42- year-old. "I want to be remembered as the first ever winner, the first queen of the ice."
Keeping Faye so busy is Emmerdale. She's played ambitious Megan Macey in the soap since early 2012, and right now her character's in the middle of a dramatic storyline. Megan is businessman Declan's half-sister and came to Home Farm to help him restore the business. But their relationship has grown strained, and it gets worse when Declan physically lashes out at his sister.
"It's fantastic to highlight domestic violence within siblings," says Faye, who has clearly done her research in preparation for this storyline.
"Domestic violence between brothers and sisters happens quite frequently, especially when they're younger," she points out.
Being one of Emmerdale's strong women, Faye notes, Megan is not someone viewers might expect to be abused. "But that's how domestic violence can show itself, with women and men you never think would stand for that behaviour."
Filming scenes like this is never easy, but it was Jason Merrells, who plays Declan, who really struggled.
"He is so lovely and he hated doing it. It made him feel so ugly," says Faye. "He gave me a hug afterwards and said sorry, but I told him not to worry. As long as it looks right and we are serving domestic violence sufferers, it's fine." Emmerdale producers decided to bring in a stuntwoman to film the scene, a decision that didn't impress Faye.
"I don't understand why. I've don't lots of my own stuff. I recently did something bigger and I've got a massive bruise on my bottom and arm," she says.
With the incident over, Megan finds herself unable to escape her brother, who she lives and works with.
"A lot of domestic violence victims are trapped. Where do they go, what do they do, who do they turn to? Sometimes they just put up with it," says Faye.
"I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would, but I haven't been in that situation. I understand that some people have nowhere to go, and they feel guilty, like they are in some way responsible for it."
Luckily for Megan, she's offered a lifeline in the form of a job with businessman Gil, played by David Easter, who she's recently been flirting with. Faye's hoping that this will mark the start of a romance for Megan, who hasn't had much luck in love.
"I don't want to soften Megan up though, I want to keep her nasty side," she adds.
The actress has spent a lot of her life surrounded by go-getting females.
Her mother, Kay Mellor, is a scriptwriter well known for writing interesting female characters. She created shows like Band Of Gold, about a group of women from Bradford's red light district; A Passionate Woman, which told the story of her own mother, and, more recently, lottery drama The Syndicate, which features a number of independent ladies.
Faye's appeared in many of her mother's shows, including Fat Friends, Between The Sheets and Playing The Field, as well as The Chase, which the pair co-wrote.
The Leeds-born actress says she has no plans right now to move on from Emmerdale. "I came into it very open-minded. At the start, the producer said Megan could be there for one, 10 or 20 years," says Faye, who appeared in Coronation Street as Judy Mallett during the late Nineties. "But I'm very happy there, especially as a Yorkshire girl."
At the time of our interview - early November - the Emmerdale gang are filming Christmas episodes.
"It's quite strange, but we've got lots of chocolates around which is very nice," says Faye, who says she loves the festive season.
"I have lots of memories of being at home, having bacon sandwiches and champagne for breakfast, being in the living room and opening presents."
Last year she spent December 25 in Bethlehem.
"We swam in the Dead Sea on Christmas morning, then we went to Bethlehem and Jerusalem - that was pretty spectacular."
Then there was the year she went to Montego Bay in Jamaica.
"It was a beautiful day and we sat on the beach drinking margaritas, it was just amazing," she recalls.
But, home or away, the most important thing about the festivities is always the same for the actress. "Every Christmas is amazing for me," says Faye, "because I spend it with my family." Emmerdale continues on ITV on weeknights.
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