Laurel Thomas

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Laurel Potts
Laurel Thomas.jpg
Emmerdale character
Portrayed byCharlotte Bellamy
Introduced bySteve Frost
Duration2002–
First appearance3 September 2002
ClassificationPresent; regular
Profile
Date of birth31 May 1974[1]
HomeTall Trees cottage
OccupationEntertainer
Cleaner (2002–09)
Factory worker (2010–)
 
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Laurel Potts
Laurel Thomas.jpg
Emmerdale character
Portrayed byCharlotte Bellamy
Introduced bySteve Frost
Duration2002–
First appearance3 September 2002
ClassificationPresent; regular
Profile
Date of birth31 May 1974[1]
HomeTall Trees cottage
OccupationEntertainer
Cleaner (2002–09)
Factory worker (2010–)

Laurel Potts (previously Thomas) is a fictional character in the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Charlotte Bellamy. She debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 3 September 2002. Laurel has been off-screen at various times while Bellamy has taken maternity leave.

Contents

Casting[edit]

In 2004, Bellamy announced she was pregnant with her first child. Laurel was briefly written out while she took maternity leave. Bellamy did not have to hide her pregnancy while filming.[2] In 2006, Bellamy announced her second pregnancy and took maternity leave in 2007. Her pregnancy was written into Laurel's storylines.[3] In 2009, Bellamy announced her final pregnancy to date, which saw Laurel written out of the serial again for a number of months.[4]

Character development[edit]

Characterisation[edit]

Lovely Laurel is not your typical vicar's wife but is very supportive of her husband Ashley. She's well known in the village for her quirky fashion sense. She's very determined and even though a lot of bad things have happened to her she still remains a happy, positive woman who enjoys hanging out with her mates, especially Nicola.

itv.com on Laurel.[5]

Bellamy said Laurel is not your "typical vicar's wife" because she acts "a bit daft and scatty". Bellamy said the best thing about Laurel is her drunken scenes.[5] As Laurel is married to a vicar, she has to always be seen to act "nice, sweet and kind". There are no limits to Laurel when she drinks and "she really lets her hair down." Laurel's best friend is Nicola Blackstock (Nicola Wheeler). Bellamy said she is "a bit horrible to her" but Laurel really loves her.[5]

While interviewed by the Sunday Mail, Bellamy said Laurel's likeability is her "kind-hearted and unassuming" persona. However, Laurel is not afraid to speak her mind but would never "intentionally hurt someone".[6] Laurel is often the serial's source for light comic relief. Bellamy opined that it played an important role in Emmerdale's success.[6] Laurel has many different elements. She is funny and makes people laugh. Having an "emotional soul" means she has the capacity to be very loving. These personality traits have made the role enjoyable for Bellamy to portray.[7] Bellamy later said "Laurel's a simple soul with a good heart and she deserves to be really happy."[8]

Relationship with Ashley Thomas[edit]

"They are the mismatched couple who have raised many of Emmerdale's laughs as viewers have followed their rocky road to romance."[9]

—Laura Davidson of the Sunday Mail on Laurel and Ashley. (2008)

Laurel's first relationship develops when she falls in love with Ashley Thomas (John Middleton). He is initially oblivious to her feelings, though later develops feelings for her too.[6] When Ashley proposes to Laurel, she tells him to wait until she returns from volunteer work in Tanzania. Bellamy said it proved Laurel had progressed into "her own woman" and became more confident. She hoped Laurel would marry Ashley because it has been "all she's ever wanted in life." She added that Laurel deserved a happy ending, but highlighted the fact nothing is ever straightforward in Laurel's life.[6] Middleton said that Laurel and Ashley are well suited to one another, branding her as Ashley's soul mate.[10]

Upon Laurel's return, scriptwriters decided to complicate the storyline by introducing obstacles in their pursuit of marriage. One of these was using curate Ethan Blake (Liam O'Brien) to attempt to ruin their relationship. The next was the funeral of Laurel's surrogate grandfather Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards). Though Laurel decides to "live life to the full" and marry Ashley.[7] Instead of having her own wedding dress, she wears a dress belonging to Betty Eagleton (Paula Tilbrook). Like Seth, Betty has been written and portrayed as a grandparent figure for Laurel. Bellamy said it was probably for the best because Laurel is "not exactly understated in her dress sense." She also said she was glad to see her character get the happy ending due to the many "ups and downs" she has been forced to endure. Bellamy opined that Laurel would want children next and called her a good potential mother figure.[7]

The serial later began scripting marital problems for the pair. Laurel helps Ashley's niece Jasmine Thomas (Jenna-Louise Coleman) with her sexuality issues. Laurel agrees to keep it a secret from Ashley. Coleman said Laurel acts like a mother figure for Jasmine.[11] Jasmine later has an affair with Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) and Laurel hides this from Ashley too. Ashley is furious with Laurel when he learns the truth, Middleton predicted it would have a bad effect on their marriage. He said "Ashley really does love Laurel, although he feels really let down by her at the moment."[12]

In late 2006, Laurel discovers that she is pregnant. Bellamy was not required to wear any padding to make the pregnancy appear legitimate, as she was pregnant off-screen.[13] Bellamy said it was a surprise that they both fell pregnant at the same time and "you couldn't make it up".[8] Laurel was temporarily written out of the serial while Bellamy took her maternity leave.[3] When Bellamy returned to filming she had lost her baby weight. She said it was strange to then have to wear "a massive fake bump" and be pregnant again.[8] Upon Laurel's return she gives birth. Middleton told the Daily Record that the birth is typical "Laurel and Ashley - it's absolute chaos". After becoming stranded at the church she arrives to a maternity ward that is over capacity.[10] Bellamy added "It wouldn't have been believable if Laurel had just given birth normally. Nothing normal happens to her - she's a bit off the wall."[8] Middleton that the scenes were enjoyable to film and a midwife was on hand to make the scenes realistic. Laurel gives birth to a boy, Daniel, Middleton said they were "thrilled" to have a child of their own together.[10]

Storylines[edit]

Laurel finds Daniel not breathing in 2008.

Laurel arrives at Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) and Tricia Stokes’ (Sheree Murphy) engagement party, dressed as a bumblebee. She collapses halfway through her act and is to be rushed to hospital. Laurel is then moves in with pensioners Betty and Seth. Laurel later develops feelings for Ashley. Though Ashley likes Laurel, he does not feel the same about her. Laurel starts a career in cleaning and manages to secure many village residents on her books. She becomes best friends with Nicola Blackstock (Nicola Wheeler), who also becomes her business partner. Ashley and Louise Appleton (Emily Symons) are involved in a car accident following a storm. Laurel decides to look after Ashley while he recovers. The pair become close and Ashley develops feelings for her and they start dating. Laurel decides to carry out volunteer work in Tanzania. Ashley fails to stop her with a proposal of marriage.

When Laurel returns she agrees to marry Ashley. They face problems when Bishop George Postlethwaite (Peter Cartwright), refuses them permission to marry. He makes it clear Ashley's love life has put his position in question. Ashley quits his job but realises he cannot cope without the church. Laurel tells Ashley she will wait to marry him. Curate Ethan becomes Laurel's confidant but falls in love with her. He makes advances on Laurel, but she rebukes his attentions. Ethan tells George they had kissed. When George discovers Ethan has lied, he gives Laurel and Ashley his blessing and carries out their wedding ceremony. Laurel helps Ashley reconnect with his estranged father Sandy Thomas (Freddie Jones). When Nicola leaves their village she struggles with the workload combined with new found parish duties. She sells her business to David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden). Laurel clashes with Ashley's niece Jasmine. They eventually bond after a difficult start. However, Laurel is upset when Jasmine's friends Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) and Daz Hopwood (Luke Tittensor) accidentally set fire to the vicarage, seeing her lose everything.

Laurel later discovers that she is pregnant. Laurel's parents Douglas (Duncan Preston) and Hilary Potts (Paula Wilcox) visit her and end up in a car accident. Laurel decides to look after them. Upon her return she goes into labour whilst locked in the village church, with only Shadrach Dingle (Andy Devine) for help. Shadrach rings the church bell to attract any attention from passers by. When she gives birth to a boy named Daniel in hospital, she meets Melanie Doland (Caroline Strong), who also have a baby boy. Laurel finds Daniel dead in his cot. Laurel is distraught and lashes out at those closest to her. She moves in with Betty so she doesn't have to see Ashley and later kisses Greg. Ashamed, she returns home to Ashley. Hilary begins to suspect that Authur Doland is Laurel's child and sets out to prove there was a mix up at the hospital. Laurel feels like she is betraying Daniel and refuses to believe it. Ashley starts a custody battle and Mel attempts to run away with Authur, but returns him. Ashley tells Laurel he will leave her and raise him alone if she does not attend the custody hearing. When they win, she finds it hard to bond with the child and her marriage suffers as a result. Laurel fears he has died when he suffers a cold and takes him to hospital and realises she has to accept him.

Charlotte Bellamy (pictured) believes that Laurel's likeability is her "kind-hearted and unassuming" persona.

George announces that the church faces closure due to low attendance. Laurel and Nicola attempt to save the church by carrying out various charity events. David later reveals that Nicola was in on the plan to buy the church, which ends her friendship, though they later make peace. Laurel barricades herself in the church to stop its closure. However, Natasha Wylde (Amanda Donohoe) reveals she has brought it and donates it back to the community. This allows Laurel and Ashley to stay in the village. Jasmine admits to murdering Shane Doyle (Paul McEwan), Laurel tries to get her to confess as it was self-defence. However Jasmine goes on the run, with Debbie left taking the blame. Laurel goes to the police to make a statement about Jasmine, however they charge her with perverting the course of justice. She is later given forty hours of community service.

Ashley comes back into contact with old enemy Vincent (Antony Byrne) and Sally Spode (Siân Reeves). Sally starts visiting them more claiming to need support. Laurel makes an effort as she previously dated Ashley. Though Sally leaves Vincent and moves into the vicarage. Laurel tries to get her to go home and Sally causes trouble for Laurel. Vincent becomes angry with Sally for leaving, who pretends to be victimised. Laurel later grows tired of Sally's reluctance to find somewhere else to live. Laurel becomes angry with Sally for attempting to take over her role in her domestic life.

Sally locks Laurel in the church having caused a fire. Sally pretends to be concerned and alerts villagers. Laurel survives and realises Sally could be behind the fire and tries to stop Sally from looking after her children. Sally later tries to suffocate Laurel. Laurel informs Ashley that she suspects Sally was behind the fire, though he refuses to believe her and calls her a councillor. Laurel leaves Ashley for not believing her and takes the children to live with Hilary Potts (Paula Wilcox). Sally is delighted to have Ashley to herself, though after a while he realises Laurel was telling the truth. When Laurel returns she agrees to move back in their home. Though, she makes it clear their marriage will take time to repair. Laurel tracks Sally down to a block of flats. She finds a shrine of Ashley inside and Sally claims to be pregnant with his child. Laurel attacks Sally and dangles her over the flat balcony. Laurel sees sense and pulls her back over, which results in Sally being arrested.

Laurel refuses to go on strike over Nikhil Sharma (Rik Makarem) while all the other factory girls do. She is later annoyed to find out Charity Tate (Emma Atkins) set Nikhil up. Laurel becomes annoyed with the atmosphere between Ashley and Sandy. She spends more time out the house and with Marlon. They share an emotional moment, though when Marlon becomes close to Rachel Breckle (Gemma Oaten), Laurel becomes jealous and realises she has feelings for Marlon.

Reception[edit]

Laura Davidson of the Sunday Mail described Laurel as one of Emmerdale's most popular characters, citing "dippy and loveable Laurel" as a firm favourite. She opined Laurel remained true to her "unpredictable" nature when she left Ashley without an answer to his proposal. Though said "teary-eyed viewers" thought she would have said yes "faster than you can say 'white wedding'."[6] Davidson later opined that the "dippy cleaner makes a truly beautiful bride." She added that an army of fans cheered when the "scatterbrain character finally tied the knot with her dream man."[7] Jane Simon of the Daily Mirror said Emmerdale had some "fabulously random pairings" and such as the "unlikely" love-trinagle with Laurel, Kelly and Ethan could be titled "The Cleaning Lady, the Scrubber and the Dirty Little Liar."[14]

Dek Hogan writing for Digital Spy said Emmerdale had done a good job tackling the issue of cot death. He noted that while Laurel has often been used for comic relief, Bellamy proved to be outstanding in the "moving storyline". He also branded the episode as a "tear-jerker".[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Laurel Thomas". STV. (STV Group plc). 4 March 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Simon, Jane (4 August 2004). "I found out that I was pregnant in the loo at Topshop; Emmerdale star on her shocking discovery". Daily Mirror. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Green, Kris (3 November 2006). "'Emmerdale' actress expecting second child". Digital Spy. (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Green, Kris (28 May 2009). "Dales actress announces third pregnancy". Digital Spy. (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Laurel Thomas - Charlotte Bellamy". itv.com. (ITV plc). Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Davidson, Laura (30 January 2005). "Cover Story: I won't rest on Laurels when it comes to big white wedding.". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d Davidson, Laura (30 October 2005). "It's Laurel's dream day..but I'm glad she didn't design a dress; Charlotte Bellamy on the long-awaited Emmerdale nuptials". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Davidson, Laura (26 August 2007). "The interview: Laurel's in for scary delivery; Emmerdales' Charlotte Bellamy reveals Rev's wife has a tense labour". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Davidson, Laura (17 February 2008). "Dale vicar in hell as baby Dan dies; The big interview Soap star John reveals playing a grieving father left him shattered in real life". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c "Ashley gets revved up over a baby son; The reverend's life is thrown into chaos with the arrival of a child by sexy Laurel". Daily Record. (Trinity Mirror). 25 August 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Davidson, Laura (21 May 2006). "It wasn't easy telling my mum I was going to be a lesbian on TV". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Davidson, Laura (2 July 2006). "I thought about becoming a priest but girls put paid to that; Emmerdale star John is more of an action man than mild vicar.". Sunday Mail. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  13. ^ Laws, Roz (3 December 2006). "TV & Soaps: Emmerdale". Sunday Mercury. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Simon, Jane (18 October 2005). "We Love Telly!: Soapwatch Emmerdale ITV1, 7pm.". Daily Mirror. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Hogan, Dek (25 February 2008). "Spare us the Cutter". Digital Spy. (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 

External links[edit]