What was your first day on set like/ who was in your first scene?
I was with Bhasker Patel who plays Rishi, it was the first time I’d seen him since the screen test audition so I was really nervous. It was the start of the Manpreet and Rishi love affair which people have likened to Taylor and Burton! The story goes that Rishi turned up to his well man check expecting to find Doctor Liam in the surgery but instead he found the woman of his dreams and the rest is history. We played the comedy and the embarrassment of the situation to great effect and it really settled my nerves.
How long was your original contract for?
Has being in Emmerdale changed your life? Of course it has, not least because it gives me an opportunity to wear some fantastic dresses on a red carpet every so often! Every job has the potential to change your life in acting, it’s a very transitory existence, it’s very nomadic, I could be working abroad one minute for two months and then in a studio doing an advert for a couple of days or doing theatre with different companies but being a regular in Emmerdale has given me the opportunity to set down some roots, professionally speaking and it’s given me some stability which is hard to come by in this profession.
Manpreet was part of the Sharma family for a long time, do you miss being part of that group?
Once a Sharma, always a Sharma! It’s where I started and where Manpreet started with Rishi and the family so there’s a shared connection and history there and we’re all very good friends outside of work as well. I think if I was ever to return to the fold I’d be welcomed with open arms.
Were you excited to hear that the new characters of Charles and Ethan would bring a backstory for Manpreet?
When I heard Kevin and Emile would be joining the cast, I was very excited but also quite nervous because I knew that would throw focus on Manpreet. I saw it as an opportunity to flesh out the character and explore her backstory which makes her more interesting, layers her up and gives her a lot more to do and say and gives the audience more of an insight into her character. Because Charles is her love interest, I was very excited about that but my husband was less excited about that! I love working with Kevin and Emile, we have such fun together and I’m forever giving Kevin notes which he makes fun of me for. I do think about scenes afterwards and get slightly obsessed and I call up Kevin to ask how he thinks it went, he does put up with a lot from me!
How does Emmerdale compare to the other soaps you starred in?
We’ve got a very strong, approachable management and a very talented cast and the village provides such an idyllic setting as the backdrop for all the stories, it’s like the village is another character in itself so we’re very lucky.
Manpreet is a GP. Have you learnt any medical terminology or procedures?
My father is a GP and my mother is a children’s nurse so although I was terrible at science and there was no chance I would be going into medicine, I am aware of that world. When I first started I did ask my dad how to do a blood pressure check and urine samples and things like that, just in case! I think I’ve managed to convince people that I know what I’m doing over the years!
Your character was in last year’s ‘survival week’ which included some amazing stunts, what are your memories of filming?
Survival week was epic! I was excited and nervous in equal measure about being involved so heavily. I have strong memories of being soaked to the bone, drenched, dirty and wet for most of it! it was amazing, we went to some fantastic locations in north Yorkshire, which I’ve since taken my children back to. I went abseiling, I threw myself into the white water rapids, it was something totally out of my comfort zone and I absolutely loved it and it was with a fantastic bunch of people. It felt like we were creating our own little drama and something really quite special which as an actor is all you want really.
Do you have any funny memories from filming over the years?
Most of them involve Bhasker! One time we were in the village, on the high street and there was a showdown between Manpreet, Charles, Ethan and Rishi, it’s the time Rishi finds out that his wife isn’t quite the woman he thought she was and discovers her past relationship with Charles and Ethan. It was very heightened, highly charged and emotional and Bhasker was holding a car key in his hand and during one of my moving, tearful monologues, he accidently clicked the unlock button on the car and it kept going off again and again. It made me laugh so much. Cue Ethan getting angry for Manpreet leaving him and it happens again!
The Meena serial killer storyline has been one of the biggest in the last few years – was it fun to be part of?
What can I say! It was awesome to be part of, every week I would receive a script and read it avidly and think what else could possibly happen. Each week that would happen and the story would be trumped each time with its outlandishness. I love how Emmerdale was fearless in that respect, it threw everything at it and the writers and the producers went with it. Paige being who she is, lived up to the story and the spic nature of it and I just went along for the ride and it was fantastic and something I’ll never forget and I’ve made a lifelong friend in Paige.
Favourite Emmerdale storyline not been involved in?
I really enjoyed the Big Night Out because it was full of beautiful people, it was young, sexy and vibrant. It was stylish, it just had everything. It blew open the Maya and Jacob story which was huge. It had assault, betrayal, affairs and some dodgy disco dancing! It was very stylishly done, I don’t know if Manpreet would have fitted in!
Emmerdale airs on weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV.