Charlie Hardwick as Val Pollard (2010)
|Portrayed by||Charlie Hardwick|
|First appearance||1 February 2004|
|Introduced by||Steve Frost|
Pub landlady (2006–09)
Valerie "Val" Pollard (née Lambert) is a fictional character in the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale. She is played by Charlie Hardwick. She first appeared on the show on 1 February 2004. In December 2011, it was announced Hardwick would be taking a three-month break from Emmerdale to appear in a play, and the character left on 10 February 2012. Val returned in June 2012, but is surprised to see that husband Eric (Chris Chittell) has moved on and is in a relationship with Brenda Walker (Lesley Dunlop). She moves into her sister's pub, after her marriage breakdown helping run it since Diane Sugden (Elizabeth Estensen) is away visiting her daughter. In 2014, Val is told that she is HIV positive after a holiday fling while she was in Portugal. Her husband Eric, however, is negative.
Hardwick joined the cast of Emmerdale as Val Lambert in early 2004. Val was introduced as the sister of established character, Diane Blackstock (Elizabeth Estensen). Hardwick initially signed a six-month contract with the show. Speaking of her casting, Hardwick told Gordon Barr of the Evening Chronicle "I've been a massive fan of Emmerdale since day one. In fact, I watch all the soaps so to now be in it truly is a dream come true. And what a character. Let's just say she has the potential to get more flamboyant."
Discussing Val, on Rodney and Diane, Hardwick said "Val's first thought is 'aye aye, he's trying to get into the back room'! [Laughs] You know what I mean! Then Val thinks that he's trying to get into Diane's heart, before thinking that Rodney wants Val out of the pub. That's the killer. She thinks he's a dirty dog. Then when she sees Diane give Rodney a kiss on the cheek, she immediately thinks that there's trouble afoot. Val knows Rodney - she's been there, done it, had the child and been the babysitter. And when Val originally turned up in Emmerdale, she went back to drink from the same pool, so she definitely knows what he's like."
Also discussing if Val is jealous she also said "Whenever Val's getting attention and she isn't, there's some kind of jealousy! But on this occasion, though, Val just thinks, 'he's not getting my pub'. Consciously, she's worried about Diane but subconsciously, she's only ever totally concerned about herself. I've said this before, but I wrote a list of quintessential characteristics of Val on a post-it note when I first arrived at Emmerdale and I keep them in my script file. She's glamour and sex, she always tells the truth - even when she's lying - and everything she does, she does for Val." 
It was reported that Hardwick would take a three-month break from the show to appear in a stage production called, The Awkward Squad set in the North East. Hardwick also confirmed on ITV's daytime program, This Morning that two different exit scenes had been filmed and she did not know which version would be eventually broadcast. "I don't know which one they've used. The director said, 'I'll decide which one is best in the edit". Hardwick also expressed her deep concern that she could potentially write herself out of the show, “It’s a risk. I’m going out to do a play, and I might write myself out.”
Val arrives in Emmerdale in February 2004, surprising her sister, Diane. Their relationship has always been difficult as Diane had helped bring Val up after their mother died.
Upon her arrival, Val has a black eye, which she had tells Diane is her ex-boyfriend, Eugene's, fault. When Eugene Brown (John Axon) arrives, he reveals that Val persuaded him to pay for her nose job before fleeing. Always on the lookout for the next man to fund her lifestyle, Val is delighted to find her ex-brother-in-law, Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower) living in Emmerdale and is now a millionaire. They soon begin a relationship and Val works with Diane in the pub. Val, never happy with just one man and cheats on Rodney with his much younger employee Danny Daggert (Cleveland Campbell). She eventually chooses Rodney, believing him to be the better long term choice. However, when Diane is diagnosed with colon cancer, Rodney is devastated and realizes that he is still in love with her. Diane rejects him but he ends his relationship with Val. Furious and rejected, Val goes to Italy to visit her son Paul's (Matthew Bose) and his partner, Enzo Biannchi (Daniel D'Alessandro), returning for Diane’s wedding to local farmer Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) with a man half her age but this is quickly revealed to be a lie.
Furious at being rejected by Diane and Rodney, Val reveals that she and Rodney had had an affair while he was married to Diane and that Rodney is the father of her son, Paul. Horrified by her actions, Val is disowned by everyone close to her but believes that she could turn it around. Following this, she becomes close to Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell) and they go into partnership. Together they launche a fabrics company and Eric tries to restart his career in politics. Eric loves Val but his selfishness affects the relationship and he blames her for standing in the way of his political career. Val's ex-boyfriend Jimmy Pepper (Michael Gunn) turns up and he is horrified to find Paul, who he had raised as his own, is not his and demands that Val repay him the maintenance he paid her and threatens to beat Paul up again unless Val pays him. In order to raise the money, Val starts stealing and fakes robbery at the pub but is caught and Diane calls the police. Val is sentenced to community service and is forced to help local pensioner Noreen Bell (Jenny Tomasin). At first, Val hates Noreen but the two women become friends, joining forces to oppose Eric when he stands for council again. Val and Eric reunite and Val herself schemes to be rich and invests money in Pearl Ladderbanks’ (Meg Johnson) Internet Investment Scheme, unaware it is a con. When the truth comes out, Val is livid and Pearl leaves the village for a while. When Noreen is killed in the Kings River Showhome explosion, she leaves her money to Val and she buys half the Woolpack.
Val starts having problems with her eyes and accidentally knocks down Samson Dingle while driving. Eric later proposes and Val accepts and they marry. They later foster teenager Amy Wyatt but things are strained when Amy gives birth to a baby and decides to give him up for adoption. Val and Eric separate as she blames him for encouraging Amy to have Kyle adopted and goes to Portugal. Believing that Val is not returning after she empties their joint bank account, Eric starts dating Brenda Walker (Lesley Dunlop). Val returns to find them together and is furious and things get worse when she learns of their holiday plans. Val asks Eric's son, David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden), to help her and finds him in The Woolpack with Alicia Gallagher (Natalie Anderson). When David refuses to help, Val turns nasty and starts attacking him and Eric but is stunned when Alicia Harding punches her, bloodying her nose. Val calls the police and Alicia is arrested and later sentenced to a year in prison as she has previous suspended sentence for assault. Val is then ostracized by the community. Val does try to withdraw her statement to the police, realizing that she has made a mistake, but as Alicia has already pleaded guilty, she can't. Despite this, she does eventually win Eric back as he realizes that life with Brenda is dull compared to life with Val.
In January 2014, Val's Portugal fling, Ian Chamberlain (Robert Cavanah), arrives at The Woolpack unannounced and tells Val that he is HIV positive. This stuns Val and frightens her, leaving her worried that she has the virus and has possibly passed it on to Eric. She goes to get tested with Ian but can't bring herself to have the test and lies that the test was negative but her behaviour shows otherwise, as she suddenly starts sleeping in the spare room and is cold with Eric. Diane and Victoria confront Val about it but Val reveals the truth to Victoria, who advises her to tell Eric the truth. Val admits to Eric that she had a fling with Ian and Eric forgives her but Val panics when Eric is ill but it is only mild flu. Eric realizes that Val has not told him everything and ends their marriage after seeing Val leave Ian's car. Hurt, Eric has a drunken one-night stand with Diane. Victoria, unaware of this, tells Diane that Val could be HIV positive, terrifying Diane. Diane immediately goes to the clinic and starts taking medication to fight the virus. Val finally plucks the courage up and tells Eric that she may be HIV positive, leaving him stunned. Val heads to the hospital the next day to get the results and Eric eventually turns up to support Val. They receive their results and Eric's results come back negative whilst Val's are positive.
Val is overwhelmed when Alicia throws her a surprise party and Diane reveals the truth about her one-night stand with Eric, Val is furious and throws a whisky bottle at Eric when he tries to apologize, cutting his head and subsequently feels guilty. Later, she humiliates Diane and Eric in The Woolpack by revealing their one-night stand to the regulars. Val gets drunk with Kerry Wyatt (Laura Norton) and they both fall over and Val's knee starts bleeding. Kerry is about to wipe the blood away but Val shouts at her not to touch it as she may contract HIV. Eric and Victoria then rush to help and Val is distraught when Eric has to wear gloves to treat her wound.
Val begins to annoy Jacob Gallagher (Joe-Warren Plant) so he posts online that somebody at Val and Eric's B&B has HIV, after overhearing that Val has been diagnosed. When Val finds out, she is stunned and decides to tell the shocked villagers that she is HIV positive. After being rude to Brenda when she offers her support, Val gets drunk and Jacob reveals that he was the culprit who posted her status online. She forgives Jacob and apologises for being irritating. Ian later arrives at the B&B so Eric punches him. This stuns Val and her new employee and friend, Finn Barton (Joe Gill). She takes Ian to the café, where they realise how well suited they are for one another. As they are leaving the café, Val and Ian share a passionate kiss, unaware that Eric has seen them. Val and Ian later begin dating but it doesn't last long and Val is devastated to find Eric selling her belongings outside The Woolpack. Val is later delighted when local delivery driver, Tiny Alcock (Tony Pritchard), takes a shine to her. They have numerous drinks and are attracted to one another, despite Eric warning Tiny to stay away from Val. The next day, Tiny makes it clear he wants to sleep with her but she panics and tells him she is just popping out for some condoms, but she actually confides in Victoria. She returns, and the pair sleep together. Unfortunately Tiny finds an appointment card for the sexual health clinic in Val's bag when looking for cigarettes and asks Val about it, so she tells him that she is HIV positive. Tiny is furious and tries to leave but Val tries to stop him. He pushes her away and she hits her head as Tiny storms out, leaving Val on the floor, devastated. The next morning, Val has a black eye and Eric thinks that Tiny hit her and confront him in the café, where Tiny is nasty about Val and her HIV status, infuriating Eric. The pair go outside, where a fight ensues and Val and Diane get involved. Val vandalises Tiny's van with a key as the police arrive. As Diane tries to restrain Val, she accidentally elbows a police officer in the face, and Eric punches Tiny. All three are taken to the police station, where they begin bickering, and they all spend the night in a cell. Diane and Eric are released without charge, while Val is released and charged with criminal damage, which infuriates her. After being released, Val finally forgives Diane after months of feuding. The following day, Val gives a heart-felt talk to The Woolpack regulars about living with HIV, which is praised throughout the pub.
For her portrayal of Val, Hardwick won Best Comedy Performance at the 2006 British Soap Awards. Hardwick received a nomination in the same category in 2007, 2008 and 2011. The actress earned a nomination for Funniest Performance at the 2011 Inside Soap Awards. Holy Soap said Val's memorable moment was being kidnapped by the Dingles on her wedding day. Hardwick was nominated for the "Best Actress" award at The British Soap Awards 2014 for her portrayal of Val. She was also nominated for the "Best On-Screen Partnership" award alongside Chris Chittell, but lost to Coronation Street's David Neilson (Roy Cropper) and Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper).
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