Kitty McGeever as Lizzie Lakely (2010)
|Portrayed by||Kitty McGeever|
|First appearance||28 April 2009|
|Last appearance||7 March 2013|
|Introduced by||Gavin Blyth|
Call centre worker (2009–2010)
Factory worker (2010–2013)
|Home||Tall Trees Cottage|
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Lakely is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Kitty McGeever. She is Emmerdale's first blind character, and is played by a blind actress. She made her first on-screen appearance on 28 April 2009. To date, Lizzie's last appearance was on 28 March 2013. McGeever has recently had health problems, but, in June 2013, producer Kate Oates stated there have been plans for her to return. McGeever died in August 2015 without returning to the series.
Character creation and casting
In January 2009, it was announced that Anita Turner had stepped down from the position of series producer and that Gavin Blyth had taken over the role. With Turner's departure Blyth began the show's rejuvenation and with that came his first signing, actress Kim Thomson as Faye Lamb. On 2 March 2009, it was announced that Emmerdale had signed comedian Kitty McGeever, the first blind actress to be cast in a British soap, as Lizzie Lakely, the cousin of Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox). Speaking of her casting, McGeever said, "I'm thrilled to be joining Emmerdale as Lizzie and delighted that the show is challenging stereotypes in this way. Lizzie spells trouble from the word go and will be causing all kinds of strife in the village." Of the casting, the show's series producer Blyth said, "Kitty is an extremely talented actress and I'm pleased that she will be joining the show, marking the arrival of such a fascinating character. Lizzie is forthright and fun and she'll soon prove that she isn’t afraid to manipulate circumstances to her advantage."
McGeever later revealed in an interview with This Morning that she helped to create her new alter ego Lizzie, of this input she explained, "The character was developed by me with the producers. So I had some input. The producers came to see my standup show and Gavin [Blyth] the producer said: 'We want that woman on stage but toned down', because I'm quite outrageous on stage!" Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row about filling a disabled quota McGeever said, "I’m not representing anyone, I’m Kitty McGeever and I’m just blind."
Lizzie is first seen in April 2009, when she meets Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy) at community service. Laurel takes pity on Lizzie after realising she is blind, and buys her a meal after Lizzie lies and says she has left her bag on the bus. Lizzie is then reunited with her cousin Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox) in the village shop and whilst in the shop she tries to steal some items and puts them into her bag. However, Lisa catches her and asks her to put them back, with Lizzie getting out her purse which she had told Laurel she had lost. When leaving Laurel and Ashley's (John Middleton) Lizzie is taken away by the police after not obeying her curfew. Lizzie moves in with the Dingles but outstays her welcome which annoys Zak Dingle (Steve Halliwell) and she soon makes friends in the village. Lizzie makes friends with David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) and begins to support him in the upcoming council election, but when she is bribed with money she supports Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell) instead. She attends a council function for the disabled with him, but they are both removed by security when she is recognised as a thief and her tag is seen.
Lizzie attends Natasha Wylde (Amanda Donohoe) and Mark Wylde's (Maxwell Caulfield) vow renewal reception, and belittles fellow family member Marlon Dingle's (Mark Charnock) catering, knowing that he would cook her another meal too change her opinion of his cooking. Lizzie and Marlon become friends and Marlon asks her too move into Tall Trees Cottage with him which she accepts, much to the annoyance of his brother, Eli (Joseph Gilgun). Eli doesn't trust Lizzie and begins to follow her to find out where she makes her money. It eventually turns out that she is working on a psychic hotline and Marlon later discovers that she is, in fact, the psychic that he had been ringing and asking for romantic advice. After he makes Lizzie give back the money he spent on the premium phone calls. When she wins some money on a scratch card, Eli Dingle and Jake Doland (James Baxter) trick her in order to keep the winnings themselves. However, Jake feels guilty and owns up, returning the money. In his defence, Eli then observes that Lizzie herself is a con-artist and she starts to question her own behaviour. She and Eli gradually become good friends.
Over time, Lizzie makes more friends in the village, getting a job at David's cleaning firm; however she eventually takes a job at the sweet factory owned by Jai (Chris Bisson) and Nikhil Sharma (Rik Makarem) instead. Lizzie is attacked by an angry Aaron Dingle (Danny Miller) sending her handbag into the river and causing her to fall to the ground; thinking she has been mugged, Lizzie calls the police. Aaron later returns the bag after fishing it out of the river which Lizzie is grateful for, however he does not accept the reward she offered him. Lizzie is left feeling traumatised by this – vulnerable at her lack of eyesight. Marlon and Eli become very concerned when she refuses to leave the house. Lisa eventually speaks to her and Lizzie confesses that she had once been violently mugged and just how much her blindness scares her under all the bravado. Lizzie is intimidated when a desperate Shadrach Dingle (Andy Devine) hassles her for money for alcohol when they are alone.
In 2011, Lizzie is unaware that Derek Benrose (Stephen Bent) had raped her cousin, Lisa. After Lisa had been raped, Derek starts flirting with Lizzie and Lizzie is flattered with the attention she is getting from Derek, when Lisa tries to tell Lizzie that he is messing with her, Lizzie tells her to back off and thinks she is jealous that the man Lisa used to flirt with was paying someone else attention. The later on in that week, Nikhil asks someone to do over time and Derek volunteers himself and Lizzie, Lisa is worried by this because he thinks that Derek might rape Lizzie, so Lisa puts a stop to it by finally revealing that Derek raped her, he is suspended pending an investigation and Lizzie feels guilty because she blocked her best friend out when she needed to talk to someone, she apologises to Lisa and they make up and since then Lizzie has taken a distinct dislike to Derek and she, Lisa and everyone else was happy when Derek was sent down for rape.
In December 2011, Lizzie returns after being away from the village for a while and when she goes into the pub, she confronts Marlon, telling him that she had tripped over a handbag that had been left on the floor, she asks who is his new woman, but Moira Barton (Natalie J Robb)steps in and tells her that it is her handbag, Lizzie is confused and asks why Moira's bag is in the house, not knowing that Moira's husband John Barton (James Thornton) has thrown her out for cheating on him with Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley), so Marlon brushes it off. Later on, Ashley storms around Marlon's house looking for Laurel, but Marlon is left puzzled, he hears someone upstairs and rushes up there, he storms in the bathroom and catches Lizzie in the shower, later on Lizzie is confused to why Ashley was looking for Laurel and finds out that Marlon and Laurel fell in love while she was away but did not have an affair, this stuns Lizzie and she is left speechless. Lizzie later feels left out when Marlon announces that he is moving Laurel, Sandy (Freddie Jones), Gabby (Annelise Manojlovic) and Arthur Thomas (Alfie Clarke) into Tall Trees Cottage, she tells Lisa that she would feel pushed out, Laurel overhears and tells Lizzie she won't be pushed out of the cottage. However, Lizzie leaves the village without an explanation.
Disabled charity Leonard Cheshire Disability praised the decision to sign the first blind actress to be cast in a UK soap, John Knight the charity's assistant director of policy and campaigns, said of the move, "We applaud the decision by Emmerdale to champion the country's first ever blind soap actress. It is a breath of fresh air in an area where disabled actors and actresses are totally underrepresented."
In April 2010, Disability Now, a magazine aimed at disabled people criticised Lizzie along with fellow disabled characters in UK soap operas such as, Adam Best (David Proud) of EastEnders, Hayley Ramsey (Kelly-Marie Stewart) of Hollyoaks and Izzy Armstrong (Cherylee Houston) of Coronation Street for all being portrayed as 'vengeful' and 'personality-driven' stating that soap operas need to portray some disabled character's as 'normal' good people.
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