Emmerdale’s Samantha Giles says menopause left her feeling ‘worthless and panicked’
In 1998, Samantha Giles made her television debut as Bernice from Emmerdale. Over the past 25 years, she has played the larger-than-life character through what seems like an interminable number of comedic antics and disastrous romantic relationships.
Bernice, though, has changed in recent months. This week, we find her sleeping with a lovely harpist who is subsequently discovered dead in his bed. The problems with men and spectacular mishaps are still present. But while Bernice struggled to accept the menopause and deal with its symptoms, a new chapter in the story began.
Sam, 51, who has found herself becoming a spokesman for menopausal women across the nation, welcomed the plot.
The actress, who resides in Liverpool with her husband Sean Pritchard and daughters Eve, 14, and Olivia, 8, tweeted about “terrible menopausal anxiety” the night before our conversation, concluding with “hormones suck!”
“When we finally catch up, Sam says, “I think it is vital to be open about issues like that because someone else might think, ‘I was feeling like that, too.’ Maybe it merely serves as a gentle reminder that you’re not crazy after all; it’s just your hormones.”
In this interview, the actress discusses her and Bernice’s shared experiences, discloses her character’s “over the top” new business, and discusses her accepting family.
Hi, Samantha. What has the response been like to Bernice’s menopause story?
It was a bit divided at first since several people questioned why a “comedy” character had been given this subject. But I believe that’s the key. Everybody experiences this, including Bernice. She may be a humorous character, but it doesn’t mean she won’t be struggling with anything similar, and that it won’t be severely crippling.
I’ve been taking this dance class, but I’m a complete failure! But because there were so many new people there last night and it was so busy, I started to fear and feel quite uneasy. I experienced a severe confidence crisis. It was terrible.
This seems absurd, but when I got home, I simply started crying. To my husband, I said: “I’m such s**t. Everyone was looking down on me.” Then I realized that it was probably simply a hormonal issue and that this wasn’t typical.
Has your husband Sean been supportive?
He is quite talented. He must be, as he resides in a home filled with women! He is, though, in complete seriousness. As my oldest daughter is 14 and going through hormone changes, I believe that as a family, we are all just very understanding. And it goes without saying that my husband is more likely to suffer than the kids if I vent on anyone. He most likely takes the worst of it!
Bernice appears to be regaining her confidence.
The bed and breakfast is reopening this week. Has she benefited from this new project, then?
Oh yes. That has boosted her confidence a little bit and made her feel valuable and worthwhile. All of that seems to be related to menopause, don’t you think? a loss of self-confidence and a sense of having reached the end of your useful life and are therefore worthless. I believe that this has greatly aided her. The HRT is also beneficial. It’s not a panacea, and it’s crucial that we emphasize that HRT won’t entirely eliminate all of your problems, but it will assist. So, for her, things have somewhat settled down.
We believe things aren’t so calm at the B&B’s grand opening, though…
They are truly outstanding episodes. Excellent humor. Bernice has a propensity for exaggeration. The Dame Judi Dench suite and the Jane McDonald suite are only two examples of the rooms that have been given famous Yorkshire actors and celebrities as names. The décor was done by Bernice, whose taste is debatable. The abundance of gold pineapples is quite campy.
And Bernice ends up with a dead harpist on her hands?
She ends up wooing the harpist and spending the night with him in classic Bernice fashion.
Then everything starts to go a little awry! Bob receives a bucket of water as a result of Wendy misinterpreting what she overhears Bernice saying to Bob and thinking Bernice has slept with Bob. Tony [Audenshaw, who plays Bob] had it rough that day, and I felt awful for him.
You have published two of a planned trilogy of children’s books in recent years. Do you enjoy writing?
Absolutely, however due to Bernice’s needs taking up so much of my time over the last six months, I’ve been incredibly lax. But today, I took the time to sit down and read what I had completed for my subsequent one.
Writing is excellent because you have control over the stories and the characters, as opposed to acting in a soap opera where you just follow directions. Moreover, my magic company is humming along [Sam practices Wicca, a contemporary paganism, and provides spells].
What else do you do when you’re away from Emmerdale?
I enjoy working out and practice yoga at home. We enjoy taking walks together as a family, but my oldest has recently lost interest. We certainly enjoy traveling, but I anticipate that this will be the final year that my eldest will join us on a vacation. She enjoys French in school, so hopefully she’ll be more interested if we choose France so she can practice!