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Michelle Hardwick (also known as Michelle Brooks, born 26 February 1976) is an award winning English actress. She is best known for her role as hospital receptionist Lizzie Hopkirk in the ITV drama series The Royal. In 2012, she accepted the role as a regular in ITV soap opera Emmerdale as Vanessa Woodfield.
(m. 2015; div. 2017)
Kate Brooks (m. 2019)
Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Hardwick studied Performing Arts at Park Lane College, Leeds, and then attended Scala Performing Arts, Leeds, following which she has acted in the theatre as well as appearing on television.
In 2000, she played the role of Hero in the Northern Broadsides' production of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing".
She has taken notable roles in Heartbeat and Coronation Street. Michelle has appeared in three different episodes of the ITV UK TV series Heartbeat (1995 as Sandra in "Toss up"; 2002 as Lesley Sutton in "Coming of Age", which featured the death of character PC Tom Nicholson, played by Ryan Early; and finally in 2003 as Lizzie Hopkirk in "Out of the Blue"). Hardwick appeared in Coronation Street in 1997 as Sheila Dixon and in 1998 as Naomi Russell.
Her biggest role came through her casting as receptionist Lizzie Hopkirk (Kennoway) in ITV UK TV series The Royal. The 1960s-set hospital drama was a spin-off from Heartbeat and soon gathered popularity on its own account. Hardwick's portrayal of the ditzy Lizzie (often referred to as "Dizzy Lizzie") was a firm favourite amongst viewers. Lizzie delivered some very funny lines, including "A woman needs a fish like a man needs a bicycle". She was known for getting well-known phrases mixed up, malapropisms and general comedic lines. However, Hardwick also demonstrated Lizzie's more serious side when she had to deal with her husband leaving her in the episode "For better for worse".
A talented singer, Hardwick has sung on both The Royal and Abbamania2. She sang "With a little help from my friends" as Lizzie and took part in Abbamania performing "Waterloo" with fellow TV actress Vickie Gates and actors Will Mellor and Lee Otway. However, she has said that acting is her first love.
Hardwick has been taken part in pantomimes, taking the main parts of Snow White and Cinderella, and in stage shows such as Pete Gordon's "Murdered to Death" and "Death by Fatal Murder" touring around the UK.
In October 2012, it was announced that Hardwick had landed a role in ITV soap Emmerdale. She was to play Rhona's wild friend from college Vanessa Woodfield, who had been tipped to shake up life at the vets' surgery. Vanessa was billed as a "self-assured party girl" who would be "like a breath of fresh air" when she arrived at the vets' practice. While Vanessa is always up for a laugh, she is also plain-speaking and instantly clashes with Rhona's husband Paddy.
Hardwick commented: "As a local girl and a fan of the show, Emmerdale is my dream job. After only two days, I am starting to feel at home already and Vanessa is such a fun character. I can't wait to see what's in store for her." Vanessa will appear on screens from December. Hardwick and Vanessa have proved popular with audiences, especially Vanessa’s relationship with Charity Dingle which has helped fans to come out as gay.
On 7 June 2019 Michelle won Actor of the Year at the Diva (magazine) awards - her first individual accolade for the role of Vanessa Woodfield.
Hardwick is openly lesbian. In July 2013, she spoke publicly about her sexuality for the first time, confirming that she was in a long term relationship with music teacher Rosie Nicholl. The couple became engaged on 31 December 2013, and married on 4 April 2015. In 2017, Hardwick announced they were divorcing.
In October 2018, Hardwick revealed in an Instagram post that she was in a relationship with Emmerdale producer Kate Brooks. She announced the couple's engagement on Twitter in December 2018. They married on 10 September 2019 at Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee.
- @ChelleHardwick (12 September 2019). "In over 100 degrees heat, on Tuesday 10th September, I became Mrs Brooks" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @ChelleHardwick (5 October 2013). "I'm pretty sure my mum gave birth to me in 1976" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Macdonald, Chris (7 September 2015). ""I'm a running convert"". Women's Running. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- @katebrooks (28 April 2019). "Just been to see the wonderful "Much Ado About Nothing" with my wife-to-be" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Nicki Embleton (5 June 2016). "Emmerdale star Michelle Hardwick talks about doing Race for Life in Leeds". Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "'Emmerdale' unveils four new characters". Digital Spy. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "Emmerdale star announces engagement". Digital Spy. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "'Emmerdale' Michelle Hardwick: 'People don't guess I'm gay'". Digital Spy. 6 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- Sandwell, Ian. "Emmerdale's Michelle Hardwick reveals she's split from her wife Rosie". Digital Spy.
- Harp, Justin (12 October 2018). "Emmerdale star reveals she's dating show's producer". Digital Spy.
- Hardwick (12 Dec 2018), Michelle. "No Ordinary Proposal". Twitter. Retrieved 9 June 2019.