I've been judged for not having kids & being single at 48 – but dating is difficult, says Emmerdale's Natalie J Robb | The Sun

SHE'S seen more relationship heartache than you can shake a shepherd’s crook at as Moira Dingle in Emmerdale.

But in real life, Natalie J Robb, 48, is happily single, with no desire to settle for anyone who isn’t absolutely right for her.

Describing herself as someone who lives in the present, the Scottish actress has learned that her approach to life is: “50% namaste and 50% f**k off”.

Natalie – who has starred in the long-running ITV soap since 2009 – says: “I used to get judged for not having children. People would be like: ‘What? You don’t have any kids and you’re single? You must be crazy.’ But I just never had that feeling of: ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to have a baby.’ It has to be the right situation – I didn’t want to go and do something like that on my own.”

Most recently, Natalie had a brief relationship with co-star Jonny McPherson, 40, who plays Dr Liam Cavanagh, but after he moved into her home during the pandemic, she realised they were better off as friends.

Taking time out from her busy filming schedule, we caught up with the actress to talk life on and off the farm.

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Natalie, what is it that you love about being single?

I really enjoy my own company. I’ve got my dog Bronson and I’ve got my friends, and I like the fact that I’m responsible for my own mood when I wake up in the morning. It’s difficult to meet people. That’s why you have relationships with people you work with – because you don’t get the chance to meet a lot of people outside of work.

Your last relationship was with your co-star Jonny. Why did it end?

Unfortunately, it was Covid times, so there was this added pressure. He moved in with me during the first lockdown and it was just too intense, too soon. And if you’re not used to that, which I hadn’t been for a while, we realised pretty quickly that we were better off as friends.

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How are things on set now – does it make things awkward?

We’re fine. We were doing a few scenes together the other day and it was lovely to see him. Our characters don’t really have much to do with each other on screen, so it was nice working with him.

If you struggle to meet people outside of work, would you consider online dating?

No, I’d prefer for it to happen naturally if it did, but I’m really happy at the moment, I’m in a really good place. I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Adam Cam’s Savage Wisdom. He reiterates everything I already know, but in a direct way. You’ve got to spend time with the people you care about and be true to yourself.

Would you ever ask a man out?

No, I’ve never been like that. I’m too old-fashioned. I’m really friendly, but I’d never go and chat someone up – it’s just not me. And I’m not into all that soppy stuff – I’m more of an action girl.

How do you feel about approaching the big 5-0?

I’m not bothered, really. If I can make it, then great, because there are a lot of people who don’t make it to 50. I live in the present. I’m trying to keep healthy. I’ve got a personal trainer, Jimmy. He’s ex-army and I’ve been working out with him for eight years. The training keeps me mentally and physically fit.

You joined Emmerdale back in 2009. Did you think then that you’d still be there all these years later?

No, because I don’t think that far ahead. But the role did come with a three-year contract, so I remember thinking: “It’s time for me to try to lay down some roots.” So I bought myself a house in Harrogate, Yorkshire, which I’m still doing up now. I’m such a DIY fanatic.

Working on a soap is one of the toughest gigs in telly – you must love it?

I really do. And to still be doing what I love, to still be in work, it’s great. I get people asking if I’d ever want to go off and do theatre, but my love is television drama. I enjoy the fact that it’s not the same thing every day. I love the spontaneity of it all – you just never know what’s going to happen next, especially in a soap like Emmerdale.

Other stars say Emmerdale is like a family. Do you all socialise outside of work?

I see a lot of Jeff Hordley, who plays my on-screen husband Cain, and his wife Zoe Henry [who plays Rhona Goskirk]. I go round to their house often. And I’m close to Ash Palmisciano, who plays my on-screen son Matty. I’ll often go for Sunday lunch with him and Natalie Ann Jamieson [Amy Wyatt].

Is there anyone who has left the soap that you really miss?

Adam Thomas, who played my on-screen son Adam. I really miss him. We’ve got photos of him up all over the set, which is lovely. I saw him last at Danny Miller’s [Aaron Livesy] wedding in July. He was just so humble, he said to Jeff and me: “Thank you so much for everything, you both taught me so much.”

Can you believe he’s gone back to Waterloo Road as a teacher? That’s where we first met. He was like a son to me, and I’ve now got that with Ash. You get those bonds – I’ve also got it with Sophie Powles, who played my daughter Holly. I went to see her and her daughter recently. And Sally Dexter, who played Faith, she was such a joy to have around.

What are your plans for Christmas and New Year?

Christmas is all about spending time with my family and friends, so I’ll get back to Scotland to see my brother. I’m not a big one for going out on New Year’s Eve. I will have a wee drink, but I’ll do Dry January again. I did it a couple of years ago and didn’t drink alcohol for a year – I felt amazing.

What’s next for Moira?

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Christmas is going to be difficult. Cain’s not going to be there, obviously, as he’s in prison, and she’s trying to keep it all together for the kids. But there is a bit of a surprise when Cain’s long-lost brother Caleb Milligan turns up unannounced. He’s played by Will Ash and viewers can expect lots of Dingle drama going into 2023!

  •  Emmerdale is on weeknights, 7.30pm, ITV1.

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