Natalie J Robb (Emmerdale) Interview

John and Moira Barton arrive in Emmerdale with their three teenage children Hannah, Holly and Adam in July, having upsized their successful farm to take over Butler’s.

The warm, likeable and picture perfect family quickly settle into Emmerdale life, but will the locals be ready to welcome them with open arms? It certainly won’t be plain sailing after a dramatic accident looks set to spell a volatile relationship with the Wyldes.

> Find out the latest Emmerdale spoilers.

Vivacious Moira Barton charms the locals as farmer’s wife by day and glamorous Woolpack barmaid by night. Moira will be played by acclaimed actress Natalie J Robb. Natalie previously played PC Andrea Dunbar in The Bill and her numerous TV credits include Silent Witness, Waking The Dead and London’s Burning.

How did your role in Emmerdale come about?

The call went through my agent and I was asked to audition. I auditioned with different actors and one of them was James. We were lucky enough to be picked out of the hat. I was really chuffed. I was at home when my agent called me. He said ‘are you sitting down because I’ve got good news?’ I think that finding out you’ve got a part is one of the best bits of the job. It’s a nice moment and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

What appealed to you most about the character of Moira?

I really like the idea of the modern day farming family. I think it’s a good thing to do and will bring a lot of freshness to the farm. The Barton’s are very lively and young-spirited and that really appealed to me. There are families out there that do work together and aren’t dysfunctional so the chance to represent one of those groups really drew me to the role.

How would you describe Moira?

I would describe Moira as being a very independent, fun-loving, strong woman. She really loves her family and is very protective of them. But she also wants to evolve them. They do a lot of things together and that’s what keeps them close as a family. Moira keeps everything going and coordinates their lives.

What are you looking forward to the most about joining the show?

I think everybody’s familiar with Emmerdale, it’s been part of viewers’ lives for such a long time and has been very successful. I’m really looking forward to joining because the team is so genuine and lovely. Cast and crew have been very welcoming and that always helps. There’s nothing better than being able to really look forward to going into work.

What other roles have you played in the past that viewers may recognise you from?

People still recognise me from The Bill where I had the undercover reporter storyline which was based on a true story, and the love story with the DCI. So people remember me from that most which is nice. I played a part in Kitchen with Eddie Izzard which was a very different kind of role. I also played one of Max’s mistresses in Eastenders in 2006 and had a fight with Bradley after turning up at their house demanding to meet his wife. There are lots of different things and I feel I’ve been very lucky in my career.

How does Moira manage to maintain a successful work/family balance?

Because she has the support from her husband. They’re a strong team together and I think that’s where we find the balance. They don’t take themselves too seriously and I think that’s a key factor. He encourages her to have her independence so they both do their own thing, but then share those experiences with the family. Now that the kids are grown up Moira and John have built their own lives back up.

Is it strange to be playing Adam’s mum, having previously worked together on Waterloo Road?

It was only last year so I was chuffed to bits when I heard he’d got the part. We already had a rapport. He’s a very good-looking, cheeky boy. It’s an attractive offspring we seem to have made!

Tell us about her relationship with John.

They’ve just got a great chemistry. It was love at first sight from the day they met. Moira really finds him attractive, fancies him a lot and loves him deeply. They have a lot of affection for each other.

She soon becomes the Woolpack’s latest barmaid. How will she affect the dynamic in the pub?

Generally she gets on with everybody. However, you’ll see her and Marlon develop a love-hate relationship which will be interesting. I’m looking forward to getting behind the bar and pulling a few pints. My mum and dad were publicans so I’ve had a bit of practice.

Which of the characters in the show do you think she’ll warm to or dislike?

I think she’ll be warm with Marlon, in between battles and that will be a nice thing. I don’t think she’d dislike anybody in particular, but I think you’ll see some confrontation with the Dingles, although quite tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think Moira likes what the Wyldes are about. They have different perspectives on life and I think that there will be some tension quite early on. There’s a big accident which could spell the start of a troublesome relationship between the two families.

What are you most excited about?

Starting work! We’ve filmed our first scene and I’m just looking forward to getting more involved. I’m really excited about it and I think that we all feel very fortunate to be in this position. We all get on really well so it feels like there’s a lot of magic surrounding it.

Don’t miss the Barton Family’s arrival in Emmerdale on Friday 17th July 2009 at 7pm on ITV1