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EVAíS PAST COMES BACK TO HAUNT HER

What would her late gran say about the ex-street seducerís new sexy shocker? Well, Eva Pope will no doubt find out.

Even though she left Coronation Street seven years ago, Eva Pope caused such a stir that just the thought of her still brings a smile to the faces of male fans. As barmaid Tanya Pooley, whose curvaceous figure and wily ways helped her pull more men than pints, Eva earned a reputation as a memorable femme fatale.

To avoid being typecast as a temptress however, Eva steered away from Tanya-type roles. But now sheís back in Peak Practice doing what she does best. Evaís character, Nurse Claire Brightwell, has already employed seduction and blackmail to land a job at The Beeches, and now sheís got her sights set on Alexís boyfriend, Dr Tom Deneley. A worrying glint in Claireís eye also indicates sheís got more loose screws than a flat pack bookcase.

'This is the first character Iíve taken on that could be construed as a similar character to Tanya,' admits Eva, 33.'Claire is the same in that she is a manís woman, but sheís far more professional and intelligent. Tanya just used her sexuality as her strength and her weapon, whereas Claire uses everything - brains, body, emotions - to get what she wants.'

Meeting Eva, itís not hard to see why she should be so in demand as a seductress. Her tall and enviably slim figure shout bombshell, and her straight hair frames her face in the trendy Rachel-from-Friends style. Her big Bambi eyes are whatís most striking though. When Eva fixes her gaze on you, you understand how a deer caught in headlights must feel. Such intensity serves her well in playing women on the edge. 'I always get emotional characters,' laughs Eva, dragging heavily on a Marlboro.

'I think I have a facility to play that kind of character, because I can connect with my emotions very easily. Iím quite a normal person, quite balanced, quite boring, which is why I do enjoy these sort of characters.'

But Evaís neither boring nor normal. For a start, sheís psychic, and she knows how airy-fairy that sounds. 'Donít make me out to be some hippy!' Eva pleads. 'I was brought up in Lancashire, Iím a country girl, very down-to-earth, Iím not a weirdo! I just tend to sense things before they happen, or sense things about people, and I see ghosts. I always have, since I was a baby.'

Her first ghost sighting came in the familyís 300-year-old farmhouse near Wigan when Eva was just a toddler. 'My mother tells me that I was sitting on her lap one day and pointed and said, 'Lady!' and started babbling in the direction of this room that had been closed off,' says Eva. 'My mum felt the room go cold and the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. From about the age of five, I remember seeing a teenage girl walking in the house.' When Evaís parents moved eight years ago, evidence of the ghostís existence turned up. 'They took the loft down and found servantsí quarters and there were girlís clothes that I saw the ghost wearing,' said Eva. 'Iíd like to say I wasnít freaked out, but I was and I always am every time these things happen!' She lets out a raucous bar laugh. 'People call it a gift, I call it a burden.'

More recently, Eva, who was raised a Catholic but now describes herself as a Ďspiritual personí, has seen her grandmotherís ghost. 'My grandma died a few years ago,' she says. 'I was very worried about her when she died, because she was very frightened, but sheís let me know since that sheís okay.'

But today, here in London, itís earthly family matters that are troubling Eva. Sheís just returned from six straight months of filming Peak Practice, enduring a long separation from her five-year-old daughter Elise, who stayed behind at the family flat in Golders Green, London, with Evaís husband Laurence Lassalle, a graphic designer. 'Itís been horrible,' says Eva. 'I wouldnít do it again. Half a year of her life has gone by. Elise and I spoke every morning and night and went through all the tears and the missing each other. Sheís my best friend and Iím her best friend, so I do feel Iíve abandoned her. I feel a lot of guilt, because Iím a perfectionist in every way and more than anything I want to be the perfect mother.'

This desire for perfection as both mother and actress has caused something of a tug between Evaís two loves of family and career. When Elise was born in December 1995, Eva devoted herself to mothering and took a year off. 'I battled with whether I wanted to carry on being an actress because I wanted to be a mother and that sort of took over,' she says, 'That surprised me, and it also makes me quite afraid of having the next one, because Iím so ambitious and love my job. But I do want another one, definitely, in the next year or so.'

Like other working mums, Eva was forced to prioritise. 'Before, I used to be everyoneís social worker, but now Iím afraid I just donít have the time,' she says.

Evaís Bambi eyes grow bigger. 'I guess Iím kind of intense,' she admits. 'I have a lot of creative energy and get really involved in things. Iím not good at doing nothing.' Judging by the way sheís stirring things up in the Peaks, thereís little chance of that.

TV Times, November 2001

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