Sunday Mirror Magazine:
TV VAMP CHASTITY'S CHILDHOOD TORMENT
Nov 16 2003
Exclusive By Anna Pointer Additional Reporting: Pat Hill
AS the latest member of Emmerdale's notorious Dingle family she's
already raised a few eyebrows - and pulses.
Actress Lucy Pargeter's brief appearance last year as the stripping
nun Chastity in stockings, suspenders and basque was such a ratings-
winner that she's now landed a full-time role in the soap.
Which is quite a feat for a girl who was bullied mercilessly at
school for being too fat.
Lucy, 26, says: "Between seven and 13 I was the fat kid.
children called me names. It was all really cruel and upset me
much I'd cry myself to sleep."
In fact, Lucy was so self-conscious about her figure she once
drastic action to avoid being on stage at school.
She says: "We were all dressed as fairies and I felt so embarrassed
about my costume not fitting properly that I ripped my tutu so
didn't have to go on stage. The whole childhood thing left me very
conscious about my weight - and that fear will be there for ever."
Luckily Lucy, who had previously played stripper Helen Raven in
doomed soap Crossroads, is now proud to show off her body.
"Undressing is just part of the job," she says. "But
I have to admit
it was a bit embarrassing having to strip off on my very first
the Emmerdale set! But thankfully it wasn't too revealing - it
couldn't be for a 7pm show."
Lucy managed to slim down as she reached her teens. She says: "I
couldn't understand why I was fat so decided to compare what I
eating with what my friend ate. It was only then I realised I was
eating a lot of crap.
"I can't believe I was such a gannet. I would eat five or
chocolate bars a day - which is what my friend would have in a
"There's no reason I over-ate. My parents were incredibly
and I was happy other than that. I just ate every time I was hungry."
After realising where she was going wrong, Lucy says she ruled
the fatty foods. "I changed my eating habits and finally lost
weight. About the age of 14 I had my hair permed and boys started
noticing me for the first time."
And despite her now slim figure, Lucy confesses: "I do have
it still and tried the Atkins Diet a while back with my friend.
gutted though - she lost 9lb and I put on six, doing exactly the
as her. Maybe my body is just weird, but I've tried all sorts of
diets and they don't work.
"But I believe in everything in moderation, so I still have
bar of chocolate - just not five at once!
Lucy's acting career really took off two years ago when she starred
as a hairdresser in a government TV advert, aimed at stamping out
benefit fraud. But she was caught up in controversy after it was
claimed she was claiming unemployment benefits herself while working
as a jobbing actress.
Lucy is still very defensive about it. "There was no truth
and it was very upsetting," she insists. "I had a flat
to pay for and
was looking for work. I wasn't ashamed to claim benefits. Then,
two days' work on an advert but had to wait two months for the
As soon as I got paid I signed off, and I have proof of that."
Lucy had also achieved minor fame as a member of a girl-band called
Paper Dolls, who split up three years ago after touring with top
groups like Boyzone and Westlife. "They were fantastic, and
days," she says. "The boys were always pretty well behaved,
think the only hotel rooms being trashed were ours.
"But there were loads of drunken parties and we'd often stay
night. Once one of the singers was caught having a very steamy
with a girl at 3am. It was so steamy it set the fire alarms off
we all had to run outside. I won't say who it is though - I'm still
mates with the guys."
Lucy, who lives in London, adds: "I know we were the envy
of girls being on tour with them. But we saw their other sides
like when they were grumpy or suffering really bad hangovers."
Although Lucy's band were dropped by their label after a merger,
has no regrets. "I had a whale of a time, but we weren't making
money. We did all the performing, recording and stadium tours,
experienced everything as a group - apart from the success."
It was then that Lucy returned to acting, and picked up parts
Crossroads, Soldier, Soldier and films including Anita And Me.
first appeared in Emmerdale for five episodes last year, and when
Crossroads was dropped, decided to see if Chastity could be
resurrected ...for good.
"We were given just two weeks notice that Crossroads was
so I phoned the Emmerdale producers and asked if there was a
possibility that Chastity could come back.
"It appeared that the response first time round had been
people had written saying 'Are we going to see more of her'?"
Since her reappearance in September, Lucy has attracted a legion
male fans. "It feels a bit weird, but being seen as a sex
symbol is a
great compliment. I get lots of nice letters from men, but nothing
creepy yet, thank God. And I can still go to Tesco in peace without
being recognised, which suits me."
Just as well perhaps, as Lucy has been with boyfriend Christian
five years. "He's in the music industry and we met at a studio
Sheffield while I was working on an album with my band. He's good
mates with the Westlife boys, so we all still get together now
again," she says.
But they have no plans to settle down yet. "It's still too
jump into marriage. Our careers are both hectic, he's been in
Australia for a couple of months. We also have a dog - and that's
only child we need right now."
Lucy is also perfectly happy with the way her career is going. "I
don't have any grand vision for the future. It's a relief to be
to pay the mortgage and I'm happy just to be working.
"Chastity is going to make her mark in Emmerdale - I'm sure
She is a Dingle after all. She's basically the female version of
half-brother Cain - she has a short temper and likes stirring up
"We've just finished filming our Emmerdale Christmas scenes
weird, as we're taking down all the decorations."
Although Lucy won't reveal what scandal might be coming Chastity's
way, she says: "I can reveal that the New Year storyline is
be a shocking one - and very sad.
"But the Dingles will keep well out of it this time, for