WITH her character’s skimpy skirts, acid tongue and bed-hopping antics, Adele Silva seriously ramped up the sexy scenes in 1990s Emmerdale.
And Adele 41, was so thrilled to be a part of the rural drama becoming a racy ratings-winner, she threw herself into a string of saucy storylines.
She said of playing Kelly: “I had my first sex scene when I was 16. It was on a sofa with my teacher. I wasn’t very experienced in that department, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.
“It’s not like it is nowadays, with intimacy coordinators.
“But you knew when you were doing a kissing scene there were would be no tongues. It wasn’t like a proper kiss.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is such a big storyline’, and then that was it, something was unleashed in Kelly — she got her taste for the men in the village.”
The controversial plot saw the schoolgirl have a steamy affair with teacher Tom Bainbridge.
The pair ran off together, before Kelly returned to her family after catching him in bed with another pupil.
She’d arrived in the village three years earlier in 1993, as part of a new family, to boost ratings alongside on-screen dad Vic — actor Alun Lewis — step-mum Viv, played by Deena Payne, step-brother Scott and half-sister Donna, who ended up being recast a few years later.
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At the end of that year, the soap aired its biggest ever stunt — which saw 18million viewers tune in to watch a plane crash onto the village.
It led to Emmerdale’s highest ever ratings and the start of an exciting new era.
Old ladies told me off
Ex-theatre school pupil Adele said: “I was at Sylvia Young when I got the call to audition to be part of this new southern family. I was only 13 when I started, so I grew up there.
“It took us a little while to settle in, what with it being a prominently northern soap. There was a little bit of a backlash, with people saying, ‘As if this London family would just rock up in this quaint little village’.
“I guess it was a bit out of the ordinary but it was such an exciting time to be there.”
Growing up on screen and playing such a controversial character, Adele is glad social media didn’t exist back then because people thought she was like Kelly in real life.
She said: “I’m quite relieved in a way because I would have been the prime fodder for trolling and abuse.
“Everyone thought I was like Kelly in real life. I’d get the odd comment from girls on a night out, but luckily it wasn’t anything major. I’d get it more from the older ladies when I was out shopping.
“They’d be like, ‘You are a naughty girl’ and start telling me off.
“But they weren’t talking to me as Adele, they are talking to me as Kelly!
“I’d be thinking, ‘What do I say? Do I tell them that I’m not really Kelly or start apologising for her behaviour?’.”
Adele stayed in the village for seven years, where she struck up a friendship with Mandy Dingle — actress Lisa Riley, 46 — had run-ins with Kim Tate, played by Claire King, 60, and got her claws into a number of men in the village.
I had my first sex scene when I was 16 – it was on a sofa with my teacher. I wasn’t very experienced in that department, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.
She even had an affair with her on-screen step-brother Scott, played by Ben Freeman.
She said: “Kelly was such a great character to play. She’d make the bitchiest comments. Honestly I’d read the scripts and think, ‘How on earth can I say that?’.
“But as an actor she was a joy of a character as she’d say things you’d never dream of saying in real life.
“What was also quite funny is she’d start all these fashion trends.
“She went through a phase of wearing long socks and then all of a sudden long socks were in fashion everywhere.
“Less was definitely more for Kelly, with her low-cut tops, tiny skirts, long black boots and the thinnest coat.
“The village where they film is absolutely freezing so a lot of the time it wasn’t just about acting. I had to act like I wasn’t cold either.
“My teeth would be physically chattering. People would be like, ‘Kelly looks so sexy’. But I didn’t feel sexy and was actually convulsing because I was so cold.”
After her five year break from the soap, Adele returned in 2005 bitchier than ever — and then again in 2011.
She said: “It was lovely to revisit her being a little bit older and seeing what she’d been up to.
“Had she changed? No she hadn’t. She’s still a bitch. It was lovely to work on new relationships. That’s when they put her with Jimmy King.
“When I look at the show now, Lisa Riley is back, as is Claire King. We did just have the best time. I have so many incredible memories.
“Although quite a lot of time on set I’d end up with bruises down my arms as I’d have to pinch myself to stop myself laughing.
It’s not like it is nowadays with intimacy coordinators but you knew when you were doing a kissing scene there were would be no tongues! It wasn’t like a proper kiss.
“It was usually when I was filming with Lisa and the Dingles.
“Someone would say something and we’d lose it. I’d cross my arms and pinch myself to try and hold it together.
“I remember during a comedy scene at the Dingles’ house, I had to come in, announce to Mandy that I was pregnant, and I fell arse over tit — making quite an entrance.
I’d definitely go back
“The set had to be stood down for about half an hour because everyone was laughing.
“We’d have some amazing directors and they’d say, ‘Come on girls’, but when someone says something like that it would make us laugh even more.
“I love that Lisa’s back as Mandy. We’re still really close. We try to catch up as much as we can. I’m still really close to Verity Rushworth, who played my sister Donna.”
Adele, who shares daughter Sienna, seven, with her partner, businessman Oliver Farber, 36, relocated to Leeds 11 years ago.
And although her little girl is too young to watch Emmerdale, she’s starting to understand that her mum was a big part of the soap.
She said: “Sienna doesn’t watch it as she’s too young.
“But she’s been in my company when people have come up to me and have asked if I was in Emmerdale.
“She recently asked me if I had any old Emmerdale clips she could watch — but with everything Kelly got up to, I won’t be able to show her for about ten years! It’s all a bit too naughty.”
Kelly was such a great character to play. She’d make the bitchiest comments, honestly I’d read the scripts and think how on earth can I say that!.
And with her niece April also in the village, she would love to return one day.
She said: ‘I’d definitely go back if they asked me. Obviously Kelly’s son is there and she’s not seen him for years.
“Then there’s little April. You can imagine Marlon’s face if her auntie Kelly turned up. He’d be horrified.
“Mandy was Kelly’s best friend and there’s the history she has with Kim Tate. I just love Kim, you always know she’s going to be at the heart of an incredible storyline.
“She pushed me down the stairs when I was pregnant with her stepson Chris Tate’s baby and I had a miscarriage. I was so lucky with the storylines they kept giving me.
“My little girl is a bit older now. She’s happy and settled, it’s been great spending time at home with her being a mum. That’s the thing about working on a soap like Emmerdale.
“It’s so full on. You’re up early, work late and then have to learn your lines for the next day.”
And Kelly says nothing compares to her role in the Dales.
She added: “I had guest stint in Hollyoaks for a few episodes, which was really nice, but Kelly will always be the biggest role I’ve ever played.
“She really was such a fantastic character and I feel so proud to have been a part of the show as it turns 50.
“It was an amazing place to work — the cast and the crew were all just lovely. Some of my best memories are from my time in Emmerdale.”
- Emmerdale’s 50th anniversary show airs this Sunday on ITV at 7pm with an hour-long special.