Inside Emmerdale’s Lesley Dunlop and Chris Chittel’s marriage from on-set romance to wedding joy

We know them best for playing fan favourite couple Brenda Walker and Eric Pollard on Emmerdale, but one thing many viewers may not know, is that actors Lesley Dunlop and Chris Chittel are also a couple in real life too.

Romance originally blossomed for the couple after the pair crossed paths while filming back in 2008, when Lesley first joined the cast of the iconic ITV soap as shopkeeper Brenda.

This week, Erica and Brenda's solid romance faced its greatest test yet, when Eric brutally dumped Brenda, as he sought to protect her from his heartbreaking Parkinson's disease diagnosis.

Yet while their romance appeared to be doomed on screen, away from the cameras Chris and Lesley's real-life relationship has gone from strength to strength.

But how exactly did the couple's romance begin?

First Meetings and Early Romance

In an interview with the Daily Record in 2012, just four years after the pair first met, Chris revealed that he had Emmerdale to thank for his relationship.

He said: "Everyone thinks it’s the younger members of the cast who have all the fun but we more mature ones do, too.

“It was weird. Somehow we’d never met before and we just kept bumping into each other at work.

“I can’t even remember if I asked her for a date or she asked me but she is wonderful and we’re very happy.”

Elaborating further about how they managed to make their relationship work while working together on screen, Chris revealed that he and Lesley had made a conscious effort to not talk about their work at home in order to help maintain a healthy balance.

Working Together

In order to help maintain that work-life balance, at first, Chris and Lesley had specifically requested not to have their characters get together on Emmerdale, something which fit in well with the storylines in progress, as Chris’ character Eric was in a committed relationship with Val Pollard for a number of years.

However, that soon changed in 2013, when Eric split from Val and began a relationship with Brenda, something which allowed the pair to bring a little real life romance to the show set.

In true soap fashion, Eric and Brenda’s original brush with romance didn’t last and the pair soon broke up, but in a surprising twist the pair later put aside their differences and started a new romance in 2019 which has continued to this very day on the show.

In fact, it was all thanks to their real life romance that Chris and Lesley were able to continue filming their scenes together during the coronavirus pandemic, as they were both in the same support bubble due to living together!

Wedded bliss

After dating for a number of years, Lesley and Chris finally decided to take their relationship to the next level, by officially announcing their engagement in 2015.

The following year, the couple finally tied the knot at a beautiful ceremony in the coastal village of Coverack, hundreds of miles away from the Yorkshire dales.

For the occasion, blushing bride Lesley opted for a stunning fairytale style gown comprised of multiple layers of chiffon, and completed with a veil and vibrant flower crown. In a nod to her own sense of personal style, Lesley also added a finishing touch of lace ankle boots.

Chris meanwhile, opted for a stone coloured three piece suit complete with a pale blue shirt and blue suede brogues.

The wedding, which was the second marriage for Chris, took place at St.Peter’s church in the village, with a number of the couple’s Emmerdale co-stars in attendance, including Bhasker Patel, Sam Hall and Nicola Wheeler.

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