Emma arrived on Coronation Street in April 2018 to work as an apprentice hairdresser at Audrey's salon and quickly became involved romantically with her boss David Platt (who was using her to get over his rape by Josh Tucker). When the truth about David came out, Emma remained on the street - moving into the flat above the salon with colleagues Maria Connor and Bethany Platt - and had short-term relationships with both Seb Franklin and Chesney Brown.
Eventually, Emma secured a job for herself at the Rovers Return but contemplated leaving the street when John Brooker revealed that he wasn't her father on his deathbed in August 2019. When Emma discovered that Steve was her biological father she reluctantly began bonding with him.
1999-2018: Early life and misguided upbringing
Born on 3rd May 1999 to Steve McDonald and Fiona Middleton, following Steve's affair with Fiona's best friend Maxine Fiona went to stay with her parents where she raised Emma alongside her brother Morgan. Some time after Fiona married John Brooker and led Emma to believe that he was her true father. Although, John and Fiona's relationship didn't last and Fiona moved to Australia with Emma.
Not long after, Emma returned to Weatherfield as she missed her father and she was later educated at Weatherfield High (being the year above Bethany Platt in school). At some point John remarried and Emma moved into her own flat with a friend (who would often leave her feeling undervalued by throwing parties and taking her food without asking), despite this Emma kept in regular contact with her "father" - especially after he split from his new wife in 2018.
2018-2019: Apprenticeship and relationships
In April 2018, Emma applied for an apprentice position at Audrey's when Maria Connor struggled to handle her work-load with owner Audrey Roberts being in hospital and David Platt taking some time off work due to personal reasons. Her application was successful and she began work that month, much to the displeasure of David - who was going to be training her after he returned to work the same month - as he found her annoying. When Emma arrived late, having missed her tram as she was too busy preparing for her first day, she began irritating David by accidentally dropping products on the floor, her lack of initiative to put the kettle on and her constant apologies for her mistakes, among other things. David cited that she was a "walking disaster zone" and told Maria that there was no way she would be staying. However, Maria was insistent that she needed extra help with the amount of time David and his gran were taking off and said that Emma was friendly and keen to work.
Despite his initial dislike for Emma, he realised that she was the perfect opportunity to help him feel masculine again - after he was viciously raped by his supposed friend Josh Tucker in March that year. David seduced Emma and, hoping to impress the boss in order to keep the job, she agreed to have sex with him and the pair began a relationship - with Emma leaving her shared flat and moving into 8 Coronation Street, much to Gail Rodwell's shock. David's ex-girlfriend Shona Ramsey, who like everyone had no idea about David's rape, believed that he was suffering from late PTSD following his wife Kylie's murder a few years back (at the hands of her son, Clayton).
Shona told David to stop using Emma, as she was young and naive and shouldn't be brought into his dramas - but he refused until the tragic suicide of Aidan Connor in May. Realising the extent of his own mental health issues brought on by the rape, and that he needed help before he went the same way Aidan did - David broke off his relationship with Emma, confessed his love for Shona and admitted that he'd been raped by Josh. Emma got over being dumped quickly, moving into 19a Rosamund Street with Billy Mayhew and Summer Spellman - as per Shona's advice, and began showing an interest in local builder Seb Franklin who, unlike David, was a similar age to her. Emma and Seb began to flirt, despite the fact that he was still in a relationship with Faye Windass - who became jealous of his and Emma's attraction.
In August 2018, Faye's step-mother Sally Metcalfe clocked Seb's dissatisfaction when Faye revealed that she was returning to the area full time, having been living with her mother Anna for the past few month, and implored Seb to end things with her if she wasn't who he wanted to be with. Although, Seb found himself unable to confide in Emma that he had HIV and the pair's relationship didn't progress. Eventually, Emma moved in to 2a Coronation Street with Maria and her son Liam Connor after deciding to leave Billy's flat after it got too cramped with the addition of Sean Tully - who Billy allowed to sleep on the couch after discovering that he was homeless.
Character creation and role
Emma first appeared in Episode 9435 in April 2018. Mardell's casting was announced on 21st March 2018, where it was revealed that she would be introduced as the new apprentice at Audrey Roberts' (Sue Nicholls) salon. Duncan Lindsay of the Metro reported that Emma would be incompetent at her job, which would see her clash with David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) - who had recently been raped by Josh Tucker (Ryan Clayton). The character was well received by viewers - with David Brown of the Radio Times discribing the character as "bubbly". In June 2018, Mardell was offered a six-month extension to her contract after proving popular with the producers as well as the viewers. Following her contract renewal, Mardell relocated from her home in London to Manchester - where the show is filmed. Before landing the job on Corrie Mardell's only other television credit was for an episode of Vera in 2017, since appearing on the show she has become the co-artistic director at the JunkBox Theatre in Manchester.
Producer Kate Oates said that, by having sex with Emma, David is "trying to find a way to hide in plain sight". She added that David would credit having sex with Emma as "one of his big mistakes", but feels that it is a method of proving his masculinity. On her introduction, Mardell told David Brown that she found the experience "very surreal", but said that she "settled in quite quickly". As part of a new salon storyline, Mardell featured in scenes with Rula Lenska, who portrays rival hairdresser Claudia Colby. She enjoyed filming with Nicholls and Lenska and felt "spoilt" to share scenes with both actresses. Emma was also given a love interest in established character Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni), who is diagnosed HIV-positive. Mardell thought that Emma would be "open-minded" about Seb's diagnosis, but would not understand it properly. She also believed there would be problems with Seb's former girlfriend, Faye Windass (Ellie Leach), who was still romantically interested in him.
Following Emma's first appearance on the show many viewers began to pick up on the similarities between her and previous character Fiona Middleton (Angela Griffin) last seen in September 1998; as both characters looked alike, worked at the salon and lived at 2a Coronation Street. Although, during an interview with the Sun Mardell explained "I've heard the Fiona and Steve's daughter theory, but that's definitely not true. I did have a little chat and a joke with Angela Griffin about it and that was quite funny". However, the storyline later went ahead and Emma was revealed to be Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and Fiona's daughter in August 2019.
Despite the storyline going ahead, Fiona never returned to the street - instead appearing to Emma from Australia over a video call in Episode 9854. However, Angela Griffin made a return to the street in real-life to film her scenes and spent time catching up with Nicholls and Mardell. After the parental developments were announced some fans began theorising that a twist would see Emma turn out to be Jim McDonald (Charles Lawson)'s daughter instead of Steve's - due to his involvement with Fiona in the 90s. Although the show confirmed that Steve was her biological father when he received the DNA results in Episode 9853. In an interview, Mardell stated that she believed Emma would eventually come to terms with the revelation and "Isn't one to hold a grudge".
Teasing her character's future, she said: "No-one will ever replace her dad, but her mum lives in Australia and she doesn't have any other family on the Street so it would be a waste to let that relationship go. She bonds with Liz quite quickly, she's part of the family, they're taking her in. She's a McDonald now."
For her portrayal of Emma, Mardell was nominated for Best Soap Newcomer at the 2018 Digital Spy Reader Awards; she placed fifth with 7.7% of the total votes. She was also long-listed in the Best Newcomer category at the 2018 Inside Soap Awards. Mardell was nominated in the Newcomer category at the National Television Awards in 2019, and won Best Newcomer at the 2019 British Soap Awards.
List of addresses
|8 Coronation Street||25th April 2018 to 28th May 2018|
|19a Rosamund Street||28th May 2018 to 24th August 2018|
|2a Coronation Street||24th August 2018 to 6th November 2019|
|15a Victoria Street||6th November 2019 to 15th November 2019|
|2a Coronation Street||15th November 2019 to present|
|Hairdresser||Audrey's||20th April 2018 to present|
|Barmaid||Rovers Return Inn||11th February 2019 to present|