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Vets in Practice star Emma Milne talks to Yorkshire Life

PUBLISHED: 23:47 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:42 24 December 2014

Emma Milne

Emma Milne

Tony Greenway meets York-based Vets in Practice star Emma Milne

I've been thinking about this,' says Emma Milne when I ask her to tell me what she doesn't like about Yorkshire. 'And I can't think of anything. But then, what do you expect me to say?' It's a trick question. And - this being Yorkshire Life and everything - it's a very good answer.

Emma, who is one of the best-known vets in the country, isn't from around these parts originally. In fact, she only moved north five years ago, but loves the place to bits and isn't going anywhere. 'I travel to London occasionally,' she says, 'and as soon as I get on the train, I can't wait to get back to Yorkshire.' Again, it's almost like we're paying her to say this - and we're not.

Emma first found fame on the BBC docusoap Vets in Practice in 1996 - the show which also made stars of Trude Mostue and Steve Leonard. Eleven series were filmed altogether and Emma appeared in every one.

In one episode, she even got married to co-star Joe Inglis, but their relationship ended in divorce. She's now happily married to Mark, a fellow vet (and the reason she moved to Yorkshire) and they both work at York's Minster Veterinary Practice. She also occasionally presents the BBC1 documentary, Inside Out.

So how is Emma's Yorkshire life panning out?

Q: Vets in Practice showed every facet of your life - even your wedding to Joe. Do you regret letting the cameras get so close to you?

A: I wouldn't do anything differently. My involvement with Vets in Practice has done really good things for me. I enjoyed the filming because the crews were good fun, and I'm not megafamous - it's not like I can't go out - so I never experienced any of the bad things that can go hand-in-hand with celebrity. I've been to the TV Awards, done charity stuff, had a book published. I've no regrets.

Q: You're an emotional person.We've seen you blubbing on the telly when you've witnessed animal suffering or been forced to put a dog to sleep. You've chosen a tough profession for yourself, haven't you?

A: Yes, this is my big problem. It's not unusual for me to cry when I put an animal to sleep, and there have been times when I've had to be comforted by the owners! There was one case when I was dreading telling the owner that it was time to put her dog to sleep and, when it came to it, I started crying my eyes out. She put her arm around me and said: 'It's OK, Emma.We both knew this was going to happen.' I worry that it's not very supportive of me to cry but, on the other hand, if the owner can see you're not being cold and clinical about it, I suppose it might help.

Q: 'David Attenborough is a TV God.' Discuss.

A: He's irreplaceable. Steve Leonard is a good presenter, but all the programmes now seem to be very macho. There's an awful guy on TV I've seen recently who seems to spend his time wrestling animals to the ground. It's almost as if producers have said: 'We can't replace David Attenborough, so let's go the other way with macho presenters and titles such as Ultimate Killers.' It's a complete turn-off. You should interact with the wildlife passively, and Attenborough does that brilliantly. He's an absolute god. I met him once and I got really nervous beforehand. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes because they'll disappoint you. He didn't. He was lovely and funny.

Q: Last year, you left Yorkshire to spend two weeks working with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in clinics in South African townships. What was that like? A: An incredible experience. There are people who have the attitude: 'Why should you worry about animals in a place where there's an incredible amount of human poverty and suffering', which is a valid point. But someone has to look after the animals. And who are we to say how important or not those animals are to the children who live in the townships? I saw loads of kids bringing their animals to the clinics. And in some cases, where the children are losing family members to HIV, animals take on an enormous importance. So what we're trying to do is get more vets to sign up to volunteer in the townships. The project is open to any qualified vet even if it's for just a two-week holiday period. In the UK, yes, vets do good work but in a very privileged society. Over there, we do things that actually make a difference.

Q: What do you like about Yorkshire?

A: Until I met Mark, I didn't have any plans to move north. I loved the job I had (in Cheltenham) and - I know this sounds stupid - I was worried that it would be really cold up here. Mark pointed out that it was a bit colder but much sunnier. So that's fine. And while it's a cliché, I have to say that everyone is a lot friendlier in Yorkshire. I love the scenery and I love being near the coast - Mark and I kite-surf - so I'm settled and sorted. I wouldn't go back down south now. The village we live in is lovely and we've made really good friends.

Q: Your favourite view in Yorkshire?

A: Tough one, because I love the Dales, and I love the Hole of Horcum (on the Moors), too. If pushed, I'd say the view down Garrowby Hill (on the Wolds) because you can see right across the Vale of York. It's beautiful. It also reminds me of when I was living in Cheltenham years ago before Mark and I were married. I was on the phone to him and he said: 'I'm just coming down Garrowby Hill so I might lose reception in a minute.' Now, back then, I didn't live in Yorkshire and so I didn't have a clue where he was or what he was looking at. Now I do. So that view has always stuck in my memory.

Q: Do you have a favourite location in Yorkshire?

A: Easy: Fraisthorpe beach (on Bridlington Bay). The dogs are allowed there all year round and it's just such a stunning place.

Q: Do you have a favourite Yorkshire shop?

A: I hate shopping with a passion, but I would say Free Spirit (the active wear clothes shop) in York. I'm lucky because I have a younger sister who runs a bar in the Alps. She loves shopping, wears very cool clothes and comes home every year with a massive suitcase of hand-me-ups.

Q: Your favourite Yorkshire restaurant?

A: Loch Fyne, the seafood restaurant in York. I know it's a chain, but it's a good one. Another one we like is 19 on Gillygate in York.Tiny and tucked away, but very nice.

Q: You're very anti-zoo, aren't you?

A: I can't bring myself to agree with animals in captivity. I can't bear people walking around staring at animals in cages. And with all the television shows we have now, you don't need to see them in an unnatural habitat. You can see them, on a TV screen, in all their glory, on Planet Earth.

Any qualified UK vets interested in volunteering for the South African townships projects are asked to email their name and contact number to info-uk@ifaw.org; or for more information visit www.ifaw.org. Log onto Emma's website for animal news and information: www.emmathevet.co.uk


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