After a turbulent month, Emmerdale's Ali and Ruby are finally set to tie the knot. But in true soap wedding style, there's drama in store, as actress Alicya Eyo tells Jeananne Craig

EMMERDALE’S Ruby Haswell always dreamt of a big white wedding, so the soap's costume department pulled out all the stops to give the character a stunning sweetheart-necklined, full-skirted confection for her nuptials to Ali Spencer.

Things weren't so picture-perfect behind the scenes, however, for Alicya Eyo, who plays waitress Ruby, and co-star Kelli Hollis, who plays her factory worker fiancee.

"On the takes, we obviously put our heels on, but between takes, you look down and we've both got these crazy big boots on to keep our feet warm - boots that they probably wear in the Antarctic," Eyo says.

And while the actress "loved" Ruby's dress, she confesses: "I couldn't breathe for the whole day, but that was fine. It took a lot of hoicking up, let's put it that way!"

It's been a tough few weeks for Ruby and Ali, following the recent revelation that Ali had a one-night-stand with ex-husband Dom (and briefly thought she might be pregnant). In the aftermath, Ruby left the village to stay with friends, before returning and reconciling with her partner.

Giggles aside, former Bad Girls actress Eyo and Shameless star Hollis found themselves welling up while filming the couple's big day, which sees Ali's son Sean (played by Luke Roskell) return from the army to give his mum away.

"From the moment we got dressed until we wrapped, it was really emotional," says Eyo, 38. "We really missed Luke and now he's all grown up. So it was emotional for the characters and for us, all at the same time. I had tissues and eyeliner constantly on hand."

In true soap wedding fashion, things don't go to plan. When it turns out that the registrar has died, vicar Harriet suggests the pair marry in the church. Fellow vicar Ashley is concerned, however, that they don't have the Bishop's permission. And just when it seems things couldn't get any worse, the police arrive at the scene.

"It's a right old palaver, I tell you!" says Eyo.

Eyo, who was recently named Entertainer of the Year at the gay rights charity Stonewall Awards, admits she wasn't sure what some fans of the soap would make of a lesbian couple in the Dales.

"But you know what? The most amazing comments come from 80-year-old ladies in Asda who stop me and go, ‘Oh, I hope you have that baby', and, ‘When are you going to get married?' They're so supportive of the relationship and they like the characters. It's been overwhelming.

"Soaps are a representation of life and they keep up with the times," she adds. "It's a natural, organic process for all soaps to have gay characters in them. We're all on board with normalising gay relationships.

On top of getting stopped by Emmerdale fans in the supermarket, Eyo still gets recognised for her role in former ITV drama Bad Girls, in which she played inmate Denny Blood.

"It's repeated every now and again and a whole new audience of young people are watching it," she notes. "It's great that it's still out there and sending strong messages, it's still a good show and something I'm really proud of."

Home for Eyo is currently Leeds, where she rents a house with friend and co-star Liam Fox, who plays Dan Spencer ("we call it Casa Spencer"), and she plans to stay on Emmerdale "for the near future, anyway".

"I love this job and I'm happy to be here for as long as they'll have me. I understand how the soap-world works, and people come in and out all the time," she says.

And she believes there's a lot more to discover about her character.

"I think she's always going to hold on to wanting a baby, so I'd like to see that explored a bit further down the line," says the actress. "I'd like to see them sort things out with Rachel [Ali's sister, who is missing with son Archie], because that's weighing down on the family at the moment.

Emmerdale’s wedding episode airs tonight at 7pm