Emmerdale Alice Dingle star now – quitting acting, divorce and image overhaul

It’s been nearly two decades since we last saw the tragic Alice Dingle on our TV screens.

The doting Emmerdale mum was married to Sam Dingle, and together they welcomed a son, Samson, before Alice died of cancer that spread to her brain.

With Samson going through a tough spot at the moment thanks to Amelia Spencer, who is embroiled in a body image plot and determined to make it big on Instagram, he could probably use his mum’s support more than ever.

But where is actress Ursula Holden Gill now? Since she left Emmerdale for good in 2006, she’s been plenty busy – though she has now quit acting altogether after landing a regular role in CBBC series Wolfblood.

Daily Star takes a look inside Ursula’s life now.

Unrecognisable transformation

It’s fair to say Ursula looks a lot different from her days on the soap, where she was used to sporting a short crop of fiery red hair, sometimes hidden under a black wool cap.

Now Ursula sports a slightly longer hairstyle, with her brunette tresses falling almost to her chin, and tends to opt for plenty of traditional yet stylish outfits, including bright floral dresses and embroidered cardigans.

In one recent snap, Ursula wore her brunette curls atop her head in an artfully messy style, pairing her look with a burgundy polka dot dress and velvet black jacket emblazoned with red roses.

A floral pendant completed her outfit as Ursula beamed at the camera, opting to go make-up free for the stylish snap.

Career change

Ursula has now quit acting, with her last on-screen role coming as a clerk in the TV mini-series In The Dark back in 2017.

She also made waves in CBBC series Wolfblood after quitting Emmerdale, playing Miss Fitzgerald from 2012 until 2014, and before that had a regular stint as Carol in Teachers from 2001 until 2004.

Now, however, Ursula has pursued a different career entirely, as she is a professional storyteller.

She is even booked to perform “folk fables for grown-ups” at the upcoming Ripon Theatre Festival.

Her website describes her as a “unique force in storytelling”, and offers Ursula’s books and storytelling sessions, along with sessions for youngsters to improve their creativity and storytelling skills.

Away from that, however, Ursula is also keen to showcase her singing talent, having released an album full of stories and songs entitled There Are Fairies in the Gutter back in 2014.

Divorce and no job

Though Sam and Alice’s love story appeared doomed almost from the start, it wasn’t so with Ursula’s real love life.

However, after leaving Emmerdale behind, she confirmed to The Mirror that she had split from husband Howard Marsden.

The pair had been together for an incredible 10 years before they finally decided to tie the knot in 2005, but separated and divorced just a year later.

She told the publication in 2006: “It’s an incredibly sad tale and it was a difficult decision. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Some days things look bleak – I have no husband and no job at the moment.”

Ursula added: “When I stood there and got married, I wholeheartedly thought it was the right thing to do. But we just became more like brother and sister and that’s not enough for a marriage.”

She added that they “both decided” to separate, so that they could remain friends and keep things from getting bitter after Ursula “did all her growing up” with Howard by his side.

And Ursula was open to meeting up with Howard for a pint when the divorce came through.

Tragic losses

In preparing for the role of Alice, Ursula sat down with people who were also battling cancer – though some of her stories were devastating.

One of her friends sadly died while she was still filming in May 2006 – which, she told the Manchester Evening News, only made her more committed to the role.

She added to the publication: “But I did find it tiring, just because of the level of research that was necessary to portray the part faithfully, so that people watching actually got as realistic as possible a picture of what it's like.

“I think, because I shave my hair and I lost so much weight to do that part, whereas normally a healthy actor walks away at the end of a job and goes home to their own social life, I couldn't really do that.

"I'd be in the pub on a Friday with friends and I was instantly recognisable as Alice because I'm sat there with a bald head. So I was constantly being talked to about cancer. I found it very difficult to switch off, to be honest."

Emmerdale airs weeknights from 7:30pm on ITV.

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