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Laura Norton and Mark Jordon were supposed to be spending 2020 planning their dream wedding, but an impending surprise addition to their family has put those plans firmly on hold.
“There’s going to be a baby shower before a wedding now,” laughs Mark as he and Emmerdale actress Laura exclusively reveal the exciting news that they’re welcoming their first baby together.
When Laura turned up at Mark’s home just before lockdown with three suitcases, the couple never expected to be coming out of it with a little one on the way! But the excitement between the pair couldn’t be clearer. Proud Mark, who’s already dad to Joseph, 22, and Poppy, 19, with his former wife Siobhan Finneran, tells us of his fiancée, “She’s absolutely blossoming.”
Laura found out she was expecting just four days before she was supposed to be returning to Emmerdale following lockdown easing. Fans have been wondering where her character Kerry Wyatt has been over the last couple of months, but now they’ll know there’s a good reason for her absence!
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She and Mark met when he joined the soap in 2014, playing her future brother-in-law Daz Spencer. The former Heartbeat actor, who was starring in a UK theatre tour of The Cat And The Canary before lockdown, returned to the soap in 2017 and he hopes to make his return once again.
Here, Laura, 37, and Mark, 55 – who have been together for five years – tell OK! which Emmerdale stars predicted their surprise news and how Mark’s children reacted…
Congratulations! When did you find out you were expecting?
Laura: I took the test on 1 June. We were out on a walk and I suddenly realised I was late. Mark asked how late I was and I said about three days but I looked at my calendar and it was 14 days!
Mark: It was hysterical. Laura was saying, “No, I know my own body, everything is fine, it’s not what you think.”
Laura: In the lead up to taking the test, I was saying, “I’m not pregnant. I’ll just know when I am.” I didn’t feel any different. I took the test and we looked at it together.
How did you both react?
Mark: In my heart I knew before looking at the test. We both looked at the result and there was so much joy, but for a weird moment we were both deadly silent. Time stood still while we took it in with smiles on our faces.
Laura: I had tears in my eyes. We’re over the moon.
Mark: And then I said, “Right, we better get the house on the market!”
So it wasn’t something you were planning?
Mark: Eventually, but the idea was that we were going to get a house, get married, have a baby and get a dog.
Laura: We just weren’t going to do the baby part quite yet! It was a surprise. We feel so lucky.
Mark: We were always hopeful we would have a baby one day if we were lucky so it was a brilliant surprise. You may have noticed that we don’t seem to be able to stick to a plan! Things just happen and we go with it.
Laura: Mark’s daughter and I have spent the last two years saying, “Can we get a dog?” Then lockdown came and it was the perfect time. Exactly two weeks after we agreed what puppy we were getting, I found out I was pregnant!
Mark: Our puppy was the only remaining girl. She’s black and she had this white streak down her chest and it looked like a feather. Laura and I are very into signs and we’re quite spiritual so when we saw the white feather on her we thought, “This is a good sign.” She is a Cockapoo called Juno, named after the goddess of women, babies and marriage. It’s very apt!
Laura: She’s our lucky charm!
When are you due, Laura?
The baby is due on Mark’s birthday [25 January 2021]. How lush is that?
Mark: I feel sorry for Laura though because that means she has two very similar characters to put up with! We’re in no rush to find out what we’re having. We just want a healthy baby.
Is being a mum something you’ve always wanted, Laura?
It is. It’s something I’ve always hoped would happen, but you never know. I hope my instincts kick in. I feel very calm and safe knowing that I’ve seen what an amazing father Mark is and I’ve seen how amazing his kids are. I know he’s going to be brilliant. I’m really excited to be a mam. For the first scan we went private because I couldn’t imagine going through that moment without Mark. He isn’t able to come to the NHS ones because of the coronavirus restrictions. We both cried. It was so overwhelming and also knowing everything is alright and the baby is healthy.
Do you feel prepared having gone through the newborn stage before, Mark?
It feels like a terribly long time ago, but being a dad is what I do best and the job I love most. The thought of being hands-on again and having a new person to look after is so exciting. Although I’m a bit older and creakier than I was before!
Laura: You’re not old. Hopefully it’s just like riding a bike! As I’ve been so tired, Mark has been the one getting up at 4.30am with the puppy. It’s brilliant practice.
How did your children react, Mark?
They were absolutely brilliant. Just by circumstance, we managed to get hold of Poppy first to tell her and she has been so caring with Laura.
Laura: She started making me smoothies to make sure I was getting the right vitamins.
Mark: She’s been calling her “Baby Mama”. Joseph has his own flat so we met him for a walk and he did this wry smile and just looked at us and said, “That’s cool!” He was beaming.
Laura: They’re both really excited. We have an amazing relationship and I’m so lucky. They’ve made it easy because they’re very special and they’ve been brought up beautifully.
Mark: They’ve been so supportive. They’ve welcomed Laura and they welcomed me in terms of me being with somebody. Laura met them quite quickly but it was very organic. They share everything with us. They’re both equally shared between their mum and I. There is no animosity – we’re all good friends.
Laura: They really will be doing the big brother and sister role. Usually between siblings there is a couple of years, but with them there will be a 20-year gap!
How did your Emmerdale co-stars react?
Laura: They’re all overjoyed for us.
Mark: Laura was due to go back to filming four days after we found out. She had to phone up and let the producers know.
Laura: I think the Emmerdale producer was the first person we told! I miss playing the part and being on set, but it’s there waiting for me when I’m ready to go back after having the baby.
Mark: They were brilliant. They said, “No problem, enjoy it and stay healthy and we’ll fix it this end.”
Laura: Charley Webb and Fiona Wade both bizarrely predicted I was pregnant before I even knew. Charley texted me a week before we found out saying, “Babe, I’ve got a feeling you’re pregnant.” I replied and said, “You’re way off!” Fiona texted me saying, “I’ve just had a dream that you were pregnant and you weed on the stick with me and I felt so privileged. We had a massive hug and I’m sad I can’t hug you in real life.” Fiona’s reaction was incredible. We rang her and the first thing she said was, “Oh my God I’m psychic!” Michelle [Hardwick] is also going through pregnancy in lockdown so she’s been giving me advice.
Would you like to have more children in the future?
Laura: I don’t know. Mark already has two children and I’m nearly 40. I feel very lucky that this opportunity has presented itself and that I’m healthy enough to be able to do this. At the moment I’m not thinking that far ahead.
How have you found lockdown?
Laura: Well, it speaks for itself really [laughs]! We’re grateful for the time together. When Mark was on tour we had a Skype relationship.
Mark: Between all the baking and now having a baby, I feel like we’ve ticked all the lockdown boxes! Laura has a place in Yorkshire and I have a place near Saddleworth, and just before lockdown my buzzer went and Laura was outside with three suitcases saying, “Hi, I’m staying with you.” She hasn’t left since!
Laura: Ever since we found out about the baby, we were like, “We really need to get a place together now!”
Mark: We were thinking, “Thank God Laura didn’t stay in Yorkshire.” If it hadn’t been for lockdown, none of this would’ve happened. Things would’ve been pushed back by a couple of years. The government has relieved some restrictions on house buying so we’ve packed up both our apartments so as soon as we find a place we’re ready to go.
Why did you hold off living together?
Laura: We always knew we were going to move in together at some point but we haven’t rushed anything and we had two houses to go between, which was great. We split our time equally at each other’s and we had a good routine. This is the first time we’ve had constant sleepovers! We’ve loved being able to spend so much time together.
Mark: When I was on tour, Laura still came here to stay and the kids would join her.
You got engaged in 2018. How did you propose, Mark?
I booked a holiday to Spain for Laura’s birthday. I spoke to her father and asked his permission and I spoke with my kids who were buzzing. My daughter even helped me pick the perfect ring. There was a festival in the bay and there were fireworks so I suggested we go onto the balcony to watch. It was hysterical because I got down on one knee and made a speech, but Laura was like, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” The fireworks were so loud!
Laura: I remember bits of it, but I really had to lean in! I had no idea it was going to happen. I’d put on my comfy clothes and taken off my make-up! We danced on the balcony to Beyoncé for an hour.
When were you planning to get married?
Mark: I got this theatre tour which was supposed to be December 2019 to December 2020, so we thought we could plan through that and build up a fund and then get married in 2021. But then lockdown happened.
Laura: We just thought, “Okay it’s not meant to happen this year, we’ll do it next year.” And then I got pregnant! So we were going to get married but then we found out we’re having a baby. I think it was meant to be.
Mark: We said we couldn’t believe there was another delay, but it’s for a wonderful reason.
What type of wedding were you planning?
Mark: We were looking more at abroad but now we’re in the unique position of also finding a venue suitable for a baby and a puppy. We’re looking forward to the baby now instead of the wedding. We will get married eventually. Poppy is the wedding planner and I’ve already asked Joe to be my best man.
Laura: I have too many people to choose from for bridesmaids but I’ve got my sister and a bonus daughter. Everyone from Emmerdale will be there.
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Would you have considered getting married while pregnant, Laura?
No. A few people have said, “But it could be cute to have a bump in the pictures,” and I’m like, “No!” We’re not in a rush and we’re happy. We’re not getting married to prove anything. That will be a bonus when it comes.
You met on the set of Emmerdale in 2014. How did things progress to a relationship?
Laura: It was about a year and a half later. We hadn’t seen each other since he’d left but we were friends. Then we just started hanging out and before we knew it we were falling for each other. We didn’t want to spoil our friendship. It was a slow burner.
Mark: When we met, this didn’t seem to be on the cards [laughs]!
So neither of you were looking to meet someone at that time?
Mark: I was focused on being a dad and work. A relationship seemed like a crazy thought to me.
Laura: Not at all. It came out of nowhere but when it happened we were like, “Yes, this makes so much sense.”
Mark: It was weird because at first everyone at Emmerdale was like, “Get out of it, you’re pulling my leg!” But then they said, “Actually, this makes so much sense, you’re so alike.”
Laura: People loved it!
Do you think you’ll ever return to Emmerdale, Mark?
I’d love to. If anyone was to say, “Are you ready to come back?” Without a shadow of a doubt I would. People on set would tell us they couldn’t work with their partner, but we loved it!
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