Until recently, Amy Walsh and Toby-Alexander Smith have largely kept their relationship under wraps, rarely attending events together or posting snaps on social media. But now the couple are ready to open up and share some special news.
“We’re so excited to become parents,” smiles Emmerdale actress Amy, who plays Tracy Metcalfe. “It felt magical,” adds Toby, who plays EastEnders villain Gray Atkins, of the moment they found out.
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The soap stars met back in November 2019 in the most showbiz of settings, sitting in the front row of the audience at Strictly Come Dancing. While Toby was there supporting his co-star Emma Barton, Amy was cheering on her former castmate and eventual winner Kelvin Fletcher, with her singer sister Kimberley Walsh.
The connection between them was instant, and just four months later, when the UK went into lockdown, the pair had to decide whether or not to move in together. They took the leap and the gamble paid off – and it’s safe to say now they can’t wait for the next chapter of their lives.
Here, Toby, 30, and Amy, 34, whose baby is due at Christmas time, open up about telling their co-stars the happy news, and why Amy wasn’t sure becoming a mum would ever happen for her…
Congratulations on the lovely news, guys!
Amy: We’re so excited. It feels as though the way everything happened was meant to be. I thought I might struggle with fertility, so for pregnancy to happen quite easily and when I wanted – I was gobsmacked. We feel incredibly lucky.
What made you think you would struggle?
Amy: I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at 20, so I always thought falling pregnant was going to be a battle. It’s something you feel you have to tell someone when you meet them, because you feel like you need to warn them. Toby knew how worried I was, especially as I’m a bit older. I did wonder if it would ever happen for me, so it feels like a blessing.
Were you trying?
Amy: It was planned but we thought it might take a lot longer than it did [laughs]! After telling Toby about my fertility issues and saying it could take ages, it happened in two months.
Toby: With a baby I think there’s never a perfect time. You could always think, “We could do with a bigger house or investing more time in our careers,” but if you’ve met the right person then that’s it.
Tell us about the moment you found out…
Amy: I obviously didn’t think it was going to happen that quickly so I was going to a bottomless brunch. I was two days late with my period, so I was like, “I’m meant to be drinking today, do you think I should just check I’m not pregnant?” I did the test and got in the shower and Toby was making breakfast. I caught sight of it in the shower and we’re so used to lateral flow tests and two lines being a bad thing, so I was second guessing myself about what I was looking for. I finished showering and looked at it again and ran to tell Toby. He didn’t believe me, he thought I’d bought a joke test! I remember him standing there with his hands on his head with a massive smile on his face for ages. And then we both started laughing and crying.
Toby: It was just such a concoction of emotions. We both assumed it would take a long time, so everything in that moment felt magical. I was in disbelief.
Amy: I ended up going to the brunch but I had to tell my friends the news as I wasn’t drinking. They were all crying. It was so weird because I’d only found out an hour before!
Amy, how did you tell your sisters Kimberley and Sally [Sheppard]?
Amy: I messaged my sisters and my mum a picture of the test with the eyes emoji. I wrote, “Uh guys…” They rang me straight away and were like, “Oh my God, you can’t tell us something like that over a text message!” They’re so happy and excited for us. Sally has just had another baby and Kimberley had her third in May, so it’s lovely the three of us will all have had a baby in the same year.
Who did you tell first, Toby?
Toby: My sister and brother-in-law, then a few days later we told my parents face to face. They were ecstatic for us. I think they had inclinations we were trying, but they were as surprised as us!
Who was first to know among your EastEnders castmates?
Toby: I remember going for a drink with Max Bowden quite early on and telling him. I texted Lorraine Stanley as she was actually there the night we met. I also told Linda Henry and Danny Dyer. Everyone is over the moon for us. They all said it’s such lovely news, especially after the year we’ve had.
Who did you share the news with first at Emmerdale, Amy?
Amy: I have a WhatsApp group called “Core Four”, which is Fiona Wade, Michelle Hardwick and Laura Norton, so I told them and also Roxy Shahidi. They were so excited. I’m so maternal with all my friends’ babies, like Michelle’s and Laura’s. It’s always something I hoped and prayed would happen at some point. I’ve enjoyed being an auntie, but after meeting Toby I felt like I really wanted a child myself.
Toby: I don’t think there’s a bigger commitment than having a baby with someone. I have always seen myself having kids, but it’s one of those things I’ve never put an age on. For me it was about finding the right person, and then the minute we met, I knew.
Amy: I’ve always wanted a brood. I think we’d like our first to have a sibling and then see how we get on with two. Toby knows there’s every possibility I could be pushing for four as I’m one of four!
Toby: Everything has worked out so far, so I’m happy to keep going with it!
You have seven nephews, Amy. Are you convinced you’ll have a boy?
Amy: The odds seem likely but of course it’s pure coincidence they have seven boys between them. It’s mental! That’s one of the reasons we’re not finding out the sex. We don’t care either way, it’s win-win for us, but it’s more of a thing for everyone with the seven boys. If it’s the first girl it will be a novelty, if it’s a boy it will be a proper gang!
You owe your love affair to Strictly…
Amy: Yeah! That’s where we met. The twists of fate that came into play to make us meet are crazy. Jamie Laing was supposed to be in it that year but he broke his ankle so Kelvin Fletcher replaced him, and Toby wasn’t even supposed to be in the audience that week.
Did you know you were both on soaps when you met?
Amy: No. It only came out when we spoke to each other and we put two and two together and were like, “So you do that and I do that.” We didn’t even say the words Emmerdale or EastEnders. After the show someone sent me a screenshot of us in the audience and I sent it to my best friend and joked, “Me and my future husband,” just thinking it was going to be a date. But after our first date I was like, “This is it!”
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Then four months later the country went into lockdown…
Toby: Everyone has been affected by the pandemic, but we’re so thankful it gave us this foundation we might not necessarily have had. We did four months of long distance and we were so happy, but we were thinking, “How will we ever know what it’s like to live together when Amy is up north and I’m down south?” Then lockdown happened so we had to make the decision quite early on to move in together. It was a no-brainer! I moved into Amy’s and those three months we had together 24/7 while there was no filming were the best three months of my life.
Amy: And mine! We got to spend every day together rather than just the weekends. It’s the happiest I’ve been in a long time. We didn’t post anything that entire time. It was the best thing we could have done to take the pressure off and see what we had.
Toby: No one knew we were together and we were in our bubble. We felt so happy and content. It made me realise if the world stopped again it didn’t matter – having Amy there was enough.
Amy: We’re apart again at the moment, thanks to filming. It’s not what you’d choose going through a pregnancy – you want to be together all the time – but there’s been no major hurdles. When I’m on maternity leave I’ll be based at Toby’s so I’m near my family, too.
Have your sisters given you any advice, Amy?
Amy: They’ve given me loads of tips and there will be plenty of hand-me-downs, especially if it’s a boy. They’re like, “You’ve got this down!” Everyone assumes I will be great but there’s part of me that thinks, “What if I’m not?” When I found out I did freak out and think, “What if this doesn’t feel completely natural for it to be mine?” But
I think it was just the shock. I owe my sisters so much in the knowledge I’ve picked up from them.
Amy, you’re currently doing a postnatal depression storyline. Has that been difficult while pregnant?
Amy: Not really, but I think it made me question more how I’ll cope. Once you know more and realise that kind of depression can just happen, it becomes scarier. I went through a period of thinking, “What if this happens to me?” but when I learnt more about the help you can get it gave me a weird strength and belief. I actually think
it’s prepared me better and certainly highlighted the signs to look out for. I think Toby would say the same watching the storyline unfold.
Toby: Absolutely, I think it’s a really important storyline to raise awareness. I’m learning so much from Amy and her family.
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