Elsa Chappell (née Feldmann) first appeared in 1990 with her mother Elizabeth and brother Michael after they were being evicted from their house by Frank Tate. Elsa soon began a relationship with Nick Bates and they got engaged and planned to marry on Valentine's Day 1991. However, Elsa was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Alice. As they were unable to get her to the hospital in time, Zoe Tate acted as midwife and helped deliver Alice. The couple separated, with Elsa leaving Nick on Christmas Day 1991, taking Alice with her. She soon realised that she wasn't suited to motherhood, as it prevented her having a social life, so she gave Nick custody of Alice before leaving the village.
Following the death of her mother in the Plane Crash in December 1993, Elsa returned to Emmerdale for her funeral. Elsa then attempted to gain custody of Alice again, by rumours that Nick and his best friend, Archie Brooks, who had also died in the plane crash, had been gay. However, a court ruled in Nick's favour and Elsa failed to win custody and left the village again. After living in Australia for a while, Elsa returned in 1999 with a new husband, Brett, and stepson, Shane, in the hope that she could get custody of Alice and take her back to Australia to live with her permanently. During Elsa's absence, Nick had been imprisoned for manslaughter after shooting a poacher dead and custody of Alice had been given to Nick's sister Kathy Glover. Kathy, who had become very close to her niece, had no choice but to let Elsa take Alice. Kathy visited Elsa in 2001 and brought Alice back to the village without her knowledge. Elsa followed her and after seeing that Alice was happy with Kathy, made her an offer to move to Australia with her and Alice so that she could spend a lot more time with her. Kathy agreed and she went with Elsa and Alice to Australia.
"Oh alright. So what's the latest? Any juicy news?" (first line)