Debbie Dingle is to receive a jolt in an upcoming episode when she finds that she's been reported to social services. Just as she’s about to attend Sarah’s birthday party, Debbie receives a phone call from officials who tell her that they’ve received a complaint about her parenting skills:
“She’s so shocked because, in her mind, everything she’s done recently has been for her two children,” says Charley Webb, who plays Debbie. “In her mind, she’s done nothing wrong and she’s just trying to do what’s right by the kids.”
Of course, the wayward Debbie has made no end of enemies in the village of late after ignoring Charity’s advice, sidelining Zak and angering Cameron. Next week, viewers will also see her get on the wrong side of Robbie after she sets him up with the police. So which of the villagers is responsible for landing her in trouble?
“It could have been any of them – Debbie doesn’t really know, so she suspects them all. To be fair, it really could be any of them because Debbie’s been going off the rails so much.”
At Sarah’s party, Debbie grows increasingly suspicious of everyone in attendance and ends up ranting at the assembled crowd. So what were those scenes like to film? “Actually, very difficult,” reveals Webb. “Those kinds of scenes are really hard to do because 15 of your friends are around you watching. It’s difficult when it’s emotional because I don’t cry at the drop of a hat, so it takes a lot out of me.”
And does Debbie’s anger stem from the fact that she might lose the children? “Absolutely! She’s never meant to neglect them. Although Debbie is very hated at the moment and people think the things she’s done are horrendous, she is a bit of a victim. But I think when someone’s acting like a complete bitch the entire time, you do forget that.
“But this is Debbie’s wake-up call. Her life couldn’t get any worse than at this moment in time. She’s lost the man she loves, she nearly lost Sarah last year and now she could be losing both her children. If she did lose Sarah and Jack, Debbie’s life would be over because her mum and dad have turned their backs on her.”
These last few months, we’ve seen a very hard-nosed Debbie who hasn’t thought twice about alienating those around her. But will we ever get to see the old Debbie back? “I think so. I’ve tried to maintain that vulnerability with her. She’s just broken hearted and can’t get on the right track again. She’s being a bitch because she doesn’t want anyone to get at her ever again. She never wants to feel as though things are out of her control.”