Emmerdale: Charley Webb and Ned Porteous on Debbie’s new romance – “It’s a combination of money and sex!”

Debbie Dingle meets the handsome Tom Waterhouse next week, but is all as it seems?

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Emmerdale are lining up a decidedly different kind of romance for Debbie Dingle when she meets wealthy new client Tom Waterhouse next week, and the stressed-out single mum is soon mixing business with pleasure as she spends more time with the handsome hunk.

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With Debbie having struggled financially for months to fund her daughter Sarah’s cancer treatment, she’s desperate to secure new investment for her car hire business – especially after her mum Charity almost run it into the ground. Having already met the enigmatic Graham Foster, she’s thrilled when he tells her his rich boss wants to meet her with an eye to doing business and thinks this could be the key to solving her money problems.

Arriving at a hotel lobby, Graham takes Deb up to the impressive penthouse suite where his employer is waiting for them, and Ms Dingle is intrigued to see a good-looking young man in a tuxedo. Mistaking him for the butler, the guy happily plays along until revealing he is actually the man in question and introduces himself as Tom Waterhouse – signalling the start of a very interesting relationship…

“There’s an instant chemistry between them,” says Charley Webb, who plays Debbie. “It’s a definite connection – something draws her to Tom but she doesn’t quite know what it is.”

The dashing Tom is set to be a regular cast member and is played by actor Ned Porteous, who briefly portrayed Grant Mitchell and Michelle Fowler’s love child Mark Fowler Junior in EastEnders last year.

Agreeing with Webb about the characters’ connection, he adds: “When they meet they both have their own personal agenda so there is a friction between them, that then becomes an attraction.”

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Obvious parallels come to mind of Debbie’s mum Charity’s ill-fated romance with rich rascal Chris Tate, one of Emmerdale’s most destructive and dangerous romances of all time, but Webb hopes things won’t turn as murderous as that as her character is not quite her mother’s daughter…

“You’ve got elements of a similarity to that relationship in that there’s a business arrangement going on and the chemistry that arises comes about because of a combination of money and sex. As the storyline progresses Charity implies Debbie is like her – and Debbie doesn’t like that one bit! I see Debbie as a mixture of Charity and Cain. Charity is much more conniving and I don’t think Debbie is motivated by money like her mother is.

“Debbie goes with her heart more than being attracted by wealth and status, which is why she usually ends up with people like Ross Barton. What drives her is stability for her children, so she does need to earn money to achieve that but she wouldn’t just be with someone for what she can get out of them financially – whereas we know Charity would. Charity even tries it on with Tom at one point, which ends in tears!”

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Teasing Tom’s first appearance on screen, Porteous promises he’ll make quite an impression. “He’s very rich with more money you’d expect a guy of his age to have. I get to wear really nice suits all the time and get driven around in nice cars by Graham!”

With the White family exiting this autumn and a changing of the guard being teased at Emmerdale’s prestigious Home Farm, long regarded as the soap’s seat of power, are we to assume Tom and loyal manservant Graham will be taking up residence in the big house?

“I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that score – he says enigmatically!” jokes Emmerdale producer Iain MacLeod. “But I will say Tom and Graham are long-term characters. As well as the interest between Tom and Debbie we have big plans for Graham as well. There is a really interesting 12-month direction, romantically speaking, for him. Potentially there is scope to introduce other characters around them further down the line.

“Tom and Graham have a very interesting dynamic – Graham is the Alfred to Tom’s Bruce Wayne. There’s a closeness between them that goes back many years when something big happened and one of them was involved in rescuing the other, leading to loyalty and an emotional debt between them which is kind of paternal.

“We’ll come to see they are more like family members than business associates, and the reasons for all that will come to light later on…”

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