Emmerdale is to explore the emotional subject of sudden unexplained infant death when Carly Hope reveals that she had a baby boy who died.
Carly, who is played by Gemma Atkinson, will open her heart to Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) in powerful scenes to be broadcast next week.
The truth looks set to come out after Carly takes her eye off young April Windsor, who leaves the local cafe and goes wandering off into the village. After the little girl is returned to Carly’s care, the childminder then has a showdown with April’s dad Marlon.
“Marlon accuses Carly of not being able to relate to a child going missing. He says it’s only something a parent can relate to. And she screams out that she has been a parent,” explains Atkinson. “She blurts it out, so she then has to explain everything that happened to her. It’s the first time she’s spoken of it in four years. Not even Bob or her mum knows.”
Viewers have already seen Carly holding a photograph of a young baby, but this will be the first time the character has spoken about her past trauma.
Adds Atkinson: “He was a baby boy called Billy and he died of sudden infant unexplained cot death. At the time, she was a single mum, so she found him and was with him in the ambulance. She went through it all on her own. She had to bury him and get the death certificate.
“What Carly has been through is really tragic and she’s carried this guilt and hurt with her all this time.”
On the topic of what impact she hopes the storyline will have, the actress says: “I haven’t got a child of my own, but I think that the first thing parents do when their child gets ill is to blame themselves. But with cot death, it’s not the fault of the parents.
“That’s what parents need to realise. It’s an horrendous, unfortunate thing, but you can move on from it.”
Upcoming episodes will see Carly try to keep the facts between just herself and Marlon for fear of other villagers feeling sorry for her. But Atkinson is hoping that Carly eventually has a heart to heart with dad Bob.
“Carly feels that the less people know, the less they’ll judge. But I hope that she has a proper father-daughter chat with Bob. Although Bob is well loved in the village, he hasn’t been the best of dads, so it’d be good for him to know what he missed out and how he could have helped.”
As for how the story will progress, the actress promises that further twists are to come over the coming months in the wake of Carly finally opening up.
“There’s a lot more to it that people don’t know about. She’ll get over this hurdle but will then be dealt something else. There are so many more storylines coming from this.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news