Emmerdale: producer speaks out on Rhona rape controversy – and what’s next for the hard-hitting storyline

Pierce’s abuse continues but there will be redemption for Rhona


Emmerdale boss Iain MacLeod has spoken out about the reaction to the controversial rape storyline involving Pierce and Rhona which aired this week, and teased the future of the hard-hitting plot.


“It was a nerve-wracking thing to broadcast because it’s obviously very dark, uncomfortable territory,” says the soap boss, “But the reaction to it has been, on the whole, positive and we’ve had direct communication from people who have said this echoes closely with their own experiences, they were quite moved and pleased we had covered the subject.”

Responding to claims the scenes were too graphic for the pre-watershed 7pm time slot, MacLeod says: “Emmerdale has always covered hard-hitting topics and I think soap has a responsibility to do so.

“The content of that episode was heavily flagged in that it was part of a long-term story and the audience had seen it coming for months, and during the episode itself I think the scene that led up to it clearly sign-posted that the outcome was going to be unpleasant, so I don’t think we ambushed the audience in a gratuitous way.

“I felt it was earned and truthful and unbelievably well acted by Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather. I totally stand by it, I regret any offence anyone took from it but it’s an important story to tell, the issue of marital rape isn’t something that’s been represented that frequently in soap, that’s why it was really important we saw it.”

Discussing how it plays out in the coming months, MacLeod confirmed there was more drama ahead but spoke of Emmerdale’s commitment to an eventual positive conclusion.

“Rhona will ultimately see through the course of action she started on screen this week and we will follow the story through due legal process.

“Pierce is a controlling man and the tragic reality of the situation is that men like that don’t stop, and therefore we felt a responsibility to show Pierce’s behaviour continuing, albeit in a slightly different form.

“In short, we’ll be playing it out over the summer and hopefully finding an outcome that will provide vital redemption for Rhona. 

“We want this story to get Rhona, and viewers who have been through similar experiences, to a point where they feel it’s been a positive story to tell rather than a negative one.

“The worst thing we can do as dramatists would be to dissuade people at home who may have experienced this from coming forward and speaking about it.

“We’d hope the opposite is true that more people come forward and report their experience. We want that outcome for Rhona and the audience.”

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.