Emmerdale’s Debbie Dingle and Ross Barton have a long and complicated history – the kind that can’t easily be forgotten. So it’s no real surprise that the pair are back in each other’s orbit in the coming weeks as Ross tries to charm his way back into his ex lover’s bed.
But randy Ross isn’t waiting patiently for Debbie to give in to temptation and reignite their past passion. Not letting the grass grow under his feet, the buff Barton is reunited with another former fling, upper-class cougar Jools, next week, which ruffles the deadpan Ms Dingle’s feathers. Could Debbie be falling for him again? According to Charley Webb, her character is struggling to bury her true feelings.
“Debbie can usually put how she feels about Ross to the background quite easily,” she begins, “but they’ve been spending quite a lot of time together recently and I think some of her feelings have come to the surface a little bit more.
“I don’t think she can ever get rid of the attraction she has towards him, but I’m not completely sure she wants to. There’s always going to be that spark there, though funnily enough the stupid Ross who tries to be charming and annoying doesn’t wash with Debbie – it’s the other side of him, the side not many people see, that she’s more attracted to.”
The pair originally hooked up when Debbie was engaged to Ross’s brother Pete, providing the emotional backdrop to the epic helicopter crash of 2015 when Debbie and Pete’s wedding was wrecked by the revelation of the betrayal – and then literally destroyed by a helicopter crashing into the reception. Despite all this disaster, Webb believes it’s the tough times that have deepened the bond between the characters.
“They got together in a strange way because she was with his brother first. What they went through made it seem like they were a couple for a long time, even though it actually wasn’t that long. She knows things could get bad if they were together again so she knows not to go there – however, it doesn’t stop Debbie becoming jealous when Ross gets attention from someone else… “
So it’s hello again to temptress Jools, one of Ross’s old conquests who he convinces to hire out the Woolpack for a party next week as part of a joint new business venture with Debbie.
“Even though Debbie doesn’t always show her feelings, there is a jealousy there with Jools,” confesses Webb. “Debbie doesn’t want her around Ross so she tries to put the party off by using various excuses, but really it’s because of Jools.
“She can’t really expect Ross to be single – they’re not together so he can do what he likes, but Debbie’s jealousy starts getting in the way.”
The party does go ahead in next Tuesday’s hour-long episode, but underage drinking and Jools’s husband Roger turning up and picking a fight with Ross means the Dingle/Barton professional reunion quickly descends into chaos – what does that mean for potentially revisiting their romance?
“Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they got together again,” considers Webb. “It’s been a bumpy ride in the past when they’ve been a couple, but in some ways they can be quite good together. It’s not all been bad. And you can’t help who you fall in love with, can you?”
Webb’s genuine, sparky chemistry with co-star Michael Parr has made them a popular pairing, adding to the inevitability that writers will want to push the characters closer again. As Debbie and Ross shape up to be the next Charity and Cain in terms of ‘on again/off again’ frequency, Webb admits she enjoys the partnership – though somewhat grudgingly…
“I’ve known Mike for ages and we get on well. We know what the other one is going to do and we’re good at making the scenes work. He’s funny but he does like to wind me up – but I’m an easy target because I’m quite serious!
“There’s always something new going on with Debbie and Ross which makes it interesting to play, but as for them settling down and living happily ever after, I think it would be boring and a bit weird. Maybe it will be ‘will they won’t they’ for god knows how long, or they’ll get together every so often but not for very long. I think if one of them met someone else, that could be the thing to put an end to it…”
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