Emmerdale’s Charity Dingle confronts her abuser DI Mark Bails next week and threatens to expose the corrupt cop’s true colours, only to receive a surprising proposition from the police officer that throws her into a spin.
Charity confessed to girlfriend Vanessa Woodfield last week her shocking past with Bails, revealing he groomed and sexually abused her when she was a teenage prostitute forced into sex work and he was a young policeman. The rape was reported but covered up within the force and Charity had never discussed the incident with anyone until now.
“She had no intention of sharing that information with anyone but finds she connects to Vanessa and feels safe opening up to her,” reveals Emma Atkins, who plays Charity. “This is a wound buried deeply away, and once Vanessa touched on it Charity blew a fuse.”
But there was more to her ordeal teased to viewers when the pub landlady was seen privately looking through a keepsake box full of newborn baby clothes and toys, suggesting Charity may have fallen pregnant as a result of the rape.
Next week, Charity comes face to face with Bails when he comes to the village to talk to Tracy Metcalfe about working on an awareness campaign about stamping out sexual exploitation. “Tracy has been blackmailed about her own past as a prostitute and is honoured to be a part of this project where they are providing support to sex workers, and she feels Bails is a fantastic ally,” continues Atkins. “Charity knows he’s an abuser, a liar and him helping these women is a total sham.”
Concerned Mrs Metcalfe could be in danger, Charity interrupts their meeting and Bails makes his excuses and leaves swiftly, confusing Tracy. Later, Charity musters up the courage to privately warn Bails off – but his response is surprising.
“You can tell Charity is shaken by Bails when they first see one another, then she goes after him and tells him to stay the hell away. That’s when the audience sees how he instills this insane amount of fear in Charity. He was able to do it back then and still has that power over her.
“Charity tells him if he continues to pursue Tracy, she will let everybody know her story. It’s very brave of her and he fronts it out by claiming no one will believe her sordid little lies. There’s a stand-off but they’re both on the backfoot – Bails knows how gobby Charity is and panics if she blabs it could ruin his reputation and his life.”
Bails eventually comes to Charity in the Woolpack and makes a proposition which causes her jaw to drop – what kind of a deal is he offering in exchange for her silence? Atkins is staying quiet on the details, but is full of praise for Rocky Marshall’s performance as Bails, a role he’s reprising after the cop was first seen investigating an attack on Lachlan White back in 2014, when his history with Charity was first teased.
“We’d worked together before and I’m loving him being back. He’s just a dream and doesn’t play the typical bad guy, he’s giving such an intelligent performance.”
The response to Charity’s past being explored has been huge so far, as the layers of the character’s hard exterior are slowly peeled away, which Atkins believes sheds new light on her spiky alter ego. “It’s shining a light on why she’s the way she is and explains her behaviour. She’s quite damaged but the storyline has warmth there, the way she reaches out to Vanessa for the comfort and security she’s never had with anyone else has been done in a delicate way.
“It’s been brilliant to play, Charity’s past is very ugly and shocking. I’m as surprised as anyone the relationship with Vanessa has led to this, as I didn’t think it would work at first to be honest. It seemed like Charity would be a vehicle to bring out Vanessa’s sexuality as a flash-in-the-pan fling but the writers saw something and went with it.”
With the full extent of Charity and Bails’ history to be explored, and the fact there may have been a baby involved, will Charity be prepared to stay silent in the face of her abuser’s proposition? Will he try to pay her off? Or threaten something more sinister?
Visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.