Emmerdale has announced a special episode featuring a flashback to Charity Dingle’s teenage years as the character confronts the abuse she suffered in her troubled past.
The tough-talking landlady has recently opened up to girlfriend Vanessa Woodfield about how she was forced into prostitution as a child and being groomed and abused by corrupt police officer Mark Bails. A hard-hitting instalment airing on Tuesday 29 May will take viewers back in time to show a young Charity, played by Mica Proctor, and reveal the pain, confusion and heartbreak she experienced.
“This is the hardest storyline I’ve had due to the subject matter and I am duty bound to play it as truthfully as I can,” said Emma Atkins, who has played Charity since 2000 and has recently been shortlisted as Best Actress in this year’s British Soap Awards.
“Exploring Charity’s history is a brilliant opportunity to discover why she behaves the way she does,” she continues. “It’s very painful stuff that has been locked away for years and she finally feels able to take about it. Her relationship with Vanessa has shown a different dimension to the usual gold-digging Charity, and she is finally facing up to her secret, dark past.
“If the storyline helps give anyone out there who’s suffered any kind of abuse the strength to open up, even just to talk about it, then that can only be the start of a good thing.”
Emmerdale’s research team have worked with North Yorkshire’s Rape Unit on the gritty storyline to ensure the topics of sexual crimes and safeguarding are tackled sensitively.
The soap’s series producer Iain MacLeod, who will soon be leaving his role to succeed Kate Oates in the Coronation Street producer’s chair, commented: “We wanted to do one of our signature stylised episodes to fill in the blanks of Charity’s fascinating and heartbreaking history and explore the devastating, formative experiences she went through as a vulnerable teenager – adding in a massive surprise for viewers in the process.”
Does the ‘massive surprise’ MacLeod teases allude to the speculation Charity may have fallen fallen pregnant as a result of being raped by Bails, suggested in a recent scene where she silently took out an old storage box full of baby clothes and toys? Is there a love child out there somewhere, or could the teenage Charity have been forced into an abortion?
Playing with the usual format to wind back the clock proved successful for Emmerdale last year when they flashed back to Cain Dingle’s traumatic childhood in the wake of his and Moira’s son Isaac’s surprise birth. The episode is now nominated as Best Single Episode in the British Soap Awards.
Visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.