Emmerdale: “Charity flashback episode is the hardest thing I’ve ever done” reveals Emma Atkins

We'll find out the tragic truth about her past next week

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Emmerdale’s much-anticipated flashback episode exploring Charity Dingle’s tragic past hits our screens next week, and promises to deliver shocks and trauma galore.

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Showing on Tuesday 29 May, viewers will see Charity wracked with emotion when Harriet Finch brings up the subject of her dead baby boy, not realising Ms Dingle’s girlfriend Vanessa Woodfield has overheard. Desperate to help, Vanessa tries to get Charity to open up and even secretly digs for information on the child with Harriet’s help. However, will this just make the situation worse for Charity who has buried this chapter of her life for so long?

A Flashback to almost 30 years ago show what 14-year-old Charity, played by Mica Proctor, experienced when she was forced to be an underage prostitute and the extent of the abuse she suffered at the hands of corrupt police officer Mark Bails, who is now back in her life.

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“This episode was incredibly challenging and the hardest thing I’ve done on the show,” teases Emma Atkins, who has played fan favourite Charity since 2000. “But I’ve loved second of it, which I know sounds weird. It’s always great to be given something where there’s a whole host of things going on. You have to go to difficult places with such dramatic scenes, but it was great teamwork and stunning writing.”

Details of Charity’s story are being kept under wraps until transmission, but Atkins teases the idea of delving into her complex character’s past has been mooted for many years. “I was told it was all very dark and given little nuggets of information along the way, but when DI Bails came in a few years ago we knew there was history they’d be revisiting at some point. But then I left to have a baby and it was shelved for a bit. Now we’re finally revisiting it which is brilliant.”

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The audience will see Atkins share the screen with Proctor, the actress playing her younger self, and she’s full of praise for the performer. “She’s insanely brilliant and clever. Her eyes say it all. I watched her work and we connected very briefly, I was blown away by what I saw – she is brilliant.”

The episode comes a few months after a similar device was used to shed light on Cain Dingle’s past childhood with young actors playing Cain, sister Chas, mum Faith and dad Shadarch. Following the positive reaction to that, was Atkins lobbying for her own flashback?

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“I didn’t think of it that way,” she says. “I watched and was blown away, and I guess there are so many characters in the Dingle family whose past you could investigate. I felt so overwhelmed when they said they were going to do it. When I read the script I saw how beautifully executed it was – it’s a gift. I feel so lucky.”

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