Charity Dingle’s long-lost son Ryan Stocks returns to Emmerdale next week and agrees to give his mum another chance at building a relationship – but ends up unexpectedly bonding with his parent’s ex, local bad boy Ross Barton! What mischief will he lead Ryan into?
Meeting his biological mother for the first time recently, Ryan reeled at discovering he was conceived as a result of Charity being raped while forced into underage sex work as a homeless teenager, and promptly cut off contact. Luckily for Charity, Ryan’s adopted mum Irene reckons it’s time they tried again.
“Charity feels a strong connection to Ryan,” says Emma Atkins, who plays her. “They have great chemistry but Irene is worried how Charity’s past will affect Ryan emotionally. They come to the pub but Ryan realises she is still keeping him a secret from the rest of the Dingles…”
This means the reunion doesn’t exactly get off to a flying start from Ryan’s point of view, as James Moore, who plays the estranged son, explains: “There are many conflicting issues in the way, but Charity and Ryan do want to reconnect and get to know each other. He’s also caught in the middle between Irene and Charity which puts him under pressure. He doesn’t want to upset anyone.”
As things get heated in the Woolpack, Ross Barton clocks Ryan staring and squares up to him, ready for a confrontation from this new face in his local. But the bravado soon turns to banter between the boys, and an unlikely friendship is quickly formed…
“They click immediately as they have a similar sense of humour. It’s a bit like Ryan and Charity in that they both take the mickey out of each other, there’s that instant bounce. Ross isn’t expecting it and it becomes a very interesting dynamic.”
Ryan ends up going back to Ross’s place where they break out the booze and put the world to rights, while Charity panics about the consequences of one of her baby daddys swapping notes with her secret son! “Charity is beyond worried when they hit it off,” grins Atkins, “because she has a child with Ross she hasn’t even explained to Ryan yet. When they’re talking in the pub she’s trying to listen in to what Ross is telling him, walking past pretending to collect glasses. Ross loves getting the upper hand with Charity.”
Ross tries to set Ryan up with a punter in the pub, and the identity of the person in question causes a ‘sticky situation’ for Charity… The potential for lighter moments in Ryan and Charity’s interaction among the dark backstory will continue to be mined, reflecting the crackling chemistry between Moore and Atkins, to the delight of both actors.
“They egg each other on,” says Atkins. “He gives her as good as he gets, there is such a spark. From the minute James and I first ran lines together I knew this would be something special.”
“I think both characters could be a bad influence on one another,” continues Moore. “Whenever we’re on set together there’s plenty of laughs. We’re not that much different off screen as we are on!”
Ryan, and Moore, both have cerebral palsy, and the actor praises Emmerdale for representing people with disabilities in his high-profile role. “I think it’s fantastic the show is hiring disabled actors to play disabled characters, and trans actors like Ash Palmisciano to play trans characters, it really helps us as actors bring the most to our role because we have that experience. We have the knowledge and truth to connect to our characters and give it a fresh angle.”
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