The mysterious link between Emmerdale vicar Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton) and drug-addicted prostitute Dawn Taylor (Olivia Bromley) has finally been revealed, as the clergywoman’s past as an undercover copper caught up with her.
In dramatic scenes on Thursday 13 December, holy Harriet was rattled when dodgy Dawn recognised her and called her ‘Michelle’ in front of a confused Rhona Goskirk and Pete Barton. Brushing it off as a case of mistaken identity, the women later confronted each other in private and the truth about their shared past was explained.
Harriet was in a relationship with Dawn’s father Will as part of an elaborate sting to bust a drugs ring he was in charge of, but when he was arrested and the operation was over she was forced to walk away and abandon the little girl she had become a mother figure to. Dawn thought ‘Michelle’ had walked out, and only discovered she was a police officer in tonight’s episode, where she also revealed Will was dead…
“Harriet spent four years living with Will as ‘Michelle’ to expose his drug dealing,” explains Dow Blyton. “Dawn considered Harriet to be her mum so when Will was eventually convicted, she had to disappear. So Dawn was effectively orphaned which was the start of her downward spiral. It’s really sad. Harriet lived with them and acted as a mum then as far as this little girl was concerned she vanished off the face of the earth. Harriet is faced with a harsh reality and has a lot of making up to do.”
The added bombshell that Will subsequently died is another twist of the knife for Harriet, who Dow Blyton believes compromised her position by genuinely falling for the target of her sting. “She is heartbroken when Dawn tells her Will died. Even though she was pretending to be someone else the love was real, and she’d been tempted to try and track them down over the years. Harriet feels incredibly guilty.”
As the actress implies, the seeds for Dawn’s downfall were unfortunately sewn as a result of Harriet’s undercover antics, leading her along a dark path of drug addiction and prostitution – the character was introduced back in April as part of the bad crowd Ross Barton fell in with after his acid attack. Dawn also had her baby son Lucas taken by social services who declared her an unfit mother – does she blame Harriet for the way her life has turned out?
“Harriet understands how angry Dawn is,” continues Dow Blyton. “She will have to put up with a lot of guilt and I don’t think there will be an easy resolution to their relationship. She had no idea what happened to Dawn or that she went into care and ended up on drugs and working as a prostitute. To hear all of that is absolutely awful.
“She is going to try and make things right and do everything she can to help Dawn, and knows people who will be able to support her, but it’s definitely going to be a struggle. Dawn has a lot of problems, and a lot of anger!”
Dow Blyton is delighted to be delving into the crime-fighting vicar’s past. “Harriet has always hinted there was a reason she left the police but never really gone into it – now it’s all coming out. Interestingly, there was a similar case in real life where a male police officer spent time undercover and had a relationship with the person he was trying to bust. We’ve done a proper twist on that by making it a female officer.”
The star is also pleased to be back in focus after a quieter period for her alter ego, who’s last big storyline was the surprise romance with bad boy Cain Dingle. “Oh don’t talk about him!” she laughs. “Harriet has no family in the village, she’s on her own and hasn’t had anyone special in her life since Cain dumped her – I’m not over it! She gets support from God, that’s who she turns to. And communion wine… She doesn’t need Cain, she’s still got Jesus!”
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