Emmerdale 2021 preview: 10 spoilers for the new year ahead

The lowdown on the year ahead, including Debbie Dingle's shock return.

Emmerdale 2021 preview

Murder, marriage and mayhem brought the year to a close in Emmerdale, now the villagers must navigate 2021 and it appears there’s no respite in the drama.

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Old faces including Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) return, new faces antagonise the locals, and relationships are pushed to breaking point as dark secrets are exposed.

Here is RadioTimes.com‘s epic preview of the soap’s biggest storylines for the next 12 months.

Debbie’s shock return

debbie dingle emmerdale

Christmas Day’s big reveal that Debbie Dingle is the mystery lover of Al Chapman (Michael Wildman) sets the scene for the return of one of the show’s most popular characters. Last seen moving to Scotland in August 2019 (accommodating Webb’s maternity leave for her third baby), fans now know Al’s off-screen visits north of the border has resulted in a clandestine affair. The suave businessman is also engaged to Priya Kotecha (Fiona Wade) but neither she or Deb have any idea he’s juggling both of them. Surely it’s only a matter of time before Deb returns to the village and her fella’s double infidelity is exposed – and we all know you don’t cross a Dingle lady…

Priya’s revenge

On the flip side, the truth about Al’s fling will come as a huge shock to pampered princess Priya, who thinks she’s found her perfect prince. How would she react to the news Mr Chapman has been cheating for months, and with someone she knows? Could posh Priya bring her feisty side to the fore and fight for revenge, or to keep her man? Or might it send her to complete rock bottom?

Second chance for Marlon and Rhona

emmerdale rhona goskirk marlon dingle

His BFF Paddy Kirk (Dominic Brunt) got a happy ever after with Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) over Christmas, now Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) is hoping 2021 delivers some romance as he gets closer to old flame Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry). The pair bonded over their reaction to Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy) discovering her unborn baby had Down’s syndrome, and subsequent decision to terminate the pregnancy. United by their love for son Leo, who also has the condition, the co-parents are tentatively rekindling their relationship. Can Paddy help matchmake his mates?

Harriet’s big mistake

Relations between Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton) and Dawn Taylor (Olivia Bromley) are tense enough after they murdered corrupt cop DI Malone and buried his body. The girls’ shaky bond is tested further as we start 2021 when the spiralling vicar causes serious problems for her fragile stepdaughter, that has major repercussions for her relationship with son Lucas.

Newcomers cause a stir

Charles and Ethan

New vicar Charles Anderson (Kevin Mathurin) soon becomes another thorn in harassed Harriet’s side as he airs concerns a grave has been disturbed. Can she put him off the scent after the last near-miss? Charles welcomes his lawyer son Ethan Anderson (Emile John) to the village, but the boys clash with the Dingles and spell trouble for another village family. Welcome to the neighbourhood…

Mandy learns the truth?

Producers promise another huge chapter for the Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley), Vinny Ashdale (Bradley Johnson) and Paul Ashdale (Reece Dinsdale) saga for the new year. “It will be one of our big stories in 2021, and lives are definitely going to be changed forever,” teases Shaw. Christmas saw volatile Paul unleash another violent attack on his scared son – how far is he prepared to go in order to protect his gambling secret?

Laurel and Jai struggle to move on

laurel jai emmerdale

Talking of Laurel, her and Jai’s controversial abortion dilemma will continue to haunt them in the new year. “Their story does not end with the termination,” says producer Laura Shaw. “They will feel the effects of their decision for quite a lot of 2021.” Both are recovering addicts, and this is a trauma so huge it may well drive them back into bad old habits…

Kings in crisis

Nicola King (Nicola Wheeler) and Jimmy King (Nick Miles) took a different direction in 2020 by investing in the cafe, putting them a at the heart of the community – and the gossip! But the bickering couple are about to be dealt a curveball: “Jimmy and Nicola will get a really big shock in the new year,” says Shaw. “It results in their whole lives being turned upside down…” A surprise baby? The return of a long-lost relative? A devastating health diagnosis? Place your bets now.

Joe Tate returns?

emmerdale joe tate

There are power shifts in store at the village’s most sought-after location in 2021, as the tyrannical Tates are forced to adapt to unexpected changes, according to Shaw: “We have some really exciting things planned for Home Farm and we’ll see a slightly more vulnerable Kim Tate (Claire King). There’s a change in Tate family dynamic – could there be a new heir to the throne? I can’t say!” Spoilsport. But does this mean a secret or estranged Tate is about to come creeping out of the woodwork? Is this the return of Joe Tate fans have been waiting for – especially with old flame Debbie also back on the scene? Watch this space…

Victoria’s secrets

It was a long road to romance for Victoria Barton (Isobel Hodgins) and Luke Posner (Max Parker), but the young mum seems to have settled down and found happiness with the brother of the man who raped her. If this all sounds a bit too cosy, rest assured the pair are in for some trying times. “More secrets will be revealed between them,” promises Shaw. “They will have a big impact on their relationship going forward…”

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