It's all getting very hot under the dog collar in Emmerdale as local vicar Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton) finds herself drawn back to corrupt cop Mark Bails (Mark Womack), betraying fiancee Will Taylor (Dean Andrews), himself a former crime boss. What is it about bad boys that keeps attracting the woman of the cloth?
"Let's face it, there's not a great deal of choice in that village!" laughs Blyton. "She thinks maybe she can save them and put them on the right road. Harriet is doing a sort of public duty, I feel…!"
Menacing Malone has made Emmerdale a base for his illegal operations, and has involved a reluctant Will and Cain Dingle (incidentally, another of Harriet's roguish exes), but the romantic history between him and Harriet from her days as an undercover police officer is the real reason he's still hanging around. Try as she might, the holy lady can't resist the danger…
"Harriet has never had a family unit and she loves Will's daughter Dawn and her little son Lucas," continues Blyton. "She wants that settled life, but is fooling herself trying to make it work and pretend the thing with Malone never happened.
"Will also also lied to her constantly," she defends. "That's broken the trust in the relationship. He doesn't seem able to be honest."
As Harriet and Malone have a clandestine meeting in the church, causing her to miss a meeting with the bishop in the Woolpack, the stage is set for the fling to be exposed next week when Moira Dingle rumbles them - how long before others find out?
"Quite rightly Harriet's friends and parishioners will be a little disappointed in her, and that's fair enough because she's having an affair with a bent copper. And she's battling already because they took a while to accept Will after he tried to murder her with a coffin!"
Harriet begs Moira to keep quiet, not wanting the news spread across the community. Can she protect her saucy secret? Blyton hopes not!
"I'm looking forward to it all coming out, it's going to be very dramatic. Before we stopped for lockdown we were at the beginning of the ride up the roller coaster of this storyline, it'll be good to get the momentum going again so we can start screaming as it gets faster!"
Admitting her character is playing with fire, Blyton still has sympathy for her predicament and inner torment.
"I always say she's a saint, not a vicar, so she does make mistakes. She strives to do the right thing and see the best in people, and is foolish rather than malicious. I can tell you she'll be praying all the time for guidance. Her faith is so important to her, but she's also just being human."