Emmerdale fans spent all week trying to work out which villager had the best motive to murder Graham Foster as the soap's whodunnit ramped up to the big reveal, but the killer was a complete curveball when it was confirmed to be Pierce Harris, abusive ex of Graham's girlfriend Rhona Goskirk.
Pierce was jailed in 2017 for raping his wife but his eligibility for parole was briefly mentioned on screen in December - Emmerdale had deliberately played it down and distracted viewers towards a host of other potential murderers to ensure maximum shock value when the homicidal Mr Harris was shown holding that big log.
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After Friday 24th January's audacious jumps back and forth in time that saw Graham secretly find Pierce and beat him up to deter him from coming back into Rhona's life, we now know why Pierce bumped off the man in black. "He wants to rescue Rhona," says Jonathan Wrather, returning as the sinister former lawyer. "Pierce knows he has been violent, coercive and abusive on an emotional level but he can see Graham is a danger to her.
"In his mind he wants to save her from a poor decision, like she made with him. Pierce is on a moral crusade of sorts and sees himself as a knight in shining armour.
"For him the murder is justifiable," continues the actor, who also played Corrie's Joe Carter back in 2002. "Rhona was going to France with this man and he had to save her. That's how he computes it and deals with the situation in his conscience, although that's pretty skewed. He believes he's changed her life for the better."
Ironically, it was Graham secretly tracking Pierce down after his release and warning him to stay away that brought about Mr Foster's violent demise. "Graham was effectively the catalyst for his own end," says Wrather. "Pierce felt judged and humiliated by Graham, he felt he didn't have the right to do that when he was genuinely trying to get his life back on track.
"Pierce had no intention of contacting Rhona after prison, he was just getting on with his life. Graham should have let this go."
Asked if he had any hesitation about revisiting his dark alter ego, and the intense subject matter, Wrather says it was a "no brainer" when he was approached by Emmerdale last year.
"I was thrilled to be asked because I had such a good time when I was there before. The producers couldn't quite tell me everything so I had to eek out as much information as I could, so it was something of a leap of faith. They told me Pierce would be much worse that's time round - and murder is pretty bad!"
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