Ever since Mandy Dingle returned to the village 14 months ago with her ‘son’ Vinny the pair have kept Emmerdale fans guessing as to the big secret of his true identity. In the end it was the lad himself who cracked in the wake of the family rift over Samson pawning his dead mum Alice’s wedding ring to afford a school trip to France.
Tuesday 17th March’s episode saw Vinny (Bradley Johnson) tell a stunned Sam, Samson and Lydia the truth and admit he could never be a Dingle as hard as he might try. With the cat out of the bag it was left to Mandy (Lisa Riley) to explain how the child came into her life after she started dating a fella called Paul.
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“He was nine months old when I first clapped eyes on him,” said Mandy. “He was screaming the street down in his soiled onesie. I looked into his pram and I just knew. I knew that someone had to look after him.”
Not one to hang about Mandy moved in with Paul a week after their first date. Life was good for the new ready-made family until Paul landed himself in trouble. As things spiralled out of control the feckless dad walked out on Mandy and his son two days after the infant started school.
As Mandy had no legal rights to adopt the child she faced the choice of either putting Vinny into care or becoming his mother – “the mum he never had”. The decision to do the latter has left her covering their tracks ever since. At one point Paddy Kirk (Dominic Brunt) even believed that Vinny might be his.
It also raises intriguing questions that the soap will doubtless explore further down the line. Mandy explained that Vinny had a nan who died but there is still an uncle that he has barely seen knocking about somewhere out there waiting for a storyline and, more importantly, Vinny’s biological mum is as far as we know still alive.
For now though it’s enough that the lie is no more and that Vinny’s acceptance into the clan has begun. Or as Sam Dingle (James Hooton) put it, “Welcome t’ family, Vinny Dingle.” He’ll be supping ale from a wellington boot down The Woolpack before you know it.