Since his shock return a few weeks ago, only the audience know that poisonous Pierce Harris (Jonathan Wrather) is back in Emmerdale and is responsible for the gruesome murder of Graham Foster (Andrew Scarborough) – but that all changes next week when the villain reveals himself to the villagers, starting with Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) who is stunned to see him abducting her young son.
“Vanessa and her little boy Johnny are having a kick-about out the back of the Woolpack and the ball goes missing,” says Hardwick, giving us a first taste of the action unfolding in Emmerdale‘s double bill on Thursday 13th February. “She goes off to find it, and is horrified when she turns round to see Pierce standing there holding Johnny.
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“Her blood runs cold – she knows what he is capable of. Pierce runs off and she runs after them…” Pierce has been lurking in the shadows since being released from prison, where he served two-and-a-half years for raping wife Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry). When Rhona’s protective beau secretly tracked him down and beat him up by way of a warning against reconnecting with his ex, controlling Pierce took umbrage and murdered him.
Believing he was protecting Rhona, viewers have see him creepily stalk Rhona as he plots a way they can be together again. A few days before he makes himself known to Vanessa, Pierce breaks into Home Farm and is caught by Al Chapman and Kim Tate who fail to recognise the disgraced lawyer, as they were not around when he lived in the locale up to his sentencing in 2017.
Managing to cover his tracks Mr Harris makes himself scarce and darts back into the wings, until confronting Vanessa and running off with her toddler. Obviously, there’s no love lost between this pair.
“They’ve got history,” explains Hardwick. “Vanessa took an instant dislike to Pierce as soon as she met him all those years ago. She could see his controlling ways before anyone else and tried to warn Rhona. Vanessa wonders if Pierce has come back to get revenge on her, is she in the firing line?”
Wrather has confirmed he is only back for a short stint, so expect the character to pack quite a lot in… “Everybody should watch their back with Pierce around,” warns Hardwick. “He made a few enemies before he went to prison, not just Vanessa but Paddy as well. Others could stand in his way.”
Of course it’s a different story off screen, and Hardwick is delighted to be reunited with co-star Wrather, who’s comeback was kept a secret from fans and cast alike.
“I thought it was a fantastic twist bringing Pierce back and it was all hidden in the scripts, nobody knew! There were code names and everything.
“I love having Jonny back, we have such a laugh on set especially when we’re with Zoe. It’s brilliant to see his face again.”
Another consequence of the Graham mess is the fact Vanessa’s fiancee Charity Dingle and stepson Ryan Stocks stole money from the deceased’s car the night he was killed. ‘Ness knows and is desperate for her girlfriend to tell the police, hoping it might help to get accused Marlon Dingle off the hook for the murder, but Charity is scared of getting implicated and wants to keep quiet.
The ‘Vanity’ wedding was cancelled the day Graham was bumped off, but with the couple at odds what are the chances of the girls walking up the aisle now?
“Who knows?” teases Hardwick. “I don’t think there is another wedding planned at the moment, I’m sure there will be one in the future maybe – but not right now. There is far too much going on!”
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