After being confronted by the man abused her all those years ago, Charity Dingle finally finds the strength to admit her past to Vanessa. Can she save Tracy in the process?  Emma Atkins reveals all…

Watching Tracy Metcalfe (Amy Walsh) trying to move on from her history as a sex worker causes Charity Dingle’s mind to race back to her own experiences. When DI Bails, a dangerous man from her past, returns to the village, Charity (Emma Atkins) reels. She’s stunned to hear he’s now working with Tracy and plans to do everything in her power to protect her friend.

Deciding she has no other option than to confront him, Charity faces her own fears and storms after Bails, the man who raped her when she was just 14. Is he the father of the secret son she is rumoured to have given up for adoption? Actress Emma Atkins reveals all…

How does Charity feel about seeing Bails again?
“Charity is completely freaked out when she sees him randomly on a news report. She doesn’t expect to see Bails and suddenly she realises he is the guy who is fronting this campaign to help vulnerable women – Tracy being one of them.

“Basically it’s all to help sex workers get the right kind of support. So, he’s certainly the wrong guy to be doing it because of the fact he’s got this dark past with Charity. Tracy doesn’t know this yet, but it reignites all the pain for Charity and as soon as she sees Bails’ face, she goes cold.”

What is it about Tracy’s situation that has made Charity reach out?  There’s a similarity between their pasts…
“Tracy has been going through this horrendous blackmail situation with Phil and it’s not dissimilar to what Charity has been going through in her past. She recognises it all and she fights for Tracy.

“Back then Tracy had no money and she did it for survival and she’s not proud of it but at the same time Charity tells her not to be ashamed about what she did in order to survive. David should be a support mechanism for her, not turning his back and if he’s in anyway ashamed he’s not the right guy for Tracy. So, she’s sort of being Charity and being feisty and it opens up all these wounds that the audience don’t really know about.  They know she had an illustrious past, but they don’t know how extreme the abuse was, it’s quite an intense storyline.”

What has it been like for Charity to be able to open up to Vanessa?
“I don’t think its an organic process. I don’t think she ever intended to tell anyone. It was like opening Pandora’s box. She had no intention of sharing that sort of information for anyone. But weirdly she finds that she connects to Vanessa and completely feels safe opening up to her and trusting her and it starts to kind of unravel organically thoughout one episode.

“There’s a book that hits a nerve with Charity – The Secret Garden – and as soon as she sees this book, it evokes so many memories and feelings and thoughts and it’s this wound that Charity had buried deep down. Vanessa touches on it and pushes gently but Charity blows a fuse and then it starts to come out.”

Charity’s being honest with Vanessa but why hasn’t she told Tracy her full story?
“I think the nature of the story is too delicate right now to discuss with anyone other than someone she’s really close to. Vanessa and Charity have grown very close, very quickly and it was very unexpected and very random, but there was trust between them and security.  She feels safe and I don’t think it’s the right time to tell anyone.”

Charity sees that Tracy and Bails are working closely together – she’s worried that Tracy’s in danger, isn’t she?
“Tracy has been asked by Bails if she will be the face of the campaign. Tracy’s so flattered and honoured to be part of such a wonderful project where they’re taking care of those sex workers, who have had little of no support. Tracy feels that Bails is this fantastic ally that she now has in the police, much to Charity’s dismay finding out that the guy that abused her years ago is in fact this sham, this liar.”

Bails pretends to be a nice, chatty man to Tracy, but then with Charity you really see how strong he is…
“And that is the beauty of Rocky Marshall and what a brilliant actor he is. I love working with him. He’s just a dream to work with and he’s so good. He doesn’t play the typical bad guy.  He has done such an intelligent performance and I’m just like wow. I think it’s going be brilliant because he’s so good at what he does.”

Charity manages to break up the meeting between Tracy and Bails, but he then tries to strike a deal with Charity.  She has a few decisions to make, hasn’t she?
“She has! Their initial conversation is in front of both Tracy and Vanessa and you can tell Charity is shaken by him. He leaves the house first and then she decides to go after him and talk, telling him to stay the hell away from Tracy. That’s when the audience sees his true colours.

“He manages to instil this insane amount of fear in Charity. He had it back then and he’s still got that power over her. You see that element of fear in her and maybe a little bit in Bails as well because he knows what a gobby character Charity is. Charity starts to say if you continue to pursue Tracy I will let everybody know my story. It’s very brave and he says, well nobody is going to believe your sordid little lies.

“There’s a stand off between them both and eventually Bails panics because this could come out and it’s not good for him, his job or his family. Little does Charity know that he’s a happily married guy now. He comes to her with the proposition in the Woolpack.”

Is it thrilling to have another layer of Charity?
“Yeah I think it will really shine a light on why Charity is the way she is and the way she behaves the way she does. It sheds a lot of light on why she’s so damaged. It’s lovely that it’s done with warmth. She reaches out to Vanessa for that comfort and security that she’s never really had with anyone else. It’s done in a delicate way. It’s been brilliant to play.



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