Emmerdale Spoilers: What starts out as an act of kindness from Charity Dingle – yes you heard right – evolves into her worse nightmare when a face from her past brings haunting memories to the surface. Actress Emma Atkins explains why we’ll see a different side to Charity.
From the moment she arrived in Emmerdale some 18 years ago, former prostitute, small time criminal and all-round schemer Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) has always put herself first and foremost, only allowing a certain few to see the chinks in her armour.
But this week, girlfriend Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) gets a look behind the ballsy façade that Charity has been wearing for so long, when Charity confides a deep secret that will change the way we’ll look at her forever.
The nightmare begins when Charity offers her support to Tracy Metcalfe, Vanessa’s sister, as she attends the sentencing of her blackmailer Phil Webb. Not only does Tracy’s story resonate with Charity, but she also sees a blast from the past in the shape of DI Bails, the policeman who helped put her in prison in 2015 for perverting the course of justice.
Charity’s blood runs cold and, in Tuesday’s episode, she opens up to partner Vanessa about the abuse she suffered as a teen, which she has kept buried for almost 30 years.
Actress Emma Atkins, who was in the final year of a performing arts degree course at Salford University when she was cast in the role, beating Suranne Jones in the process, explains more to the various soap magazines about Emmerdale’s latest couple ‘Vanity’, her new storyline and Charity’s reaction.
How are things between Charity and Vanessa?
Well. Charity enjoys Vanessa’s company and words of wisdom. She’s really gone for it and I think as a result, we are seeing a softer side to Charity. She’s often been the unkind one in a relationship but has found herself being a bit nicer. She can’t believe it!
Why does she tell Vanessa her secret?
Charity is used to playing strange power games, but Vanessa has refused to do this. Nobody has spoken to her before the way that Vanessa does. In her she has found somebody genuinely kind and loving who she trusts enough to open up to.
What do you think about this new twist to Charity’s story?
It’s an amazing opportunity for me as an actress to be given something so brilliantly written. Charity’s secret is part of a double episode and it’s so delicately written. I am as nervous as hell as it’s delving really deeply into her history.
When our producer, Iain MacLeod, said we were going to revisit Charity’s past – or rather, visit it for the first time – that excited me, because I think it’s going to reveal why Charity behaves the way she does.
What happened to her makes sense to me, and the writer, Maxine Alderton, is brilliant. She knows how to go to a place in someone’s past without it seeming corny. It’s extremely sensitively written.
How difficult will it be for Charity now she has told Vanessa her secret?
Put it this way, it’s not as if it comes out in one episode and then it’s dealt with. It’s an ongoing trauma for Charity. I knew she had an ugly past, but I didn’t know how bad it was. It explains why she pushes people away and does catastrophic things.
Charity has this front where she puts on her glad rags and gets behind the Woolpack bar, so to peel the layers off and show a side of shame and guilt… it’s so far removed from what I’ve been doing over the past few years, where I’ve brought a lot of humour to the show. I wanted to pitch it perfectly, and I worked hard to do it justice.
Would you like Charity’s relationship with Vanessa to continue?
It would be a shame for it not to have some purpose or meaning. I think Charity is shocked by how deeply her feelings run for Vanessa. She thought it was a bit of fun, but she is really loving her company. She has put men on hold for the time being. None of her relationships have worked, but this has really sprung up from nowhere.
But it affects her and Vanessa’s relationship, because Vanessa thinks, ‘what do I do with this information?’ And Charity’s like “You keep it to yourself.” Meanwhile, Bails is still in her periphery, and we’ll see that this is a person who can put fear into Charity like no one else can.
What has it been like to film?
It’s the most challenging episode I’ve ever done. You have to dig deep to convey that emotion. I look at very personal places in my own life. I put my headphones on so that I can zone out from any distraction on set, and that helps me get to where I need to be.
How does Charity react once she’s finally verbalised her secret?
There are some episodes where Charity gets emotional, and other episodes where she withdraws back into herself. That’s what Charity does best – when the proverbial hits the fan, she’s in denial.
Charity’s in turmoil, because she wants justice, but she knows in order to get it, she’s going to have to reveal things that she never wanted to say out loud. Deep down, I think she will have to stand up to what she knows is a terrible ordeal.
Will it cause a change in Charity?
It will be interesting to see if she’s moved in the sense that she makes positive changes to her personality. But not too many changes, I hope. I love her. She’s a pain in the neck, but she’s harmless. Well I say that, but she’s not remotely, is she? I can’t defend her, but I think this story will finally explain why she’s such a little tyke.
As for that first Emmerdale audition 18 years ago?
I remember when I got the audition, I thought I want this job so badly! But everyone else there had long hair, and I had a short peroxide cut, so I assumed I was the wild card and had no chance!