For far too long Emmerdale vicar Harriet Finch has been wasted in the background, only appearing when divine intervention is needed. The Emmerdaily contributor @IShipVanity explains why intertwining Harriet’s past with Dawn Taylor is one storyline to watch in 2019.

Thurs 13 Dec 2018 – 8pm: Harriet Finch pales as Dawn’s confronts her about their shared past. What is Harriet’s secret?

For some characters their past is mapped out for the audience to see, while for others little is known. Village vicar Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton) is firmly in the later category, with only snippets of her past life as a Police officer known. That was until recently when Emmerdale creatives decided to drop a huge bombshell in bringing former drug addict/prostitute Dawn Taylor (Olivia Bromley) into the fray, intertwining two characters who on paper seem poles apart in dramatic fashion. 

Harriet has always been resolute in her drive to help people and sometimes overstepping the blurred boundaries. Dawn on the other hand has been on a path to self-destruction, lacking in self-esteem and worth. It came as a shock to finally have the answers to why Harriet cannot hold down a relationship and why Dawn is as flawed as she is.

Whilst working as an undercover police officer on an operation, Harriet fell in love with her target Will, Dawn’s father and became her ‘mother’ figure. Will’s arrest and subsequent conviction, saw Harriet or Michelle as she was known devastatingly cutting ties with Dawn, despite the child she considered her daughter facing the care system, and did not go back for her or to explain her actions.

Emmerdale's Dawn Taylor played by Olivia Bromley
Emmerdale’s Dawn Taylor played by Olivia Bromley

Dawn spiralled into a drug fuelled life and eventually gave birth to her son Lucas, who was taken into the same care system she faced as a child. When her father passed away, Dawn lost everything and her sense of safety that went with it. It explains why guilt ridden Harriet is trying to save everyone to ease her pain and still making mistakes along the way. 

In part it was a master-stroke bringing Dawn and Harriet together, to finally give the village vicar that much needed back story and to delve deeper into why Dawn is so flawed all in one foul swoop. It’s carefully crafted narrative does not feel unbelievable and makes sense to why both characters have turned out like they have done.

Dawn is unable to trust and wary of any help turning to drugs and prostitution to both make ends meet and feels devalued as a human being because the one person she trusted left her. While Harriet, by falling in forbidden love with her target while undercover, is guilt ridden in later life and unable to find true love and acceptance. The characterisation of the two feels spot on and already feels engaging to watch. 

Moving forward into the new year, there are hugely intriguing questions posed. How will the village react to Harriet’s past decision to abandon Dawn at time of her greatest need? How can the two reconcile? How is Dawn going to cope with the latest in a long line of reminders of her past?

Fri 28 Dec 2018: Harriet Finch wants to track down Dawn. Will Ryan succeed in helping to find her?

From what is known Dawn goes down a very dark path, more so than she has faced in the past. Harriet, joined by Ryan Stocks (James Moore), track Dawn down to a rough part of town where they face off with her pimp in a bid to take her back to the village. It’s really hard not to find sympathy as a viewer for Dawn’s struggle and how Harriet will seemingly be the one who wants to help her ‘daughter’ back from the brink.

That facet of the storyline is really interesting and defining for both. Many detractors were vocal in why Emmerdale creatives brought back Dawn, and I for one hope they are eating a hefty slice of humble pie right about now. Olivia and Katherine work so fantastically together drawing you into their secret world, I would have felt cheated out of a great story if the Emmerdale creatives didn’t go down this road. 

And Emmerdale has a successful history of introducing female characters that have had it rough and are not necessarily instantly likeable but then embedding them into the village – Chas and Charity Dingle, Kerry Wyatt, and Tracy Shankley to name a few all started that way – and it looks the same for Dawn Taylor given she’s going to be a regular character going forward. We can’t wait to see more of her in 2019.

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