Shattered life: Charity's flashback episode

Emmerdale is to confront the painful and difficult subject of child abuse when a much loved character begins to open up about her troubled past.

Until recently Charity Dingle, played brilliantly since 2000 by Emma Atkins, has been one of life’s survivors. A tough, no-nonsense character used to shrugging off life’s disasters and moving on to the next scam or scrape with the law. Scheming has been her modus operandi as she’s struggled to raise her family, son Noah with Chris Tate and toddler son Moses with Ross Barton. Daughter Debbie flew the nest a long time ago and has followed in her mother’s footsteps for picking the wrong partners and attracting trouble.

Charity has never really showed her true feelings apart from her ill-fated relationships with Cain Dingle, but they were too alike to ever turn passion into a long-standing union. Love seemed to allude Charity until recently when she began a passionate affair with Emmerdale vet Vanessa Woodfield, played by Michelle Hardwick.

Although still one to tease and taunt Vanessa about their relationship, Charity appears to have found her match in Vanessa and has begun to open up to her partner about the abuse she suffered as a child. In a landmark episode which airs on 29 May we’ll flashback to the life of a young Charity, played by Mica Proctor, and witness the pain, heartbreak and confusion she felt as a girl.

It’s such a brilliant opportunity for me to explore Charity’s past and a chance to discover why Charity behaves the way she does a lot of the time. It’s stuff that’s been locked away for years, very painful stuff, and she finally feels able to talk about it. > > > The storyline is very serious in nature compared to the comedy I’ve done more recently so it is a wonderful challenge. The relationship between Charity and Vanessa is showing a different dimension to the usual gold digging Charity. It’s a love story and it’s breathing new life into my character, especially seeing her finally face up to her secret, dark past. > > > It’s obviously the hardest storyline I’ve had due to the subject matter and I am duty bound to play it as truthfully as I can. If it in any way helps give anyone out there who’s suffered any kind of abuse the strength to open up, even just to talk about it, then that can only be the start of a good thing.”

Emma Atkins, on discussing the flashback episode

Emmerdale has been supported throughout the research and preparation of Charity’s storyline by the team at North Yorkshire’s Rape Unit.

This is the third occasion that we have assisted Emmerdale with the storylines they have run around safeguarding and incidents involving victims of serious sexual crimes. They are so careful to ensure that they are portraying events correctly and providing the right information. They have always made sure the facts are correct and that victims can, and do get, the help and support they may need.

Spokesperson for North Yorkshire Rape Unit

Charity’s storyline has been produced by Emmerdale Series Producer, Iain MacLeod.

Charity is a character with a complicated, fascinating and heartbreaking history \- some of which has previously only been alluded to on screen. We wanted to do one of our signature, stylised episodes to fill in the blanks and explore the devastating, formative experiences she went through as a vulnerable teenager \- adding in a massive surprise for viewers in the process.

Iain MacLeod, Series Producer, on Charity's flashback episode

Stay tuned to see the heartbreaking past that has shaped Charity Dingle. In the meantime...

The British Soap Awards 2018 is now open for shortlist voting. Check out which categories we've been nominated in before you vote for Emmerdale on the British Soap Awards website

Best ActressEmma Atkins (Charity Dingle)

Best ActorMichael Parr (Ross Barton)Ryan Hawley (Robert Sugden)

Best British SoapEmmerdale

Voting closes at 9pm on Friday 25 May, so get your vote in!