Emmerdale star John Middleton says fans won’t like Vicar Ashley Thomas now!

As Emmerdale viewers will know, in last night’s episode, Ashley Thomas’s wife Laurel got her first hint that her husband was being cruel and abusive to his elderly dad Sandy, who’s played by Freddie Jones.

But in upcoming episodes, Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) is going to see Ashley abusing his dad first hand, and on doing so, the lives of the Thomas’ will be irrevocably changed…

John Middleton, who of course plays the Vicar, has told Lorraine Kelly’s viewers that when the full extent of his character’s cruelty is revealed, fans of the show aren’t going to like Ashley any more.

And of how viewers have received the storyline, John said, “The reaction has been quite varied.

“A lot of people my age tell me anecdotally of people they know who are saying their mum and dad are driving them up the wall…

“So it is being discussed, but it’s being discussed in a very, very hidden way.

“No-one’s coming out and saying, ‘Look, I feel this about my mum, I feel this about my dad’.

“If there’s one thing I want to get across with this story, it’s that if you find yourself driven to the awful position that Ashley finds himself driven to, talk to someone well before you get there.

“I think there’s this view in the country that if you dare to go to social services, you’ll somehow be in trouble or they’ll prosecute you for something.

“It’s not the case – they’re principally there to help, not to prosecute. Every professional I’ve spoken to about this says exactly the same thing.”

And of the formerly mild-mannered Ashley, John said, “I don’t think [viewers] are going to like him from now on, and quite justifiably so.

“Yes, Ashley has been under all sorts of pressures, and as an actor you look into that mentally. But it doesn’t condone in any way what he’s done.

“If Ashley had been more sensible, he’d have spoken to somebody.

“He’d have spoken to Laurel, but he’s terrified of doing that because he wants to make everything perfect for her.

“He would have spoken to his friend Jude, or he would have spoken to the woman who came round from social services.”

What do you think about this storyline? Is it plausible that Ashley would behave this way or do you find it somewhat incredible?

And of course, don’t miss tonight’s show when poor Laurel finally sees for herself what Ashley’s capable of.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.