As fans of Emmerdale will know, shamed former Vicar Ashley Thomas is currently living rough on the mean streets of Hotten, and despite an offer of help and a roof over his head from Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower) Ashley feels he can’t live in the village anymore, and has subsequently disappeared.
Rodney and Ashley’s estranged wife Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) have been trawling the town looking for him, but so far have had no luck, however, John Middleton, who plays Ashley, has revealed to Soaplife that his character’s love rival Marlon Dingle is about to become Ashley’s unlikely benefactor.
Marlon (Mark Charnock) of course had a love affair – albeit a platonic one – with Laurel last year, and has always felt guilty over Ashley and what the relationship did to him, so when he hears Ashley has gone AWOL, he’s determined to find him…
John began by explaining that Ashley is absolutely devastated that Laurel wants a divorce, and that’s one of the reasons why he can’t bear to be in the village right now.
He said, “Well, he’s in denial about the divorce. He’s still desperately in love with Laurel and missing his family more than anything else.
“But he’s been totally rejected by her, his father and his daughter.
“He thinks there’s nothing in the village for him any more so he’s walking away from the world.
”He’s not at the brink of suicide, but what he is doing is abandoning life as he’s known it.”
And of Marlon tracking down Ashley, and offering him a place to stay at his house, John said, “While Ashley’s forgiven Laurel for the affair, he hasn’t forgiven Marlon.
“In Ashley’s mind, everything is Marlon’s fault, but he also regards himself as being justifiably punished because he’s brought this all on himself.”
John was then asked how Ashley would react if Marlon and Laurel were to reignite their affair, to which he replied, “That would be a terrible thing for Marlon to do – provide a haven for Ashley while having an affair with his wife.
“As it happens, though, Marlon’s talking about going to New Zealand, which would be a win-win situation for Ashley.”
And finally, when asked how Ashley’s storyline might resolve, John said, “It’s a very long journey and although I’ve had hints as to where he’ll end up, I don’t know.
“I don’t think it’s been decided yet. But we’re talking all the way to Christmas, with some new characters coming in.”