Zoe Henry says she believes her character Rhona consented to sex in Emmerdale's recent controversial scenes.
In two of the soap’s recent episodes – broadcast on January 4 and January 26 – Pierce was seen pinning Rhona to the floor. Subsequent scenes then implied that the couple had had sex and showed Rhona visibly shaken, with the latter episode also showing that her dress had been torn.
Zoe said: “Nothing was shown on camera, but in my mind, she did consent, even though she wasn’t in the mood.”
She added: “Our producer, Iain McLeod, wanted this to be something people talked about, with some people going ‘I thought that was perfectly acceptable’ and others saying ‘Are you joking? That is not acceptable at all!’ And that’s kind of what we got.”
Rhona and Pierce began a relationship last year, not long after discovering that their respective spouses, Paddy and Tess, had been having an affair. Viewers have since seen Pierce become increasingly controlling and manipulative.
Zoe, 43, who is married to co-star Jeff Hordley – better known as Cain Dingle – said she wouldn’t put up with a man like Pierce in real life, but acknowledges that her alter-ego is in a different mind-frame.
“When you’re in the eye of the storm you never really get it,” she said. “Rhona and Pierce have got a total connection, sexually and emotionally, and they get on brilliantly. She has to manage his emotions, and she thinks that’s a small price to pay, because she can’t cope with the thought of another relationship going wrong.
“I’ve been with Jeff for 20 odd years, but before that, I’ve had a few boyfriends. I look back now, to when I was a young, 17-year-old, and I was in relationship that I find laughable that I put up with. But I was in a different place, with a different mindset.
‘That’s what I have to think about with Rhona. She’s putting up with something that in her right frame of mind – when she’s strong and happy like she was two years ago – she wouldn’t put up with.’
Next week, Pierce proposes to Rhona again on her suggestion. Read about that development here.