Emmerdale‘s John Middleton talks to Soaplife about how Ashley is prepared to flip burgers as penance for abusing his father, but he can’t face losing his family..

Is Ashley surprised by the way Laurel’s reacting?
“He did a terrible thing to his father, but she’s shut him out completely. Ashley still believes that he’ll be forgiven if he tries hard enough. He doesn’t understand that this isn’t going to happen.”

And Gabby’s scared to be with him…
“He’s devastated by that. Laurel’s restricting his access to Gabby and Arthur and this lack of contact with his children is what he’s finding most dreadful about the situation.”

He takes a job in a burger bar to provide for his family, doesn’t he?
“It’s bizarre because the clergy is all he’s ever known. He’s keeping up a pretence that he’s doing something equivalent to his job in the Church, but of course he isn’t. He’s flipping burgers. Ashley’s deeply ashamed of what he’s been reduced to. But at the same time he realises he’s brought it all on himself.”

Then he starts stealing bread rolls from the burger bar. Why?
“Well, the rolls are being thrown away, anyway, and to Ashley this is just plain wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the rolls and Ashley knows the homeless would be grateful for them.”

But he gets the sack for it – in front of Laurel!
“It’s awful. Laurel finds out where he’s working and goes to confront him, just as he’s being sacked. He’s completely humiliated. Later in the pub he sees Laurel come out from the back and accuses her of crying on Marlon’s shoulder. She says, ‘How dare you!’ and he explodes. He’s dreadfully hurt. Laurel’s thing with Marlon was the catalyst for all this.”

Is this rock bottom for him?
“Pretty much. He’s skint, virtually homeless and he runs out of money to pay for Sandy’s care. And he doesn’t know his way around the welfare system.”

What if Laurel resumes her relationship with Marlon?
“Ashley will be shattered. He’s trying to put his family back together. But if it happens he’d accept that was it, that he’s lost her.”