Emmerdale‘s John Middleton reveals to Soaplife how vicar Ashley finally decides that confessing his sins against his father will be good for his soul… And how it turns out to be very bad for his marriage!

How guilty does Ashley feel about what he has done to Sandy?
“Ashley’s shocked himself by what he’s been capable of. He’s frightened himself. It goes against every grain of his being. The thing I’ve said often when people have talked about Ashley’s job is that it’s not just a job, it’s a calling, a vocation, and influences every part of his life. That life has now changed for ever – it’s shattered.”

Even Edna, his biggest fan, is disgusted by his behaviour…
“It will be difficult for him to cope with the reaction of anyone who knows what’s been going on. But it’s especially hard with Edna. She’s always been like a barometer for him on how the parishioners see him.”

Why is Ashley so concerned when Laurel tells him Rachel has told Diane?
“Because if Diane knows, everyone will before long and he knows he’s just a step away from social services being informed and him losing his career. Although Laurel can’t believe he is more worried about that than what he has been doing, it really is important to realise that this is Ashley’s life, not just a job.”

Then Sandy turns on Ashley. Why?
“It happens just before Ashley’s due in church and he’s worried who will be there. He reminds Laurel he forgave her when she did something wrong and Sandy snaps, voicing months of pent-up rage. Ashley is shocked by his dad’s outburst, but he knows he has it coming and has no defence.”

What makes Ashley confess to everyone in The Woopack?
“Edna tells him it’s wrong to get others to hide his shame and he takes her words to heart. In some ways it would have been easier to go to the police than stand up in front of the villagers. He feels this very public confession is the only way to move forward.”

But Laurel tells him they’re finished…
“Yes and he’s destroyed. This is the worst time of his life and he knows he’s brought it on himself.”

How does he end up being arrested on suspicion of assault?
“Edna calls the police and Sandy is actually angry with her. He feels it should all have been left in the family. Ashley tells the police he’s ready to co-operate fully.”

So what does the future hold for Ashley?
“I have no idea. But everything has changed for Ashley, I know that.”