Scheming businessman Tom announced tonight that he is in fact Joe Tate - son of the late Chris Tate and Rachel Sugden - and that Debbie is collateral damage in his plot to get revenge on Charity…

There was always something a bit sinister about Emmerdale’s Tom Waterhouse – and it turns out that his involvement with the golf course development is only the half of it. In tonight’s double bill, the handsome businessman admitted to a devastated Debbie that he is in fact Joe Tate – son of the late Chris Tate and Rachel Sugden – and he has been stringing her along as part of a plan to get revenge on Charity.

Actor Ned Porteous, who plays the ruthless millionaire, gives us the lowdown on his character’s shock secret…

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Did you know when you were cast in Emmerdale that “Tom Waterhouse” was actually Joe Tate?

“I did, yes. I remember the press junket I had to do when I first arrived; there was a lot of questions coming my way and I had to be like, ‘There’s not much I can say!’”

Have you had to lie to your family?

“I was pretty good at holding it from my family, because my mum is a notorious chatterbox. So the entire time, I was telling her there would be a twist. She’d ring me once a week, saying, ‘You can tell me, what’s the storyline?’ I told my dad but he forgot – twice!”

Tom turns up to turn Debbie's world upside down


Did you know about the history of the Tates when you were cast?

“Yes, bits and bobs. When I was auditioning, I did as much research as I could for the character. There was little they were giving me because a lot was embargoed – being a new actor to the show, there’s only so much they can give to you before you’re confirmed for it. So I did as much as I could.”

So why does Joe have such a vendetta against Charity?

“It started very early in his life, due to the fact he is under the assumption that Charity was behind the death of his father, and he’s carried this with him his entire life. He’s had this chip on his shoulder the whole time. He’s had his whole life to plan his big revenge, and this has been brooding his entire life. He was orphaned very young and has grown up the most part of his life with this. It’s been boiling and simmering until he finally manages to worm his way back in.”

Charity tries to explain to Joe what really happened

Why is he taking out his anger on Zak, Lisa and Debbie, too?

“In the time he’s been brooding over this revenge story, there has been a significant amount of collateral damage, and whether or not he realises he’s gone too far, that’s something that will come out later on and there’s an element of regret with what he’s doing. I think a lot of that is completely covered by his determination and drive to complete his goal.”

Does he have any feelings for Debbie?

“Definitely. I believe that. I think there’s a lot of Debbie which Tom finds endearing – her drive, her determination and her thick skin. I think he admires Debbie strongly. Whether he loves her or whether it’s an admiration, there’s definitely something. He does care for her. If it were to get to a point where it would get her directly in harm, I’d like to think that he wouldn’t push it past that. I don’t think he’s a monster. I just think he’s been so set on his path for so long now, maybe it gets a bit misconstrued. I want to think he’s a good person and sees the good qualities in Debbie.”

Debbie Tom Emmerdale

Do you think there’s a chance that Debbie could distract him from his scheme?

“That’s a good question. Possibly. The entire time he was with Debbie in the lead up to her finding out, there was an element that she had as well, where the wall was up and there were very few moments where he was completely himself. As you’ll know if you’re seeing someone, if you’re not really being yourself, you’re not letting your true feelings come out and manifest. Even if there were sparks of true feelings for her, I’m pretty sure he would’ve nipped them in the bud and stopped them from being a hindrance to his devious plan.”

Who has Joe grown up with?

“He spent the majority of the latter part of his life after he was a young teenager with Graham Foster, who he has a very interesting relationship with. They both helped each other at the start; they both kind of saved each other, which you’ll find out more as the story goes on. They develop a bond which is most unlike the others on the show. It’s very paternal but there’s also a business side to it. So mainly it’s been Graham who’s been the parental figure in his life. Before then, he moved to Australia after leaving England. Then he came back to England for boarding school. He’s pretty much been in boarding school his entire life.”

Where has Joe’s money come from?

“A lot of it was his inheritance from Chris Tate and a lot of it he built up himself. He’s got a very, very strong business mind. Through his business and through help with Graham, he has managed to turn his inheritance into a bit more than what it was.”

How much influence has Graham had in helping Joe form his plan?

“I think Graham represents the more peaceful morality of Joe, and checks him. Joe is in his very early 20s, so there’s a lot of boyish rage which comes out at times, and having an adult figure near him comes in handy. He trusts Graham. He’s one of the only people in the world that Joe trusts, so even though he might tell him that he’s wrong sometimes, he will definitely listen to him, so Graham has a huge effect on what Tom says and does.”

What has it been like, being the one to bring back the Tate name?

“It’s been a lot to take on, knowing you’re about to play a character who is ultimately going to be disliked by a lot of the other characters. But I can’t lie; I was really excited! I don’t want to call him a baddie; you need to believe that the character you’re playing has ultimately something in them that you can agree with, whether or not you would do the actions that the character would do. You need to find a part which you can love and completely understand, so that’s been really fun.”

How does it feel to be the son of someone who was quite hated, ie Chris Tate?

“It’s lovely! I can’t wait to walk around the streets of Leeds. I’m going to be wearing a hat and glasses for a while!”

Have you enjoyed all the speculation about your character?

“I love it – especially when a fan theory comes out that isn’t quite right. I try and stay away from it a little bit, because I don’t trust myself on Twitter. There was one I remember, my mum sent me a message saying ‘I found out what your secret is’ and I thought ‘How? Nobody else does.’ And she was like ‘You’re one of the Kings.’ I was like ‘OK, sure.’ I didn’t say yes or no. But it’s been interesting seeing some of the fan theories. There are so many people who adore the show so much. How they manage to remember certain bits and put things together has been fascinating.”

Does that mean it’s over for Tom – sorry, Joe – and Debbie?

“We don’t know. You’re going to have to stay tuned and find out.”