Popular Emmerdale heroine Lydia Dingle (Karen Blick) will soon experience a traumatic plot development in which her erstwhile childhood friend Craig Reed (Ben Addis) will sexually assault her.
This narrative has been in the works for some months, with the programme consulting with Rape Crisis UK to construct it as sensitively and truthfully as possible.
Karen Blick remarked that it was difficult to comprehend what was about to happen after hearing about it.
“Please don’t do this to Lydia!” was her first thought, she recounted. “I felt very conflicted as an actor and quite protective of her as a character.”
Since Lydia is such a beloved character and is at the heart of the Dingle family, many fans will share Karen’s emotions.
Karen emphasised, “It’s a tale that needs to be told, but then this awful event happens to someone you are so connected to, and the consequences for that character moving forward.”
She said that when James Hooton, who portrays Sam, learned where the Craig and Lydia tale was headed, he had an equally intense response.
James was anticipating Lydia having an affair, Karen remarked. ‘Oh, I see where this is headed, he was thinking, and he was kind of shaking his head. You really don’t, James, I thought, but I refrained from saying anything.
The two of us were kind of smacked when Jane [Hudson, executive producer] stated, “And Craig rapes Lydia,” Karen said. It’s startling to learn this. I noticed James’s expression. We were both crying, eyes full of tears. It was a really emotional and powerful reaction—certainly the most powerful one I’ve ever had in response to a possible tale. James and I just hugged each other as we exited the meeting.
The entire team was committed to telling the narrative accurately. We want to handle this carefully, truthfully, and correctly since it’s a big topic, Karen remarked. She started by doing some background reading and was horrified to learn that one in four women have experienced sexual assault or rape.
This will not be a short-lived narrative that is easily forgotten, like earlier difficult storylines like Marlon’s stroke (Mark Charnock) and Paddy’s mental health problems (Dominic Brunt). We’ll follow Lydia’s journey as she comes to grips with what has happened and watch as the consequences for her and her family play out over an extended period of time.
Karen expressed her delight that Lydia would be able to overcome this trauma because Lydia’s rehabilitation is a crucial component of the plot.
‘I’m interested to see where Lydia goes, maybe with Rhona (Zoe Henry) and other villagers, where they can talk about their experiences and that also broadens the topic,’ she added.
Emmerdale is taking their time with this, so Lydia can’t expect it to immediately go away. There are long-lasting effects, but Lydia’s recovery should also be considered. She is a strong lady who, like many women, has endured a great deal in her life. How, with the aid and encouragement of whichever path she chooses, she manages to bring herself together after this.