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John Middleton: Dales plot is serious issue

John Middleton, an English actor well known for his part in ITV’s Emmerdale as Reverend Ashley Thomas, has said that the latest twist in his Emmerdale storyline tackled an important issue.

Earlier this month, viewers saw unstable Sally Spode (Siân Reeves) drugging Middleton’s character Ashley Thomas at his home before leading him upstairs to spend the night with him.

In an interview with “This Morning”, the actor explained that the dark moment marked a crucial turning point in the plot, which has seen Sally scheming against Ashley & his wife Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) for months.

Middleton commented: “It was very sinister. I hesitate to get too heavy about it, but it is an issue – men being attacked in this manner. Apparently it does happen and according to the police it’s incredibly under-reported because men are very embarrassed about it.”

The 56-year-old star conceded that Ashley was foolish to let Sally into his home, but noted that the character’s main flaw is “he always tries to see the best in people – even psychopaths like Sally”.

On the implications for his alter ego, Middleton added: “For Ashley, it’s the worst thing that could have possibly happened. Because of the nature of the drug, he has little recollection of what actually happened but it does come back in flashbacks. It’s an absolute living nightmare.”

Emmerdale, known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989, is a popular and critically acclaimed British soap opera that has aired on ITV since 1972. It is set in the fictional village of Emmerdale (known as Beckindale until 1994) in West Yorkshire, England, and was created by Kevin Laffan, with Steve Frost and Gavin Blyth serving as Executive Producer and Series Producer respectively since 2009.

The series is produced by Yorkshire Television and broadcast on the ITV network, and was first aired on 16 October 1972. It was originally conceived and broadcast as a daytime programme in an afternoon slot, becoming an early evening programme in 1978 in most ITV regions – but excluding London and Anglia, both of which followed in the mid-1980s. Until the mid-1980s, Emmerdale took seasonal breaks and was not an all year round soap. The series was first broadcast over the Christmas holiday period in 1988.

Emmerdale is shown on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 19:00 and on a Thursday at 19:00 and 20:00 (as of 23 July 2009). Episodes are first broadcast on ITV. Every episode lasts around 29/30 minutes (including commercials). Without adverts the total time of footage averages to around 22 minutes per episode. Repeat episodes and the omnibus of the show can be seen on ITV2.

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