||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
Charley Webb as Debbie Dingle (2012)
|Portrayed by||Charley Webb|
|First appearance||24 December 2002|
|Introduced by||Steve Frost|
Taxi driver (2008–10)
Mechanic (2005–12, 2014—)
|“||Debbie is a self-sufficient Dingle and in many ways her mother's daughter. Despite a rocky start in life she's done well for herself, running her own business and getting custody of daughter Sarah. Like most of the Dingles she has been involved in lots of scams and money is important to her. Sometimes she feels like she ends up parenting Cain and Charity and she's not afraid to tell them what's what. She does have a more vulnerable side which comes out when she’s in a relationship.||”|
Webb told Gemma Graham from TV Buzz that the reason she "loves" playing Debbie is the fact she has always been a fighter. "Nothing will knock her down and if it does she'll get back up again". Webb said that she would not pick a fight with Debbie because she would win "any day".
In one storyline Debbie takes part in a jewellery heist with the help of Chastity Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) and Lexi Nicholls (Sally Oliver). Lexi is given a bracelet at a sale and pretends she has stolen it to impress Debbie. Oliver told Kris Green of Digital Spy that Debbie thinks that stealing jewellery must be easy. Debbie thinks of a "big master plan" and they attend a party at Home Farm. The three females "dress up-the-nines" in "camp costumes". Debbie gets Chas and Lexi to cause a diversion while she steals an expensive necklace. Oliver said that over the following episodes viewers found out what really happened with the necklace and what they plan to do with it. Debbie's attitude causes Lexi to become suspicious; Oliver said that Lexi "wants the necklace straight back, it's not the sort of thing she's going to take lightly." Debbie starts plotting to sell the necklace and keep the proceeds for herself. Oliver said Debbie swaps the necklace for a fake and makes Chas and Lexi think she has lost it. The production team did not use real diamonds in the storyline and opted for plastic glass. Oliver said that she did not think they would get away with the scam.
On 28 December 2012, Tom Eames, from Digital Spy, confirmed Emmerdale character Debbie Dingle would reportedly attempt to inherit people's fortune by conning them in an upcoming plot. Following recent heartbreak at the hands of unfaithful boyfriend Cameron Murray (Dominic Power), Debbie will use her family's history - Charity Dingle and Cain Dingle - of con schemes to receive financial gain in order to provide for her children Sarah Sugden and Jack Sugden.
"Debbie's on a mission and she's taking no prisoners!" an Emmerdale insider told Inside Soap. "Heartbroken she might be, but she has no intention of sitting about moping. Debbie will be putting her Dingle skills to maximum use as she prepares to set her plan in motion. "Her initial target is Dom, but once it becomes clear Debbie will stop at nothing in order to get her way, Cain and Charity start to wonder whether their daughter might be out of control." Webb commented on her character's new appearance, during the scheme: She becomes very business-minded, almost overnight. She suddenly goes through this massive change, to her looks and her hair. "It's all about earning money for the kids. She's determined that no-one will ever be able to screw her over again." "She's watched her mum and dad do what they want and get what they want for years. Now she's saying, 'That's it - I'm like you'.
"Even Charity's shocked, but Debbie's got a one-track mind at the moment. She just wants to become a mini-Cain. The Cameron thing has left her completely broken, and this is the only way she can get through it. She's putting on a mask and pretending everything's okay."
When Debbie shows Sam Dingle (James Hooton) a photo of her biological mother, he recognises her as Charity Tate (Emma Atkins). They eventually meet and she grows close to her step-father, Chris Tate (Peter Amory), but after meeting her father, Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley), the trio's closeness strengthens and Chris is sidelined. This affects him extremely, resulting in him cancelling plans to adopt Debbie on his death. Debbie, Charity and Cain move into Pear Tree Cottage and live as a family until Charity is found guilty of Chris's murder, so she and Cain move into the Dingle household. When the house becomes over-crowded, she and Cain move in with Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher) and Daz Eden (Luke Tittensor). Debbie's behaviour becomes erratic as she shows an interest in glamour and boys, resulting in her capturing Daz's affections.
Debbie, though, prefers Andy and local curate, Ethan Blake (Liam O'Brien). However, he is engaged to Niamh O'Connor (Tracey Moore). Andy tells Debbie he harbours a crush on her and they begin secretly dating until Charity and Cain discover this. Charity is accepting but Cain disapproves and causes a break-up between them. Andy has impregnated Debbie and conceals this until Daz witnesses her baby bump as Debbie is unaware. Daz is with her as she gives birth to her daughter and names her Sarah. Debbie and Andy reunite briefly but it is short-lived and his brother, Robert Sugden (Karl Davies), becomes romantically involved with Debbie instead. She, however, is unaware he has an ulterior motive. He ends the relationship when Debbie decides to leave baby Sarah with the Dingles while she and Robert go travelling because Robert wanted Sarah, not her. Feeling Sarah would experience a better life without her and knowing that Emily is leaving the area, she asks her to take Sarah with her. The Dingles are horrified so she moves in with Ashley Thomas (John Middleton), where she makes friends with Jasmine Thomas (Jenna-Louise Coleman). Debbie confesses her love for Jasmine and they begin a love affair until Jasmine cheats with Cain numerously. Wanting to hurt her, he ensures that Debbie sees them together, knowing that will culminate in a break-up. However, Debbie befriends Jasmine again upon Jasmine discovering her pregnancy. Sadie King (Patsy Kensit), pitying Jasmine, pays for her abortion. Debbie, knowing that Cain wants another child, tells him about Jasmine's aborted baby to hurt him, leading him to kidnap Sadie and Tom King (Ken Farrington) for financial gain to start a new life. Debbie attempts to convince Cain to stay but he leaves and gives her some money.
Emily returns Sarah to Andy and Debbie tells Andy that she does not want to be a mother. He later creates visits with Sarah and Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox), who hopes that Debbie will bond with Sarah. She does, and asks Andy for access but Andy refuses. Debbie starts dating Scott Windsor (Ben Freeman) but that ends as Scott leaves. Debbie enlists the help of Eli Dingle (Joseph Gilgun) to pose as Scott so she could take out a bank loan. Debbie, Chas and Lexi decide to stage a jewellery scam at Home Farm by stealing a valuable necklace and sharing the sale money. Debbie wants more money so she gets Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell) to help scam Chas and Lexi out of their share. Lexi discovers the truth and the pair fight in the street, accidentally dropping the necklace down a drain.
When Andy is sent to prison, his girlfriend Jo Stiles (Roxanne Pallett) asks Debbie to look after Sarah, which Debbie enjoys. Debbie discovers that there is a case of domestic violence between Andy and Jo and worries for Sarah's safety. Debbie gives Jo money so she and Sarah can flee Andy. She later allows Andy access to Sarah again, which annoys Debbie.
When Jasmine is attacked by her boyfriend Shane Doyle (Paul McEwan), Debbie tries to save her. Jasmine assaults Shane repeatedly and kills him. Debbie gets Eli to help dump Shane's body in the lake at Home Farm and Shane is reported as missing, but Victoria Sugden (Isabel Hodgins) finds his body. Ross Kirk (Samuel Anderson) is originally charged with his murder because of a feud. Jasmine wants to confess but Debbie talks her out of it. They become close and start a relationship once again. They decide to run away together but the police catch Debbie and arrest her. With Jasmine on the run; Debbie is left to take the blame for the murder. Eli enlists the help of Danielle Hutch to harm Debbie, concluding in Debbie being hospitalised. Debbie refuses to run away as Eli stages a break-out attempt. At Debbie's court hearing, Jasmine arrives and admits to murdering Shane. Debbie and Jasmine are found guilty on their charges.
Debbie is released from prison because of time served and her time in prison has made her realise that she wants Sarah back. Natasha Wylde (Amanda Donohoe) pays for a solicitor so she can fight for custody. However, Natasha's daughter Maisie Wylde (Alice Coulthard) is dating Andy and does not approve. Maisie and Debbie have a fight and Debbie thinks that she has ruined her chances but Maisie ends the relationship with Andy to keep out of the situation. Cain decides to help and asks Aaron Livesy (Danny Miller) to help. Aaron is dating Andy's sister, Victoria, and he persuades her to play truant from school and steal from local shops. Cain reports Andy to the social services, informing them about Victoria's behaviour and his past of domestic abuse. Debbie is awarded custody of Sarah.
Debbie dates Michael Conway but he later admits that he already has a girlfriend, that he is due to marry within days. He insists that he loves Debbie so she tells him to call off his wedding to prove it but he cannot because his fiancée is pregnant. On attending the wedding, Debbie and Cain are shocked to discover that his bride is Charity. He calls the wedding off, wanting Debbie back, but she chooses to build a relationship with Charity and Noah instead until she catches Charity stealing Cain's money. Cain and Charity later reconcile but annoyed at their inability to get along, Debbie takes a job in Jersey. She returns a number of months later and moves back in with her parents. Later she reveals that her boss tried to take advantage of her and she gained revenge by humiliating him and stealing money. Debbie starts a new relationship with Cameron Murray (Dominic Power), a man she previously had an affair with in Jersey, and discovers she is pregnant. She suffers a miscarriage and is annoyed that Cameron doesn't seem bothered.
Sarah is later diagnosed with a blood disorder, fanconi anaemia. Debbie and her family campaign to find a bone marrow donor. They find a suitable donor but they pull out. Debbie and Andy do not like the idea of the bad side effects of other treatments and decide to have a child together to create a new donor. Cameron and Andy's girlfriend Alicia Gallagher (Natalie Anderson) are uncomfortable with the idea but Debbie and Andy go ahead regardless, emotionally blackmailing Cameron and Alicia into agreeing, by telling them that they'd commit the same if their child was seriously ill. When they are refused IVF and artificial insemination attempts are unsuccessful, Debbie sleeps with Andy and are overjoyed upon discovering her pregnancy. Cameron decides he can't deal with this and leaves. Charity, thinking it was artificial insemination, persuades him to give Debbie another chance but Andy tells Cameron that he bedded Debbie. On discovering Andy revealed the truth, Debbie begs Cameron to stay, for Sarah's sake as well as hers.
In March 2012, Andy and Debbie find out their baby is a match for Sarah after Debbie undergoes tests. Cameron and Debbie eventually reunite after Debbie admits he is the only person she has ever truly loved. Andy is hurt as he loves Debbie but she does not feel the same about him. Andy's jealousy continues. Debbie learns that she is expecting a baby boy while Cameron starts an affair with Debbie's aunt, Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter). A few months into her pregnancy, Sarah reveals she wants to go to Paris with Debbie and Andy. Cameron wants to go but lets Andy take his ticket, much to Debbie's displeasure. He claims to go to Jersey to see his kids but sneaks off with Chas. Cain gets suspicious when Cameron's son rings and asks to speak to Cameron (who is supposed to be with him). A few weeks later, Debbie is shocked when Cain reveals his suspicions about Cameron to an unsuspecting Debbie and realises she has doubts herself. When Debbie and Cain confront Cameron, a heated Cameron lashes out at Cain. Debbie is knocked over, hitting her head and fears she may lose her unborn son. When rushed to hospital, tests show the baby is unharmed. Debbie is grateful as her son is a key to saving Sarah. Back home, Sarah asks if her brother still has "the magic potion" to save her and Debbie has tears as she realises how much Sarah wants her brother and how much it would hurt Sarah if Debbie didn't keep the baby totally safe. This, however, brings Cameron to his senses as he realised how much he loves Debbie, despite his affair with Chas.
Debbie is angry when Cameron forgets to check on Sarah when she is ill because he is on the phone to Carl about the £30,000 he and Chas owes for the picture of them together. Meanwhile, Debbie rushes home with Charity from shopping, to find Sarah collapsed. When rushed to hospital, Debbie, Cameron, Charity and Victoria discover Sarah is in a pre-lukaemic state, meaning she is fast developing Leukaemia. Debbie demands to be induced but is refused, as her son will be premature, and could die. In Emmerdale's live episode to celebrate its 40th Anniversary Debbie gave birth to a baby boy called Jack, after Andy's adopted father.
When Debbie returned from hospital, she was unaware that Cameron killed Carl King (Tom Lister) the night before when she was giving birth to Jack. Debbie discovered 6 new messages from Carl on her phone. When she opened them, she found 3 pictures and 3 texts of Cameron sleeping with Chas. Cameron arrived back from putting Jack to sleep and Debbie told him to pack his bags and leave because she thought Cameron was with Chas the night before. Cameron left and Debbie shows the pictures to Cain and Charity. Cameron begged Chas to leave but they were stopped by Charity, Cain, Debbie and Zak. The police were called and Cain and Charity were arrested for breach of the peace. Chas confessed to Carl's murder unaware that Cameron actually delivered the killer blow and she too was arrested. Cain and Charity were released without charge but Chas was charged with the murder of Carl, even though she pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Cameron remained in the village to stand by Chas and declared his love for her in front of Debbie. As part of her revenge Debbie set fire to his possessions and trashed his truck. Cameron then declared his love for Chas again in the pub in front of Dan and Charity. Charity and Cain then swore to get revenge for Debbie.
Debbie feels she needs to provide more for baby Jack and Sarah after Sarah begins her chemotherapy after her transplant. Debbie decides to set up a delivery firm and sleeps with new villager Dom (Wil Johnson) to get his contracts. After it is revealed that Dom's boss Pete does drug work, Pete tries to get Debbie to do drugs runs for him. He ends up threatening Sarah, leaving Debbie to terminate the contract.
Debbie hires Robbie Lawson (Jamie Shelton) as her assistant and they begin selling cheap vodka. Their biggest orders were from Eric and Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick) for the B&B and Debbie even tries to rip off Chas in The Woolpack. When the seller's price goes up, Debbie and Robbie set up a meeting with one of Robbie's old mates Kirk, who becomes very interested in Debbie. Whilst Debbie is at the meeting with Kirk, Jack and Sarah are nearly killed by Andy's girlfriend Kerry Wyatt (Laura Norton) when she sets fire to Dale View. Debbie swore to pay Kerry back for what she did, almost killing her in the street. Kirk's interest in Debbie continues even though Robbie reveals he is engaged to a woman named Charlene. Kirk states that Charlene will have him for the rest of their lives and he deserves to have Debbie while he can and kisses her. Debbie begins to get wary of him, thinking back on her previous times with engaged men, like Michael.
Debbie starts to get close to Belle and is horrified when Belle drinks half a bottle of her dodgy vodka and is left with possible brain damage. The Dingles throw Debbie out of the family and she loses her kids to Andy. She stays with Zak, gets her life back on track and gets closer to Cameron when he comforts her. Cameron begins to feel sorry for Debbie when Andy takes Jack and Sarah away, leading to the pair sharing a brief and tender kiss. Cameron persuades Debbie not to flee the village with Jack and Sarah because everyone has turned against her. Cameron feels a strong vibe towards her and accidentally, the pair end up in bed together. Just after sleeping with Cameron, Debbie discovers from Cameron "that it felt right" in his opinion, and is horrified that he wants her to help him cheat on Chas, like he did to her. Debbie denies it and says that it was a stupid mistake and that all she cares about is her kids at that moment. She then tells Cameron to leave but Debbie knows that she still loves him.
Cameron continues to fight for Debbie and after she angrily confesses that she tried to kill Chas, Cameron realises that it took a lot for her to confess, so he thinks she still trusts him. He follows her home from the café, unaware that Gennie is hidden upstairs with a dictophone, taping their conversation. Cameron confesses that he killed Carl. Debbie says she still loves him and they can get through it together, as she believed that he was with Chas while she was giving birth to Jack, but finally realises that Cameron was "threatened" by Carl and killed him in "self-defence". Debbie and Cameron kiss and head to tell Chas they are back together and while kissing in the street, they notice Gennie sneak out of Tug Ghyll. The pair chase her, which leads to Gennie tossing her car down a ravine. Cameron pulls a hurt Gennie out of the car while Debbie calls an ambulance. When Debbie asks if Gennie will be alright, he nods to her. After she walks off to find the ambulance, Cameron places a hand over Gennie's face and suffocates her to death. Debbie runs down the ravine and throws herself at Cameron, saying that she killed her auntie Gennie. Cameron kisses her but doesn't tell her he did it. Later when the police arrive Debbie lies to them saying that she found Gennie after driving by. Jai arrives whilst looking for Gennie to see Debbie with the police and is told what had happened. Later Debbie, along with Jai and the police, arrive at The Woolpack and tell Brenda, Bob, Nikhill and Chas about Gennie's death.
In September 2013, when Cameron's murderous crimes are exposed by Debbie and Chas after gaining evidence from Gennie's dictaphone, he is arrested and charged with the murders of Carl, Alex and Gennie. A month later, he manages to escape jail, gaining his passport and clothes. He then buys a ticket for a ferry, so people would assume he's left Yorkshire for good, however he doesn't attend the ferry. When Debbie, Chas and the other villagers are aware of his escape, they panic, with Debbie fearing the worst. Later on, Sarah is taken by Cameron, and locked in a barn, assuring her he will get Debbie and Jack, and go away as a family somewhere. She believes him, but when Zak and Moira are alerted of her disappearance they look for her. Debbie and other villagers including Chas are in The Woolpack she learns Sarah has been found by Andy and Moira, but learns Cameron is back and breaks into the Woolpack, taking everyone hostage also knocking Marlon unconscious and leaving him in the cellar, where the flood water rises. Cameron accidentally shoots Alicia, and David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) begs Cameron to let her out, in need for medical assistance as she is dying. He lets David and Alicia out and the rest of the villagers, except Debbie and Chas Dingle. After being hit by Marlon as he gains consciousness, Debbie and Chas rush to the cellar as they are engulfed by the water rising to the top. Cameron manages to get to the cellar and insists on him and Debbie drowning together. They float to below the water. As Debbie struggles, she manages to get out of Cameron's reach with Chas in tact. As he gasps for breath, and trying to pull Debbie back in, he fails, as she is outside, safe. He grabs a bulb and because of the encounter with the water he is electrocuted, and is finally killed ending his wrath and getting his comeuppance. Debbie rushes to Zak, soaking wet and crying as he reassures her Cameron is where he belongs - in hell, ending the Woolpack siege and Cameron's life.
Debbie struggles to move on from Cameron after the hold he had on her life, and after a new employee at Dingle Automotives, Ross Barton (Michael Parr), makes a clumsy pass at her, she lunges at him when he touches her arm. He constantly attempts to impress her, but always fails. When his brother Pete (Anthony Quinlan) thinks Ross is harassing her, he attacks Ross. An angry Ross later sets up Pete's car so he cannot go to a meeting, so Debbie comes out in the recovery vehicle. After sharing a moment together, they realize their attraction to each other and kiss. They have sex, but when Pete mentions Cameron afterwards, Debbie tells him to get lost. She tries to ignore him, but Chas persuades Debbie to try and leave Cameron in the past and make up with Pete. Debbie and Pete begin a secret relationship, but a jealous Ross soon finds out. When he deliberately damages Ashley Thomas' (John Middleton) car after an argument at the garage, Debbie insists he must compensate with his own money. Ross later buys dodgy flash cars for Debbie to try and win her affections, but furious, she insists he has to get rid of them before her father finds out. He sells them and gives the money to her. Debbie briefly ends her relationship with Pete when he tries to insist she see someone about getting over what Cameron did to her. When Alistair Harper, a man on a callout, comes onto her, she ends up stabbing him in the leg with a screwdriver. She's arrested for assault but is let out on bail. She confesses that she's still vulnerable to Pete who confronts Harper in hospital and threatens him into dropping the charges. After discovering this, Debbie kisses him and they get back together.
For her portrayal of Debbie, Webb won the "Best Young Actor" award at the 2005 Inside Soap Awards. In 2007, Webb was nominated for "Best Actress" at the British Soap Awards and the Inside Soap Awards. On Digital Spy's 2012 end of year reader poll, Chas and Cameron's affair and the subsequent effect on Debbie was voted fourth in the "Best Storyline" category, receiving 8.9% of the vote. Webb was nominated for the "Best Actress" award and the "Villain of the Year" award at The British Soap Awards 2013, and has been nominated for the "Best Actress" award again in 2014.
Kris Green of Digital Spy said that he thought the jewellery heist storyline was inspired by the 2000 Millennium Diamond heist. A writer from Holy Soap said "this tough cookie has had an eventful life, despite her tender years" and named Debbie's most "memorable moment" as being imprisoned for Shane's murder. In 2011, Gemma Graham of TV Buzz said that Webb had spent ten years in British living rooms playing Debbie. They said she is a character that has received numerous blows because she is a Dingle – but always came back fighting. If anyone needed a character from Emmerdale to fight their battles, Graham said that Debbie would be their choice. Of her attitude Graham added, "There's barely a soul in the soap's village who hasn't received a tongue-lashing from our Debs at one time or other. Quite honestly, she even puts the fear of God into us." Sarah Ellis of Inside Soap said that Debbie was not happy with Cameron nor Andy, "judging by the amount of time she spends looking miserable." Roz Laws of the Sunday Mercury branded Debbie as an "ice queen".
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