Sally Dexter has played Faith Dingle with a wonderful charm for the past 5 years – her scenes with Eric Pollard (Christopher Chittell) have been both emotional and quite often the much needed boost of comedy we needed. She’s proven herself to be a true Dingle and even pushed Kim over a balcony, haven’t we all wanted to do that? Next week as the cancer takes hold there is time for 1 last hurrah as Faith slips aways.
“After making the decision to stop her chemotherapy treatment, Faith carries on with some steroids which ease her nausea and fatigue a bit to begin with, this even gives her a bit of a boost, making it possible for her to indulge in a bit of her trademark mischief! There’s a bit of adventure in a little red sports car, a golf buggy and she even gets involved with an exotic animal at one point!
But nevertheless her health is starting to decline, bit by bit. There are more aches and pains. She gets breathless, loses her appetite, starts to lose strength particularly in her arms and legs, and increasingly there are headaches, and even blackouts.
It’s discovered that these black outs are due to the cancer starting to take up residence in her brain, and the prognosis is for it to start getting worse a lot quicker than was anticipated.
She starts to have episodes of huge anxiety and confusion; mistaking her beloved Cain, Chas and Kyle for an aggressive Shadrach (her ex-husband) who she believes is back from the past and is trying to attack and kill her. In response she is aggressive and lashes out at them to defend herself, leaving all of them deeply upset and frightened, particularly for what this means going forward.
Cain, Chas and Moira see Faith moving to a hospice as the next best and logical course of action for her, but she does not agree.
She starts to feel that the family is taking away her right to choose how she lives.. and dies… This starts to draw her to a decision that up till now she would never have considered; To calmly, with no fuss, relieve her family and herself of any further distress, pain or worry by taking matters into her own hands and speeding up her own death.
Faith is and has always been a lover of life! But to exist in mental torment and physical pain with absolutely no choice or control over that existence- is simply unacceptable to her; she decides she would rather die.
She tells Moira so. When she begins to voice the idea out loud, she isn’t 100% certain about actually doing it. She needs to speak to someone she loves and trusts, who won’t run round the village in hysterics telling everybody! She trusts Moira. As they talk, Faith realises this is the course of action she needs and wants to take.
But she’s scared, the thought of ‘going alone’ is very frightening. To be able to have someone she cares about holding her hand, would be the simple human comfort she would need to go in peace. She asks Moira who is absolutely against it.
We all thought it a vitally important point of view for Emmerdale to air, seeing as many people would agree with Moira. At the outset of telling this story we agreed all sides of this debate needed to be heard and respected.
Although Faith has to accept Moira’s view, even if she doesn’t agree with it, she is hugely relieved and grateful that Moira promises to keep her plan from Cain and Chas, for the time being. She’s adamant that they should know nothing. For one, she firmly believes they would do everything they could to prevent her carrying out her plan to quicken her own death. For another, if they knew about it, that knowledge could land them in a lot of trouble. It is illegal to assist someone to hasten their own death in this country. There is a penalty of imprisonment if found guilty.
Faith is already worried about the fallout of her death (natural or otherwise) on Chas and Cain. She already sees them at loggerheads and assumes it’s the stress of the situation. The thought of her children being criminalised for helping her would cause Faith untold anxiety and anguish, so she couldn’t let them know anything about it, for their sakes. And though she knows she wouldn’t be asking Moira to actually assist her dying, she realises she cannot have any possibility of Moira being implicated either, and for that reason, even though Moira relents and agrees to be by her side; Faith decides to take control alone .
The absolute decider comes after talking to Sam who had assisted in the death of Alice, his first wife, and is still haunted by the memory of it.
We do not see Faith taking the tablets, only calmly laying them out, when she has finally made sure everyone is out of the house.
As I’ve said Faith is/was a great lover of LIFE!! Before taking her leave of it, she wants to celebrate it with all the people she loves and she decides that replicating a truly happy holiday at the seaside when Cain and Chas were children would be the perfect way to do it! But Faith has another fall and ‘the children’ realise she’s too weak to travel. So with typical Dingle ingenuity, they decide to bring the Seaside to HER!!!
We filmed this over a few days up at the Dingle Homestead, on a week we were told was about to turn cold and rainy. The brilliant costume team were ready with the thermals and the hand warmers. The fabulous Cheryl and her make up team were poised with powder and hairspray to keep us in shape.
Then the sun came out and the whole thing sprang into joyous life. We all knew we’d be emptying sand out of our shoes for the next week or so, but it didn’t stop us having a ball. We really enjoyed ourselves!
This is the scene where Faith realised she couldn’t be happier- and she determines to carry out her plan the very next day. To go out on a ‘high’!
I found it really quite poignant to film, I knew it meant Faith’s time in Emmerdale was up, and so was mine…
I have enjoyed being back. I will miss the laughter, the fabulous Yorkshire countryside and the skill, talent and dedication of the whole team of people I respect, admire and have huge affection for. I’m hugely sad that Faith can’t return. If you spot me on the street you might recognise me wearing a few items!
I always knew Faith was coming back to die. My idea was to have her save Cain and Chas from some sort of attack in the Woolie – say from a bullet or a knife aimed at her children from a crazed intruder! I could picture her sliding down the side of the bar, with Cain and Chas declaring her a heroine! But the story Jane (Hudson) and the team wanted was a far more important and difficult one to tell. I only hope we have done as much justice as we could.
This subject has caused a lot of debate and so it should. The research team have dug deep for us throughout this whole storyline. For the final part of Faith’s storyline we had advice from an organisation called Dignity in Dying, including Steve Jetley and his own experience with his wife Tina, a story we were all extremely moved by. We were all in great awe of the work done by all organisations and charities used for this storyline.
Emmerdale airs these scenes from Monday October 10 on ITV.