Emmerdale is set to introduce a dark new storyline as Lydia Dingle is raped by her former childhood friend Craig.
The cleaner has been reconnecting with her former pal after sharing that they sadly lost a stillborn child when she was a teenager.
But in dark scenes set to air next month, Craig’s behaviour takes a sinister turn and he forces himself on her.
In a state of shock after the attack, Lydia has to make the decision whether or not to report the rape to the police.
In the coming weeks, Lydia will struggle to come to terms with what has happened and will internalise the attack.
SPOILER: Emmerdale is set to introduce a dark new storyline as Lydia Dingle is raped by her former childhood friend Craig
Unaware and oblivious of her ordeal, her family and friends soon grow increasingly worried about her behaviour.
The episodes have been produced with the support of Rape Crisis England and Wales, who have worked closely with Emmerdale to ensure the story is portrayed accurately and sensitively.
Speaking about the hard-hitting storyline, actress Karen Blick said: ‘Lydia’s rape is one of the most important and sensitive stories I have been part of during my time in Emmerdale.
‘The research, preparation and aftermath of this story has been challenging and eye opening for me.
‘One in four women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult, and after reading this statistic I found myself standing in the canteen at ITV looking around as that figure really shocked me.’
This is not the first time Emmerdale has tackled such a difficult subject, as Victoria Barton was raped by Lee following a night out in 2019, a storyline which sparked complaints to media watchdog Ofcom.
Producer Laura Shaw said: ‘Emmerdale have never shied away from telling difficult but important stories and with Lydia’s rape we do just that.
‘With five out of six women who are raped not reporting it to the police, we really wanted to raise awareness of this issue and hopefully encourage any women who have been in a similar position to Lydia to speak out.
Friendly now! The cleaner has been reconnecting with her former pal after sharing that they sadly lost a stillborn child when she was a teenager
Terrifying: But in dark scenes set to air next month, Craig’s behaviour takes a sinister turn and he forces himself on her
‘We’ve been working really closely with Rape Crisis, who have held our hand every step of the way and given us invaluable support to be able to tell the story as authentically and responsibly as possible.
‘We’re also mindful of when Emmerdale airs on ITV, so the drama will be implicit rather than explicit.’
Jayne Butler, Chief Executive at Rape Crisis added: ‘Lydia’s story will resonate with the thousands of victims and survivors who are raped or sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year.
‘Although it can be difficult to see these experiences reflected on screen, when they are represented realistically and sensitively it can be a really powerful way to raise awareness.’
Emmerdale viewers previously shared their concerns for Lydia following last week’s episodes, after she and Craig reconnected.
Viewers have seen Lydia reveal to Craig that when they were teenagers living in a children’s home, she fell pregnant at the age of 15, but the child was sadly stillborn.
Going by her birth name Jenny, Lydia told Craig that he was the baby’s father, and she buried the child in the forest.
Terrified: In the coming weeks, Lydia will struggle to come to terms with what has happened and will internalise the attack
One fan tweeted: ‘#Emmerdale is Craig Lydia’s stalker? He rocks up at her home. Sam won’t be pleased,’
Another added: ‘Craig – you just know he’s going to end up in the padded cell next to Colin.’
A third posted: ‘Craig who hasn’t seen Lydia ( or Jenny as he knows her by) for 33 years now he seems obsessed with her. What are his real intentions?’
‘Craig is giving Stalker vibes,’ one declared.
One user posted: ‘Do you have a Partner? Did anyone notice that little pause before lying? Warning signs are there, Lydia/Jenny #emmerdale.’
Emmerdale airs weekdays at 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.
Anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse can contact Victim Support on 0808 168 9111 or www.victimsupport.org.uk.