from former Official Site
Played by John Middleton
First Appearance on 5 December 1996
Job; Vicar of Emmerdale
Married; To Bernice Blackstock on Christmas Day 2000
He immediately became involved in the joys and heartbreaks of the village
upon arrival in December 1996. He presided over the wedding of Biff
and Linda Fowler on Christmas Eve, only to hold the funeral for Linda’s
brother Dave shortly afterwards.
In 1997, he was the vicar at the funerals
for Frank Tate and Linda Fowler, as well as the farcical wedding
attempt between Lisa Clegg and Albert Dingle.
Zoe Tate became a good friend, and Alan became more involved in the village.
He got into a scrape with Eric Pollard over the storage of antiques
in the village hall, and voted Alan Turner off the fete committee.
Recently Ashley was the unwitting alibi in the Marchants’ scheme
to steal a horse from the stud farm. He led the prayer service for
Ashley agreed to locate the Woolpack
in the village hall after the recent fire, which caused conflict
with Alan Turner. He has also become embroiled in the Dingles’ wedding
dilemma, acting as an unwilling go-between between Mandy, Paddy and
Ashley thought he booked a gospel band
for the village hall, they turned out to be a skinhead band. He got
in Alan’s way while the Woolpack was located in the village
hall, he enjoyed flirting with Bernice and conducted Vic’s
He tries to cheer Terry up and conducts the christening for Belle Dingle.
He discovers the church roof collection is stolen, he was angry and
determined to find the culprit, threatening to involve the police.
He gives Mandy advice about annulment, talks to Kelly and Roy about
their wedding plans and is surprised at their maturity and determination.
He has a heart-to-heart with Butch and later in the year conducts
Rachel’s funeral. He also conducts the wedding of Roy and Kelly
and is jealous of Gavin when he arrives at the Woolpack. He has realised
that Gavin’s feelings for Bernice may not be as strong as she
thinks and is falling for Bernice himself.
Ashley finally tells Bernice of his true feelings. First she is annoyed
but then changes her mind and visits him at the vicarage where they
kiss. The next day Betty sees Bernice at the vicarage wearing one
of Ashley’s shirts. They are now openly a couple, receiving
a few objections from various people who don’t believe it is
correct for a vicar to be with a pub landlady.
In July she asks him to marry her.
He accepts and they celebrate their engagement by throwing a party.
Ashley is offered a job in Leeds, he decides not to go and despite
some hiccups along the way they are married on Christmas Day.
Bernice is desperate to get pregnant and puts Ashley on a diet of healthy
food and exercise. All this to fruition when Bernice falls pregnant
but sadly she has a miscarriage. The pair slowly become estranged.
Bernice cannot come to terms with the miscarriage. She starts an
affair with Carlos, who happens to be her sister Nicola’s boyfriend.
Ashley is delighted that his wife
seems much happier. The affair is off and on then off again, and
still he is oblivious. Later in the year (September) Bernice discovers
that she is once again pregnant. But whose baby is it? She decides
to end the affair with Carlos once and for all and tells Ashley they
are having a baby.
In April 2002 Bernice left the village unable to cope with marriage or
motherhood. Little Gabby was left with her father to be reaised with
the help of her grandparents Rodney and Diane.
Emmerdale cleaner Laurel Potts is a woman on a mission.
The dippy local is desperately in love with vicar Ashley Thomas and
refuses to give up the fight for her dream man.
However, her quest to win his heart has already faltered at the first
hurdle. A few months ago Laurel made her feelings for lonely Ashley
crystal clear but he gently told her he was still in love with his
Despite the embarrassing incident, Laurel has been unable to shake
the feeling that she is the right woman for Ashley. Having kept her
distance for a few weeks, Laurel was delighted when Ashley expressed
an interest in the speed dating evening.
Taking this as a sign that finally Ashley is ready to move on from
his dead marriage, Laurel immediately offered to join him. The situation
looks even brighter when Ashley asks Laurel to help him prepare for
the evening. But when it transpires that the twosome will not be alone,
Laurel begins to get disheartened about her chances.
Pal Nicola Blackstock tells Laurel honestly that she is wasting her
time but the optimistic cleaner is convinced they're a match made in
If only Ashley agrees...
Emmerdale's Laurel Potts and Ashley Thomas are getting much closer.
The duo decide to hit the Marsden's party after their speed dating
night and get carried away with the jovial party atmosphere.
After being deeply disappointed that Ashley - the object of her devotion
- has once again rejected her during their speed date, Laurel can't
believe her luck. At the 1970s themed party, Ashley has had a little
too much to drink and it's down to Laurel to ensure he gets home safely.
As they stumble through the village, love struck Laurel decides that
the time is right to be absolutely honest about her feelings for the
Having got Ashley to the vicarage and settled him on the sofa, Laurel
tells Ashley that her initial attraction to him has grown into something
deeper and that she is in love with him. How will the inebriated clergyman
The tipsy clergyman enjoyed himself rather too much at the Marsden's
party and fears he may have accidentally bedded pal Laurel Potts.
Hung over and mortified Ashley spends the entire morning trying desperately
to recollect what happened the fateful night before. He can recall
the speed dating event and arriving at the '70s themed bash - but events
beyond that remain a mystery.
When he wakes up with Laurel, he is convinced that some romantic encounter
must have occurred due to his inebriation, but has no firm proof.
Ashley has been fending off Laurel's attentions for quite some time
now. Although he has let the dippy cleaner down gently, Laurel remains
convinced that something could develop between them. Frightened that
if they have slept together, Laurel will take it as confirmation of
his feelings, Ashley prays that there is an innocent explanation.
But with no-one else in the village able to confirm or deny any raunchy
antics between them, it looks like only Laurel can give Ashley the
answers he needs.
STRIFE OF THE PARTY
RONNIE and Frances throw
a Seventies party and as the drinks flow it seems that
romance is in the air for some of the revellers.
Laurel takes a drunken Ashley back
home and tells him she loves him - but
by then he is asleep on the sofa. And
with Donna away, Elaine and Robert share
But there is no happy ending for either couple.
" Laurel is besotted by Ashley," says Charlotte Bellamy, who plays the lovelorn
Miss Potts. "Nicola tries to warn Laurel not to make a fool
of herself but Laurel thinks she can make Ashley happy."
Louise mentions she is going to try her luck
at speed-dating, a night of five-minute mini-dates, in the hope
of finding a new man. Lonely Ashley takes an interest, so Laurel
instantly wants to come too. The evening goes slowly until Ashley
and Laurel finally have their mini-date.
" They have a great time," says Charlotte. "But I donít think he thinks of her
as a possible partner. They go back to the Marsdensí party afterwards and by
then Ashley has really had too much to drink. Laurel takes him home and, as she
settles him onto the sofa, she whispers to him that she loves him. But by then
Ashley is fast asleep!"
Meanwhile, Robert and Elaine share a tender kiss but Elaine is
instantly wracked with guilt over Robertís regular girlfriend,
Robert coolly says that no-one need know, which only upsets Elaine
further and she rushes off in tears.
Emmerdale's talent show ends in terrible tragedy for the villagers.
Wacky brothers Eddie and Bob Hope delight the Woolpack punters
with their high camp show but a horror incident is unfolding
Village vicar Ashley Thomas has been worrying all week that
the event will be a resounding failure after failing to secure
any definite acts. But, unable to resist the lure of the
stage, Bob and his brother decide to update their classic
show - complete with leopardskin outfits and fake moustaches.
The hilarious sight distracts attention from Sam Dingle's
lamentable impression of a bird and everybody is having a
whale of a time - until the police arrive.
Shocked Zoe Tate is taken outside to be told that there
has been a death at Home Farm and has to be escorted back
to the vicarage by Ashley. As the news spreads, Terry Woods
breaks down devastated that he might have prevented the incident.
But, while Emmerdale's shocked locals try to take in the
tragedy, the police are working hard to establish what exactly
happened at Home Farm.
And start to suspect foul play...
Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri - ITV1
LOUISE and Ashley set plenty of tongues wagging when she
gives him a tender kiss on the cheek in The Woolpack.
For her, it’s a way of winding up Edna and the gossips.
But as the charade continues, Ashley struggles to hide his
changing feelings for his friend.
The very public peck comes in a week where Louise rescues
Ashley from a date with Susan, a woman he met speed-dating,
by pretending they are engaged.
Louise and Ashley are both after new partners but she quickly
realises her creepy date, Guy, isn’t the man for her
and then notices Ashley can’t stop Susan going on about
"It’s hilarious," says Emily Symons, who
plays the landlady. "Louise says she’s Ashley’s
fiancée. Susan is shocked and angry. She pours a drink
over the ‘womaniser’, and then Louise does the
Despite his soaking, it’s obvious Ashley is grateful
and Edna and her gossiping friends are convinced something
is going on between the vicar and the bar boss.
Next day, Louise helps Ashley out at the tea dance. Edna,
Pearl and Betty note how close they seem. Laurel insists
they’re just friends but Pearl is sure there’s
real chemistry there.
"Ashley tells Louise to ignore the silly speculation," says
Emily. But she kisses his cheek to give the gossips something
to talk about.
"As the speculation grows, Louise winds up the locals
even more. And when Ashley comes in to The Woolpack, she
kisses him again."
Ashley is aware that his feelings for Louise are changing
but he is determined to keep them hidden as he’s convinced
she could never feel the same way about him.
Sun to Fri - ITV1
BERNICE makes a comeback to Emmerdale as the villagers prepare
to say a sad farewell to her mate Tricia.
But Bernice’s return is delayed when her car breaks
down in the middle of nowhere as she and baby Gabby drive
back from Brighton.
Gabby’s dad Ashley is upset by her anguished phone
call because - still suffering injuries from the New Year
road accident - he can’t drive to the rescue.
Loyal Laurel volunteers to go, only for Bernice to take
her car and thoughtlessly leave her abandoned at the roadside.
"It’s a bit of a comical comeback in some very
tragic circumstances," says Samantha Giles, who plays
"She is devastated by Tricia’s death and she’s
desperate to get Gabby to safety, but she does leave Laurel
in the lurch."
Laurel drives out to fetch Ashley’s ex in her tiny
car, which is already full with cleaning products. When she
arrives, Bernice quickly takes charge and jumps in to the
driver’s seat with Gabby beside her.
"There is no room for anyone else," says Samantha. "So
Laurel is left behind. And when Bernice gets to Emmerdale,
she has a happy reunion with Ashley and they forget all about
Bernice’s return comes at the end of a week that is
totally dominated by the preparations for poor Tricia’s
Marlon wants a service to suit his late wife’s fun-loving
He doesn’t want black veils and miserable hymns, insisting
it’s not how Tricia would want to be remembered.
Steph, Tricia’s mum, struggles with her own emotional
turmoil, and grandfather Turner is angry when she rows about
who will speak at the service.
The Dingles offer a horse for the procession but Steph thinks
it’s tacky and hits the roof.
She says she won’t go to the funeral and Turner walks
out in disgust, leaving his daughter to burst into tears.
ITV.COM Mad About
Thursday | 22.01.04
One Emmerdale resident is delighted by vicar Ashley's love split.
Laurel Potts sees the demise of his relationship with Louise
Appleton as her chance to win his heart after months of longing.
Despite the fact that Ashley has repeatedly told the smitten
cleaning lady he only wants to be her friend, Laurel's passion
for him has remained undimmed.
And the horrific car crash he suffered on New Year's Eve
brought the pair closer together than ever before. Laurel
comforted delirious Ashley as he lay in agony and he believed
her to be his guardian angel. And while their bond was strengthened
by the accident, Ashley's relationship with Louise hit the
With Louise and Ashley both resigned to the fact they can
never make their relationship work, the lonely vicar is on
his own once again. But Laurel is already planning to curtail
his newfound singleton status as soon as she can.
But will the dreamy romantic be able to convince Ashley
that she is the woman of his dreams?
Emmerdale vicar Ashley Thomas sees Laurel in a new light.
The lovelorn clergyman was grateful for dizzy cleaner Laurel's
support and quick thinking when daughter Gabby was taken
ill earlier this week.
And when he returns from the doctors, where Gabby has been
diagnosed as having chicken pox and not meningitis, he starts
to ponder how important Laurel is to both him and his daughter.
Although he knows Laurel has long held a torch for him,
Ashley is attracted to glamorous and unsuitable women like
Bernice and Louise. But when Laurel offers to give Ashley
a hand with caring for poorly Gabby, he starts to become
more and more impressed with her.
Actor John Middleton - who plays Ashley - explains, "Laurel
is very good with Gabby, and Ashley finds himself enjoying
"He likes having her around as a friend, without the
pressures that come with being in a relationship."
Can Laurel settle for just friendship with the object of
Emmerdale singleton Laurel Potts has her heart broken once again.
The kindly cleaner has been getting closer to vicar Ashley
Thomas in recent weeks and hopes their relationship is moving
Ever since Ashley's horrific car accident on New Year's
Eve, Laurel has been sure there is something between them.
During the crucial hours following the accident, Laurel kept
a vigil by Ashley's side and he became convinced she was
his guardian angel.
In the past few months things have changed dramatically
for Ashley, he has split up with girlfriend Louise, lost
pal Tricia and had a visit from ex-wife Bernice.
And now he is alone again with baby daughter Gabby, Ashley
has leaned on Laurel for support once again. But all the
attention he is lavishing on her is giving poor Laurel the
impression they could have a future together.
But during a nice meal at the vicarage, Laurel's dreams
are shattered once again.
Actor John Middleton explains, "As they're having a
meal he mentions to Laurel how impressed he is with the way
she looks after Gabby, and asks if she has ever considered
working as an au pair.
"He doesn't realise it, but Laurel takes it to mean
that he doesn't want her around any more."
Can Laurel recover from the heartbreaking setback?
Sun to Fri - ITV1
LAUREL finally summons up the courage to tell Ashley how
much she loves him. But the vicar is so shocked by the sudden
outburst that he refuses to even consider a relationship.
It’s only when Laurel is heading off to become an
au pair in Finland that Ashley starts to see he doesn’t
want to lose her.
"Laurel really loves Ashley," says Charlotte Bellamy,
who plays the caring cleaner. "She has felt this way
for ages but, this week, she can’t keep quiet about
her feelings any longer."
Ashley and Laurel are drawn closer together when Gabby has
a meningitis scare. She shows frightening symptoms, but when
Ashley rushes his daughter to the doctor, he’s told
it’s only chicken pox.
"Laurel instantly offers to help out," says Charlotte. "She
can see Ashley is worried and she gets on well with Gabby."
Ashley starts to wonder what he would do without Laurel
and the next day, after she’s done more baby-sitting,
he asks her if she can stay longer.
"Laurel quickly rings her boss Nicola and makes an
excuse to get out of work for the rest of the day," says
"Ashley and Laurel have a meal together and Laurel’s
in heaven. Ashley’s clearly impressed with her, but
then he suggests she could do well as an au pair.
"Laurel’s shattered. She feels he can’t
have any feelings for her if he wants her to go and work
in another country."
Next day, Laurel steels herself to tell Ashley how she feels
and blurts out "I love you".
"Ashley is shocked," says Charlotte. "He’s
flattered but he has just come out of a relationship and
doesn’t want to get into another. Laurel is mortified.
She calls an employment agency who later suggest a possible
au pair’s job in Finland. She wants to get as far away
"Ashley comes and says that he hopes they can still
be friends. He gives her a kiss on the cheek, but Laurel
is numb. She just wants to get away."
But it’s clear that Ashley is more upset than he has
shown at the thought of Laurel leaving the village.
Emmerdale's Laurel Potts gets so fed up pining
over vicar Ashley that she decides to leave the country, according
to All About Soap.
Laurel has always been a good friend to Ashley
Thomas, but she longs for something more to happen between
Now that Ashley has split up with barmaid
Louise she has the perfect opportunity to tell him how she
So Laurel takes the day off work to spend
time with the village vicar and blurts out the truth.
Charlotte Bellamy, who plays the cleaner,
told the magazine: "Ashley's flabbergasted! He's very fond
of her and really values their friendship, but he doesn't see
her like that."
"This forces Laurel into doing something
pretty drastic. She feels so rejected she decides to leave
Laurel has been offered a job as an au pair
in Finland and pretends she's really excited about the move.
She has always been there for Ashley (John
Middleton), cleaning and looking after Gabby.
And now she is leaving the vicar suddenly
realises he does care for her - but it may be too late as she
is heading for Manchester Airport.
Charlotte added: "I'm not allowed to reveal anything. They
would make a good couple though, don't you think?"
Emmerdale's smitten Laurel Potts lays her cards on the table.
The besotted cleaner has been enjoying the company of love
interest Ashley Thomas and decides it's time to tell him
Poor Laurel took a severe blow to her confidence earlier
this week when Ashley told her she would be a great au pair.
Taking his compliment to mean he would be happy to see her
move far away, the ditzy cleaner was left reeling by the
But ever the optimist, Laurel decides to gage Ashley's true
feelings by declaring her love for him directly - and her
confession shocks the unsuspecting vicar to the core.
Actor John Middleton explains, "It's the last thing
Ashley expects Laurel to come out with. He had absolutely
no idea that she felt that way about him. He's extremely
flattered and doesn't want to hurt her feelings, but he has
only just come out of a relationship with Louise.
"The last thing he wants to do is to start a new romance."
Can Laurel settle for being "just good friends"?
Sun to Fri - ITV1
VICAR Ashley sees the light at last and rushes to the airport
to try and stop Laurel flying off to a new life in Finland.
He asks her to stay, but is too shy to tell her he loves
her and she heads off to board her plane. Then Ashley has
a change of heart and jumps on the same flight to Helsinki,
not knowing that Laurel has had second thoughts and is not
on board when it takes off!
"Trust Ashley to complicate things!" says John
Middleton, who plays the lovelorn vicar. "He only realises
the strength of his feelings for Laurel when he can’t
face life without her."
The week begins with Laurel saying her goodbyes and giving
little Gabby a silver bracelet to remember her by.
There’s an emotional farewell party in The Woolpack,
complete with karaoke. Laurel sings Leaving On A Jetplane,
then trips and tumbles into Ashley’s arms as she walks
"Even then, he doesn’t say anything about how
he feels," says John. "And when Laurel later gets
in her taxi to leave, he can hardly bear to watch. As her
car pulls off, it dawns on him that he doesn’t want
Laurel to go. He gets a taxi to the airport to stop her going."
He manages to catch up with a shocked Laurel at the airport,
but still can’t find the words to express his feelings.
"Ashley just gets terribly tongue-tied," says
John, "and goes on about how everyone will miss her."
While a disappointed Laurel heads off towards the departure
gate Ashley reaches a dramatic decision - he realises he
simply must follow Laurel. He rings Chastity and asks for
his passport to be brought to him.
When Ethan arrives at the airport with the document, he
warns his colleague he’s being irresponsible. "But
Ashley doesn’t care," says John. "He’s
just chasing after the woman he loves."
He hurries on board, unaware Laurel is explaining to confused
ground staff that she has changed her mind and doesn’t
want to go after all, and the plane departs.
As she’s leaving the airport Laurel sees Ethan, who
explains Ashley has jetted off to Finland after her!
"Ashley feels a fool," says John. "He’s
frightened of his feelings and his fear gets him into this
mess. But he flies back the next day and Laurel meets him
at the airport. At long last he tells her that he has been
blind and can’t imagine life without her.
"They pledge to try to make a go of things and fall
into each other’s arms. There are still some nervous
moments ahead, but I think they make a good couple."
Emmerdaleís Laurel Potts says goodbye
to the village - and Ashley.
The dizzy cleaner wants to start
a new life as an au pair in Finland
after being rejected by the confused
However, despite being adamant that
he doesnít want a relationship with
Laurel, Ashley is surprised by his
strong feelings as she prepares to
Although he has never considered
her as a potential girlfriend, the
lonely vicar has come to depend on
her friendship and support.
But is what Ashley is feeling real
Actor John Middleton explains, "Itís
only when sheís going to leave that
he realises heíll miss her. But Ashleyís
reluctant to admit his feelings because
heís been badly hurt in the past.
"Itís painful for Ashley to say
goodbye to Laurel, and eventually
he realises that he canít say goodbye
- he has to stop her going.
ĎSo he races off in a taxi to the
airport and thereís this big rush
to get there."
Will Ashley make it in time to win
Emmerdaleís lovestruck vicar Ashley
Thomas is running out of time.
Having realised he is in love with
ditzy cleaner Laurel Potts, romantic
Ashley has to stop her leaving for
Finland for good.
But considering his previous bad experiences
with women, Ashley is understandably
nervous about getting himself involved
in another serious relationship so
However, the nature of their situation
means the vicar must act fast, but
when he arrives at the airport to declare
his love - Ashley chickens out.
Actor John Middleton explains, "Well,
itís terrible as the poor man still
canít bring himself to say what he
should be saying.
"So in the end, he lets her go without
saying it! But then he decides heís
going to follow her to Finland and
tell her how he feels.
"He forgets everything else thatís
important in his life and goes racing
off after her."
And in the meantime, confused Laurel
wonders why he came to the airport
and makes some decisions of her own.
Actress Charlotte Bellamy explains, "Laurelís
waiting to get on the plane and starts
to think that Ashley must have some
sort of feelings for her if heís come
all the way to the airport.
"So just as Ashley begins to board
the plane she decides not to go after
Will the perfectly-matched pair ever
Emmerdaleís Ashley and Laurel finally
catch up with each other.
The unlucky duo have both realised they
are meant to be together but some crossed
wires have prevented them from meeting
Laurel abandoned her flight to Finland
after vicar Ashley turned up at the airport,
but the besotted clergyman got on the
plane to declare his love.
Fortunately the misunderstanding is
cleared up but as Ashley arrives back
from Helsinki, he wonders what the future
holds for him.
Actor John Middleton explains, "Ashleyís
very shocked to discover Laurel waiting
for him at the airport when he returns
"He didnít expect anyone to be there
to meet him, so the fact that itís now
the love of his life whoís there is a
very touching moment."
Has Ashley found the happiness he craves?
It must be something about the name
Ashley that makes women go weak at the knees for both
Corrie's hapless butcher Ashley Peacock and Emmerdale
vicar Ashley Thomas get together with the women of
their dreams next week.
The Street's Ashley has been fighting
his feelings towards nanny Claire since the death of
his wife Maxine at the hands of a serial killer last
But when he hears Claire Casey is
leaving Manchester for a job in Florida, he realises
he has to act now or lose her forever.
A Corrie spokesman told The Daily
Mirror: "As Ashley is making his way to the shop he
sees a car moving off and thinks Claire's inside. He
dashes after it - but Claire is watching from the butchers
and realises how much he thinks of her.
Ashley, played by Steve Arnold, then
whisks Claire (Julia Haworth) into his arms and they
share a passionate kiss.
In sister ITV soap Emmerdale, Ashley
Thomas also has a race against time to stop the woman
he loves from leaving.
Cleaner Laurel Potts, played by Charlotte
Bellamy, fell in love with the village vicar almost
as soon as she set eyes on him more than a year-and-a-half
ago. But after resigning herself to the fact that nothing
will ever happen between them, she accepts a job in
However, Ashley (John Middleton)
suddenly realises he does have feelings for Laurel
and rushes to the airport to stop her leaving. But
for one reason or another he can't bring himself to
tell Laurel he loves her and he lets her go.
At the last minute the vicar decides
he's going to follow the love of his life to Finland
and tell her how he feels, but at the same time as
Ashley boards the plane, Laurel gets off it because
she can't bear to leave him.
Although Ashley ends up in Finland
while Laurel is in Yorkshire, all is not lost for the
lovelorn pair and they are finally reunited at the
airport upon Ashley's return.