Tomorrow is going to be the mother of all Mothering Sundays.
Charity's baby, Noah, faces a life or death situation. But then arriving
in a murderous clan like the Dingles was always going to be risky.
And any new-born who dared to cry when the midwife smacked its backside
was quickly branded a bit of a wuss.
Three months premature, and barely 21 days old, the tiddler weighs
little more than a bag of sugar. Now he has the chance to prove that,
like the rest of them, he's as tough as old boots. For he's diagnosed
with a deadly illness which, if he doesn't respond to medication, may
require an operation with only a 50-50 chance of survival.
FROM HERE TO PATERNITY: The Dingles hear Charity's DNA news
That's the first bit of bad news. By Tuesday, there's worse.
His mother opens a letter that reveals a fate far worse than death.
For it contains the name of the child's father and, from here on in,
there are going to be Noah more secrets. And this is an ominous Dingle
summit, matched only by a hanging judge gravely placing a black cap
on his head as he passes sentence.
The former happy hooker has narrowed down the dad to just three likely
suspects - her late husband Chris and cousins Marlon and Cain. Still,
you can't help but suspect it's a shortlist based only on the names
she could remember out of all the men she has bedded.
As his identity is classified information under Soapland's Official
Secrets Act, you'll have to tune in to find out more.
But no matter who the father is, Charity has already decided to have
her child adopted - and this is a fraught and overcrowded time.
The Prostitute Poisoner and jailbird Cain have a set of his and hers
matching prison guards in the hospital, and grieving Marlon has brought
along the ghost of his dead wife.
There's also an overdose of testosterone as the men get manly.
'What are you worried about?' Cain cruelly snaps. 'If the kid lives,
yer gunna give 'im away to a total stranger. And if he snuffs it -
end of problem. Can't lose, can yer?'
Marlon has also made a decision. 'If he pulls through,' he announces
hesitantly, 'well, there's a better than even chance he's mine. I'm
gunna adopt him.'
Then there's Charity's sister-in-law and former lesbian lover, Zoe,
standing by with a bag of cash and a place on the board of Tate Haulage
should Noah turn out to be her nephew.
'You know all about adoption,' Charity sneers, referring to the time
Zoe almost gave up her own daughter, Jean. 'He's goin' to a loving
family... Not a freak one like yours.'
Now the words 'pot', 'kettle' and 'black' really do apply here.
Sun to Fri - ITV1
After months of wondering, Charity finally finds out just who is the
father of her baby as the result of the paternity test arrives.
That bombshell comes as Charity reels from the news that premature
Noah is so ill his chances of survival are only 50/50 and that he might
Zoe is sure that her late brother, Chris, is the dad, making Noah
a Tate. Cain is convinced the test will prove he is the father, while
grief-stricken Marlon worries it could be him.
"But Charity is more concerned with Noah's health," says
Emma Atkins, who plays Chris's jailbird widow. "She's shocked
when the doctors tell her Noah has necrotising entercolitis, a condition
which can sometimes affect premature babies.
"Noah needs antibiotics and an X-ray, and Charity is distressed
to hear they might have to operate, even though he is so tiny."
Charity is distraught, and the Dingles hold a family vigil at Noah's
bedside. As if things weren't bad enough, Zoe racks up the tension
when she arrives to visit the baby she says might be her nephew.
Zak tries to ring Cain to let him know what is happening, but he gets
into trouble for using a mobile phone in the hospital.
"The nurse says they will have to operate if Noah doesn't improve
soon," says Emma.
"The next day, the doctor says it looks as if there is no alternative
to an operation and Charity wonders if it is worth putting Noah through
such an ordeal. But the doctor insists there is still hope."
Back at the Dingles', the results of the paternity test arrive. Zak
is about to rip the envelope open when Lisa tells him that Charity
should be first to read it. While the Dingles are on their way over,
Marlon arrives at the hospital to visit Noah, much to Charity's surprise.
"They are just talking when Cain is brought in, handcuffed to
a guard," says Emma. "Typically, he starts a row with Marlon
as soon as he arrives.
"Marlon says that if Noah is his, he'll adopt him. Cain then
starts insisting that Noah is definitely his son and he's not going
to let anyone adopt him. But then Lisa, Zak and Debbie arrive with
the paternity test results. It's a major shock for everyone when they
discover who Noah's dad really is."