Ashley and Bernice in Emmerdale were once love’s young dream.
The good-natured, kind-hearted vicar and the fun, spirited barmaid won each other’s hearts — and viewers’ hearts as their unlikely romance took off.
But it wasn’t long before the couple’s relationship went awry and viewers of the classic Emmerdale on ITV3 began to wonder if their romance was actually abusive.
Here’s what happened between them.
A strange couple?
When no-nonsense vicar Ashley Thomas fell in love with glamorous barmaid Bernice Blackstock, some people in the village weren’t impressed.
Judgmental churchgoer Edna Birch was appalled at their romance, not to mention Ashley’s brazen boss, Bishop Postlethwaite, who even tried to separate the couple by moving Ashley to a different church.
With the stress of her failed romance on her mind, Bernice decided to take a vacation. But while she was away, Ashley took it upon herself to write to Bernice’s estranged father Rodney in hopes of mending their relationship.
Hmm, that’s not really up to you, Ashley. We suspect Bernice had a good reason for not seeing her dad for over 20 years!
Predictably, Bernice wasn’t impressed with her boyfriend meddling in her family affairs behind her back, so she dumped Ashley and left him heartbroken.
We’re assuming this may have been the first warning that Ashley might be overly controlling.
When Sarah Sugden died in a barn fire a few weeks later, the villagers were devastated and Bernice realized life was too short not to be with the man she loved.
She and Ashley reconciled and, with the blessing of the surly Bishop, got married on Christmas Day.
But the drama was just beginning for the couple. Bernice was thrilled when she got pregnant, but the couple were sad when she miscarried.
Ashley, who needed some time off – just when his wife could have tolerated his presence – took a temporary job elsewhere.
And Bernice, feeling neglected, began an affair with Carlos, the cook at Woolpack and Sister Nicola’s boyfriend.
Try it again
Although the couple called off their affair, everything came out on Nicola and Carlos’ wedding day and Bernice – who was pregnant again – admitted she wasn’t sure if the father was Ashley or Carlos.
Bernice eventually found out baby Gabby was Ashley’s and the couple got back together.
But she found motherhood difficult and began to have doubts about her marriage.
On this week’s Classic Emmerdale, in episodes that originally aired in 2002, viewers saw a heartbreaking and awe-inspiring two-hander in which Ashley and Bernice admit their marriage is over.
But while they loved the “absolutely incredible” episode, fans pointed out that the scenes showed Ashley wasn’t an ideal husband, despite being a man made of stuff.
We have to admit, this Zweihander from 2002 on ITV3’s #classicemmerdale right now is absolutely amazing. Written by the late, great Chris Thompson, this episode features superb performances by @john_middleton_ and @sammeegiles as Ashley and Bernice. #emmerdale
– The Tates of Home Farm 💙 (@TheTateDynasty) July 15, 2022
“Ashley is abusive,” one wrote on Twitter.
Another agreed: “Ashley is abusive. The character I mean. Typical features of domestic violence and coercive control.”
“Ashley really got on my nerves today, he just wouldn’t shut up about Bernice having another child. Gabby is only three months old, then he went into self-pity and then into evil mode. I felt sorry for Bernice this time,” wrote a third.
A fourth said: “Poor Bernice. Being married to Ashley can really screw you up.”
“Well that was depressing,” said another.
Continue reading: Who is leaving Emmerdale this year?
When Bernice’s marriage was over, she left the village without her daughter and returned eight years later.
And Ashley married Laurel Potts and had children Arthur and Dotty.
But viewers were shocked when Ashley physically abused his elderly father Sandy.
what does that say When someone shows you who they are, do you believe them? Maybe Ashley was showing us who he was all along?
Emmerdale normally airs weekdays at 7.30pm on ITV with an hour-long episode on Thursdays.
What do you think? Was Ashley abusive? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think.
https://www.entertainmentdaily.co.uk/soaps/emmerdale-ashley-bernice-what-happened-abusive/ Emmerdale: Ashley and Bernice: What happened between them?