John Middleton ignored by Emmerdale fans

'Emmerdale' star John Middleton has revealed people have stopped talking to him since his character Ashley Thomas started hitting his dad

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John Middleton

John Middleton

'Emmerdale' star John Middleton is being ignored by fans because of his character Ashley Thomas domestic abuse storyline.

The vicar has been hitting his elderly dad Sandy (Freddie Jones) in shocking scenes in the ITV soap, and John has been paying the price for his despicable character's actions in real-life.

He said: "People are avoiding me. My own mother doesn't like what's happening. I'm a season ticket holder at Newcastle and people have stopped coming up to me.

"I've been going to the same coffee rooms for years and there was a party of women who would normally have come across and spoken but they didn't say a thing.

"John, who owns the place, said, 'People take it so seriously. They told me that they didn't know what to say and that I should go across and tell you to stop being so horrible to everyone.' "

John fears Ashley's change of character from mild-mannered and liberal to hateful and angry maybe permanent.

The 58-year-old TV star is hoping Ashley - who he has portrayed for 16 years - can sort out his differences with his wife Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) and go back to being the way he was.

He added to the Daily Record newspaper: "It's very unsettling and I'm approaching it with a lot of trepidation. It's almost like a new start. It's a complete change of a character that I've built up over 15 years. In the past he was written for with great tenderness and fondness.

"That's gone and the public perception of him as a gentle and liberal character has gone too. I'm not sure if we'll ever get him back."

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