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Eden Taylor-Draper as Belle Dingle (2015)
|Portrayed by||James Mather (1998–2000)|
Emily Mather (1998–2005)
Eden Taylor-Draper (2005–)
|First appearance||Episode 2463 |
25 December 1998
|Emmerdale: The Dingles – For Richer for Poorer (2010)|
|Home||Wishing Well Cottage|
Tinkerbelle “Belle” Dingle is a fictional character from the ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Eden Taylor-Draper. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 25 December 1998 and was originally played by twins James and Emily Mather, with the latter leaving the role in 2005. Belle has featured in many storylines throughout her time on the show such as falling down a mineshaft, killing her best friend Gemma Andrews (Tendai Rinomhota), having an affair with the village doctor; Jermaine Bailey, faking a pregnancy to prevent Jermaine from leaving after their affair is revealed, being diagnosed with schizophrenia and a relationship with Lachlan White which later ended after discovering he was a murderer.
Belle is born on Christmas Day 1998 to Zak (Steve Halliwell) and Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox). Lisa is unaware that she is pregnant until she goes into labour and local vet Paddy Kirk (Dominic Brunt) delivers Belle. When Belle is seven-years-old, she goes missing, after she is left at home under the care of her uncle Shadrach Dingle (Andy Devine), who had fallen asleep. Daz Eden (Luke Tittensor) visits, bringing his pet ferret Spike. Although being warned not to, Belle lets the ferret out of his cage and in a panic, chases him through the fields. As she pursues him, she falls down a mine shaft. Daz is forced to leave the house, and when he finds her, dives in to help her out, but discovers that they are trapped, with the risk of freezing or drowning in the water. Daz manages to keep Belle afloat, until they are eventually rescued by the Dingles and the fire brigade. Belle acts as ring bearer at her cousin Marlon Dingle's (Mark Charnock) wedding to Donna Windsor (Verity Rushworth) and she briefly moves in with Marlon shortly after.
Belle's test results show that she is amongst the cleverest 2% of children her age and she wins a place at a private school, but she does not receive a full scholarship. The Dingles worry about how to pay the fees, and have to tell Belle that she is unlikely to go. Rosemary King (Linda Thorson) takes a liking to Belle and offers to pay the fees. Lisa initially refuses, but when Belle falls ill and Rosemary visits her in the hospital, Lisa changes her mind. On her first day at the school, Belle is paired with Ayesha, who helps her get to know the school. They become fast friends, but when Ayesha convinces her to talk about Shadrach in class, the teacher is unimpressed. Belle convinces Rosemary to help her throw a party at Mill Cottage for her friends. At the party, she impresses the girls by claiming to live at Mill Cottage with Rosemary and Grayson Sinclair (Christopher Villiers). Belle's parents find out about the party and later discuss taking her out of the school. The Dingles end their friendship with Rosemary and Zak briefly take up bare-knuckle fighting to raise money for the school fees. His granddaughter Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) lends them the money so Belle can keep her place.
Belle and Shadrach steal Christmas presents from under The Woolpack Christmas tree, but they are soon found out. Belle befriends Will Wylde (Oscar Lloyd). Zak leaves and does not come home for Easter as he was supposed to, causing Belle to call a Dingle Court in which Zak gets ex-communicated from the family. Zak returns a couple of days later after a drinking spree and carrying an enormous brand new TV. As Belle and Will grow closer and Belle comforts him when he learns his father is dead. Will has to leave the village and he gives Belle his Nintendo DS. Lisa encourages Belle to say goodbye, and she rushes up to the taxi, shouting that she loves him. Will shouts that he loves her too. Belle dates Luke Salter (Daniel Pearson), after meeting him at a party. They keep their relationship a secret, as he previously dated her friend Gemma Andrews (Tendai Rinomhota). When Gemma sees them together, she warns Belle that Luke is trouble. Her parents are also wary about the relationship, especially when Belle almost loses her virginity to him. Luke breaks up with Belle and she realises he only wanted to have sex with her.
Belle befriends Sean Spencer (Luke Roskell) and dates his best friend Thomas King (Mark Flanagan) to make him jealous. Gemma gives Belle a makeover after Sean laughs at her, which impresses Thomas. Belle's parents find inappropriate pictures of her on her phone, with evidence that Thomas took them. Sean steals a bottle of alcohol in an attempt to impress her, but he sees her with Thomas and smashes it. Belle's relationship with Thomas causes her to neglect Gemma. After a fight, Gemma sends Sean a suggestive photo of Belle which she had taken earlier in an attempt to get Thomas to notice her. However, Sean defends Belle and asks her if Thomas is making her do stuff, leading to her to angrily announce she never fancied him. In response, he posts the picture online. Thomas attacks Sean in defence of Belle. Sean apologises and she forgives him. Belle finds Thomas about to run away in Dan Spencer's (Liam Fox) van, and she begs him to take her with him. Paddy believes that Thomas kidnapped Belle, and tells her family. Thomas later brings her back to the village.
Sean asks Belle out and they make plans to have sex, but Dominic Andrews (Wil Johnson) interrupts them, claiming that Sean got Gemma pregnant. Belle abandons him and tells everyone at school that Gemma had an abortion, leading to a fight. Belle is suspended. She tells Debbie that she wanted to harm Gemma, which Dom overhears. After hearing Zak threatening to give her a beating, Belle drinks Debbie's leftover alcohol and loses consciousness. Belle is rushed to hospital, where her condition deteriorates as the alcohol was contaminated. Belle eventually wakes up and is discharged. She apologises to her mother. Belle and Sean grow close together, much to Gemma's displeasure. During an altercation with Gemma, Belle pushes her to the ground and Gemma hits her head. Belle apologises and tries to help her, but Gemma tells her to stay away and they walk off in opposite directions. Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton) finds Gemma's body near a hedge and she dies in hospital. Belle tells Lisa that she killed Gemma, but Lisa forbids her from going to the police. Belle leaves Gemma's funeral to hand herself in and she is charged with Gemma's murder.
Zak locks Belle in a barn to give her a taste of what prison would be like, and refuses to give Lisa the key to let her out. Belle believes that if she gets pregnant by Sean, she will avoid going to prison. But they later drop the idea. Belle's brother, Sam Dingle (James Hooton), tries to run away with her to escape a prison sentence, but Dom tips off the police and Belle is remanded. During the trial, Belle is sentenced to three years in prison, but she is forgiven by Dom. Belle later wins an appeal and her sentence is reduced to one year. When Belle is released from prison, she finds it hard to adjust to normal life again. She becomes erratic, dyes her hair dark and befriends Lachlan White (Thomas Atkinson). Belle is later discovered by Harriet and Ashley Thomas (John Middleton) in the church, crying and covered in blood. Belle refuses to tell Zak and Lisa who attacked her. Belle considers trying to kill herself with painkillers, but she fails and breaks down in tears. Belle trashes David Metcalfe's (Matthew Wolfenden) shop and Edna Birch's (Shirley Stelfox) house. It soon emerges Belle is suffering from a mental health crisis, as she believes she can see and talk to Gemma. Lachlan offers Belle a legal high pill, which she takes and is relieved to discover that the voices in her head stop. Belle asks Lachlan for more of the pills, which he gives to her.
Belle is offered a job by Katie Sugden (Sammy Winward) on her new farm and Belle accepts. Belle's erratic behaviour worsens and when Katie witnesses Belle talking to an imaginary Gemma, Belle fights Katie and bites her arm. Belle locks herself in Katie's car and attempts to run down Zak. Belle tells Zak and Lisa that she has been hearing Gemma's voice since leaving the young offender's institute and she is referred to a psychiatrist. Belle later discovers that Katie has died and she believes that she was responsible for her death. Belle tries to kill herself, but is saved by her half-brother Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley). She is sectioned into a psychiatric unit until she recovers and returns home to her family. Belle's pony, Hamish, falls ill and has to be put to sleep. Belle goes into business with Kirin Kotecha (Adam Fielding) selling Granny Clegg's cordial drinks. Belle develops feelings for Kirin, but he wants to remain friends. Eventually, Belle and Kirin grow closer and begin a low-key relationship. They have sex, but realising that Kirin does not love her, Belle ends the relationship.
Belle witnesses Zak kissing Joanie Wright (Denise Black) and she destroys Joanie's bedsit by flooding the place. On Christmas Day, Belle throws insults at Zak and Joanie, finally revealing to the whole family that Zak and Joanie are having an affair. Zak and Lisa's marriage breaks down when he reveals he has fallen in love with Joanie. Belle confronts Joanie and spits in her face. She later slaps her across the face when Joanie insults Lisa. Belle tells Zak she is hearing voices to get her parents together again, but her plan fails. Lisa takes Belle out for driving lessons, after Belle refuses Zak offer to teach her. The family call a Dingle court, and the decision is made to excommunicate Zak from the household. Belle continues to support her mother as she adjusts to being a second-time divorcee, even encouraging her to make a fresh start with the family by her side.
Belle cuts her hand on some glass and encounters Dr. Jermaine Bailey (Micah Balfour), who treats her hand. She is attracted to Jermaine, but soon learns he is married. Belle steals Joanie's engagement ring and insults her, leading Joanie to slap Belle. Jermaine and Belle meet at the factory to have sex, and they start a fire when a candle is knocked into a bin. Zak is arrested as Rishi Sharma (Bhasker Patel) accuses him of starting the fire, but Belle admits it was her and she is sacked. Jermaine is called to check up on Lisa after an angina attack and finds out Belle is only 17. Jermaine ends the relationship, but they soon get back together. Belle confesses all to Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins), who takes her to the doctor for emergency contraception. Cain finds out about Belle's relationship and Jermaine gets Belle to admit to stalking him, so they can continue their affair. His wife, Angie Bailey (Nina Toussaint-White), becomes suspicious and questions Belle, who admits to having an affair with Jermaine.
Jermaine is fired from the surgery and when he plans to leave, Belle claims she is pregnant. Charity becomes suspicious of Belle and she finds out Belle is lying to keep Jermaine. Belle and Charity form a plan to pretend Belle has had a miscarriage. Belle begins talking to a friend from prison, Ellie (Ashlie Robinson), but she is one of Belle's visual hallucinations. Belle convinces Charity she is actually pregnant. Belle is asked by Joanie to be bridesmaid at her wedding to Zak, to which she agrees. Ellie manipulates Belle into pouring red wine on Joanie's dress and Lisa covers for her. Belle shows Jermaine a scan photo, which she took from Charity. Angie overhears Belle talking to Ellie and exposes her lies in front of her family. Belle suffers a breakdown in the café and is taken home by her parents. When the paramedics arrive, the family discover Belle has gone. The family search for Belle, who is living rough and tormented by Ellie. Lisa is angry with Zak when he fails to answer a phone call from Belle and she leaves a voicemail. A body is found by the police, who Lisa and Zak identify, but it's not Belle. Belle's sleeping bag is taken by three men, and out of desperation tries to steal a piece of toast from a customer's plate in a cafe. The cafe owner later tries to feed Belle, but she runs away when he talks to a police officer and she ends up collapsing from malnutrition and dehydration. Belle is taken to hospital and Lisa and Zak are informed, but when they visit, Belle lashes out at Lisa, thinking she will kill her. Belle is assessed and Zak, Lisa and Jermaine are told Belle is hearing more than one voice and Jermaine thinks Belle has schizophrenia. Zak and Lisa are informed that they want to send Belle to a unit in Surrey.
Belle returns over six weeks later to visit her family for the day.
Twins Emily and James Mather were cast as Belle after their mother, Joanne, was told the soap's producers were looking for babies to play a role in the show. She explained "My two had just been born so I contacted casting. When they saw Emily and James they liked them straight away and they made their first appearance when they were only 10 days old." The twins were brought in when the producers realised that the role would be too demanding for one child to play. Emily and James took it in turns to play Belle. Their mother was on-set all the time and chose which twin appeared on-screen.
As Belle grew older and her storylines increased, the new actress was sought for the part. After a series of auditions, Eden Taylor-Draper was cast as Belle and she began appearing on-screen in 2005.
It was revealed on 23 January 2014 that Belle would have a life-changing storyline later in the year which would see her unintentionally kill her best friend, Gemma Andrews (Tendai Rinomhota) after an argument gets out of hand. In March 2014, the character confessed and was charged with murder. In June 2014, the character was charged with manslaughter and later sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. This sentence was later reduced to 1 year in August 2014.
In March 2016, it was reported that Belle would fall for Jermaine Bailey, a local doctor. Taylor-Draper said of the storyline that Belle's relationship with Dr. Bailey "is an escape from her [Belle's] life" and that her character had "fallen for this guy". Taylor-Draper also stated she regards the storyline as a coming of age storyline for Belle.
For her portrayal of Belle, Taylor-Draper earned the Spectacular Scene of the Year award at the 2006 British Soap Awards along with co-star Luke Tittensor for the storyline where Belle and Daz fell down a mineshaft. The following year, she won Best Young Actor at the Inside Soap Awards. Eden Taylor-Draper then won the Best Child Performance at the British Soap Awards in 2013.
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- Kelly, Helen (23 March 2016). "Emmerdale Spoiler - Belle Dingle falls for Dr. Jermaine Bailey". Express. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (22 March 2016). "Shocl new Emmerdale romance? Belle Dingle will fall for older doctor Jermaine Bailey". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- Lindsay, Duncan (5 April 2016). "Emmerdale: Eden Taylor-Draper talks to Metro.co.uk about Belle Dingle's shock affair and what happens next". Metro. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
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