Emmerdale Cain through the years

Emmerdale: Cain Dingle voted best character of all time for 50th anniversary

It's a Dingle top three in the big 50 characters countdown

Emmerdale favourite Cain Dingle has been crowned the soap’s best ever character as the soap reaches its 50th anniversary,

Entertainment Daily invited its avid soap readers to choose their favourite figure from a carefully selected shortlist of 15.

A whopping 40% of Emmerdale fans voted for bad boy Cain Dingle.

Emmerdale favourite Cain Dingle looking sad
Emmerdale favourite Cain Dingle is officially the soap’s best ever character according to fans (Credit: ITV)

Delighted Emmerdale star Jeff Hordley, who plays Cain Dingle, told ED!: “Thanks to all those who have voted for him. Cain has been a joy and an honour to play for such a long time.”

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who else has made the list?

Read on for the top 50 countdown of the best Emmerdale characters of all time!

Nicola looking angry on the phone
Her years on the show have changed Nicola (Credit: ITV)

50. Nicola King

Councillor Nicola King was once a flirty, manipulative daddy’s girl who was heartbroken when her scheme to trick boyfriend Carlos into marrying her went wrong.

Nicola had lied that she was pregnant but Carlos was sleeping with her sister, Bernice. Awks!

She went through more men than the villagers have had hot dinners, including marrying a wealthy older man called Donald De Souza – though her plan to murder him for his money also went awry!

Nicola got together with Jimmy King in 2009, and found herself pregnant with daughter Angelica. Since then she’s also taken on Jimmy’s sons Elliott Windsor (whose mum is Kelly Windsor) and Carl Holliday and loves them like her own.

Nicola was injured in a fire but pulled through and recently has been fighting PTSD after a vicious beating.

Bob Hope
Bob’s affair with Laurel wasn’t popular (Credit: ITV)

49. Bob Hope

Much-married Bob is seen as a joker around Emmerdale but he’s had his fair share of dramas in his time too.

Bob had been married four times before he even arrived in the village, then tied the knot with Viv Windsor and Brenda Walker – twice.

He lost his daughter Dawn Woods in the Kings River explosion, and his stepdaughter Donna Windsor also died.

He’s supported Brenda through her brain tumour, and the murder of her daughter Gennie, and coped with losing his home and his livelihood.

His affair with Laurel Thomas wasn’t a hit with fans, but since then Bob’s been winning over viewers again with his good-natured quips.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Belle Dingle
The sister of Cain Dingle, Belle was born on the show and has been in Emmerdale ever since (Credit: ITV)

48. Belle Dingle

Belle arrived in Emmerdale when her mum Lisa – who didn’t know she was pregnant – gave birth in a pigsty. Aww.

Her brother is the top Emmerdale character Cain Dingle!

Belle’s grown into a smart, confident young woman who’s faced her mental health struggles with bravery.

And yes there was the little matter of her accidentally killing her friend.

And yes her romance with Lachlan White was… ill advised.

But she’s on an even keel now – even if that means giving Chas and Al an ultimatum about their sordid affair.

Marlon and Tricia Dingle in Emmerdale
Marlon and Tricia were happy together (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

47. Tricia Dingle

Tricia Stokes was the granddaughter of Woolpack landlord Alan Turner.

The cheeky, good-natured Londoner won over viewers but she rubbed Bernice Blackstock and Mandy Dingle up the wrong way! For a while, at least.

Tricia tied the knot with Aussie Joe Fisher – who was gay and in a relationship with Paddy’s cousin Jason Kirk – so he could stay in the UK. And she eventually got together with the love of her life, Marlon and after a few hiccups (and Tricia’s divorce!) they got married.

Tricia and Marlon were apart for a while when she went to make a Bollywood movie (actress Sheree Murphy was pregnant at the time) and he had a one-night stand with his cousin Charity.

When he told Tricia the truth, she left.

But Marlon wrote a list of 101 reasons he loved her. Tricia was on her way back to him when there was a huge storm and she was killed when the chimney at the Woolpack collapsed. Sob!

Jasmine Thomas
The years in the Dales were dramatic for Jasmine – including an affair with Cain Dingle and his daughter Debbie! (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

46. Jasmine Thomas

Jasmine was the niece of vicar Ashley Thomas who came to stay in the village.

She quickly became the best friend, and eventually lover of Debbie Dingle. The teenage girls had an intense romance but Jasmine was torn between her attraction to Debbie and her feelings for Debbie’s dad Cain Dingle who seduced her to spite Debbie. URGH. She even got pregnant by Cain but had an abortion.

Later, Jasmine became a journalist and began investigating local mysteries.

When she started poking her nose into the dealings of crime family the McFarlanes, she met policeman Shane Doyle.

Shane was manipulative and sneaky and tricked Jasmine into sleeping with him. When Jasmine found out the truth about him, he lost his temper and attacked her.

Debbie arrived in the nick of time and whacked Shane over the head with a chair leg. He came round and it was Jasmine who hit him again, over and over. Shane died and the young women, together with Eli Dingle, wrapped up his body and dumped it in the lake at Home Farm. It was later found by a horrified Victoria Sugden.

Eventually, Jasmine confessed to the killing. She was sentenced to four years inside and she and Debbie swore their love would last forever.

It seems Debbie forgot that promise, though, as Jasmine’s never been mentioned again!

Jasmine was played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who went on to become a household name playing Clara in Doctor Who and the queen in Victoria.

Adam Barton
The wild Barton wasn’t keen on stepdad Cain Dingle (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

45. Adam Barton

Adam Barton was the son of Moira and John, though he later discovered his real dad was John’s brother James.

The tearaway Barton had a lot of dramatic storylines in his time in the show but he’s most fondly remembered for his bromance with Aaron Dingle. The pair stood by each other through thick and thin and fans loved it!

Aside from his best mate, though, Adam also had a sweet relationship and eventually marriage with Victoria Sugden. However, their romance was tested initially when Adam thought he’d fathered Johnny Woodfield after a one-night stand with Vanessa.

He later discovered Johnny wasn’t his baby, and found out he had fertility problems. This caused more troubles with his marriage.

Adam also struggled with his mum’s marriage to Cain Dingle.

Adam got mixed up with the huge Barton family dramas, when James’s unstable ex-wife Emma went on a killing spree causing the deaths if both husband James and son Finn.

Emma died when she was pushed from a viaduct and though her killer was later revealed to have been Adam’s mum, Moira, it was Adam who took the blame and went on the run.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Declan Macey
Declan got more and more sinister the longer he stayed in the village (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

44. Declan Macey

Smooth-talking businessman Declan Macey took over Home Farm in 2010.

He had an affair with Natasha Wylde and became mixed up in the death of her husband Mark. Eventually, Nathan Wylde – Natasha’s son – sold his share of the farm to Ella Hart unaware that she was Declan’s wife.

There was a lot more mess involving Declan’s daughter Mia who turned out to be Jai Sharma’s daughter instead and who was tragically killed in a car accident.

When the dust had settled, Declan got involved with Katie Sugden and the pair planned to wed. The romance was fiery with Declan becoming darker and even attacking his sister Megan.

Eventually, Katie discovered he’d had an affair with Charity and humiliated him at the launch of his new business.

Declan and Charity tied the knot later, though their relationship ended when Declan burned down Home Farm, tried to kill Charity, and then framed her for his murder.

That’s going to ruin a romance, eh? Declan wasn’t dead though and he fled Emmerdale.

Sadie King
Sadie King was one of Emmerdale’s best ever bitches – but she was set up by Cain Dingle (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

43. Sadie King

One of the best bitches to grace Emmerdale with her presence, Sadie King – played by Patsy Kensit – was married to Jimmy King when she first arrived in the village.

Sadie hated her father-in-law Tom’s fiancée Charity Dingle. And she wasn’t massively keen on Jimmy either.

She had an affair with Robert Sugden, slept with Cain Dingle, sabotaged Charity’s wedding, and generally made a nuisance of herself in the most fabulous way.

When she and Jimmy finally broke up it was revealed she’d been sleeping with her brother-in-law Matthew too. But Matthew chose the family business over Sadie, and heartbroken she plotted revenge.

She married Alasdair Sinclair but no sooner had she signed the wedding certificate, than Matthew declared his love. Tom disowned them and Sadie was left in poverty. And she didn’t like that!

Eventually she and Cain plotted to kidnap Tom but the scam backfired – for Sadie at least. She was left with a car, while Cain pocketed the cash.

Viv and Bob Hope with their baby twins
Viv was devoted to her twins (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

42. Viv Hope

Londoner Viv Windsor arrived in Emmerdale in 1993 with husband Vic, his daughter Kelly, Viv’s son Scott, and Vic and Viv’s daughter, Donna. They took on the Post Office and were immediately thrown into country life.

Viv was a larger than life character who made lots of friends – and enemies – in the village, but she was comforted by locals when Vic was killed in an armed raid.

Later, Viv struck up a romance with tights salesman Bob Hope and the pair tied the knot – twice in fact. Viv got pregnant with twins Cathy and Heath, but later was sent to prison for fraud after getting mixed up with con man Freddie.

When she was released, she and Bob tried and failed to reconcile. Poor Viv died in a fire at the Post Office and fans were annoyed when her funeral was held off-screen.

Joe Sugden
Joe Sugden appeared in the first episode of Emmerdale (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

41. Joe Sugden

The younger of Annie and Jacob Sugden’s two sons, Joe Sugden was named after his grandfather. He appeared in the very first episode of Emmerdale back in 1972.

Joe was upset when his father left the farm to his estranged brother, Jack, who’d moved away from Yorkshire.

Joe was injured in the plane crash and decided to go to Spain to be with his mum, Annie.

Later, word reached the villagers that he’d been killed in a car accident. He was buried in Emmerdale.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Dave Glover
Dave Glover was in love with Kim Tate (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

40. Dave Glover

Handsome Dave Glover was quite the catch in Emmerdale but it was lady of the manor Kim Tate who caught his eye.

Dave and Kim had a very steamy affair, even though Kim was married to Frank and Dave was engaged to Kathy Tate.

When their romance fizzled out, they went back to their partners and Kathy and Dave tied the knot.

But Dave was convinced that he was the father of Kim’s baby boy, James. So when he saw a fire in the nursery at Home Farm he bravely risked his own life to save the life of little Jamie.

The baby was saved, but Dave died of his injuries. And Frank Tate later proved that baby James was his son.

Rachel Hughes
Rachel died when she got involved with killer Graham (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

39. Rachel Hughes

Arriving in Emmerdale as a teen with her mum Kate and brother, Mark, Rachel grew close to stepdad Joe Sugden.

Rachel had a shocking affair with older married man Pete Whiteley much to the disgust of her family.

She was heartbroken when brother Mark was killed in the Emmerdale plane crash and later bonded with Chris Tate, who’d been seriously injured in the same incident.

Rachel and Chris fell in love and married, and Rachel had Chris’s baby, Joseph – named after her former stepdad because he died the day Joseph was born.

Her most dramatic storyline, though, was her relationship with sweet-natured schoolteacher Graham Clark. Very quickly it became clear to viewers that Graham was sinister and controlling and was creepily trying to make Rachel look more like his late wife, Rebecca.

Eventually Rachel decided to end their relationship as they had a picnic together.

Graham tried to force himself on Rachel and in shock she realised he’d killed Rebecca. After a dramatic clifftop confrontation, poor Rachel plunged to her death off a cliff when Graham pushed her.

Ross Barton
Ross was burned with acid and struggled to get past his attack (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

38. Ross Barton

Troublemaker Ross Barton arrived in the village with his dad James and brothers Finn and Pete.

He was a proper bad boy at first, starting by stealing Laurel Thomas’s car. But later he showed his soft side when he fell in love with Donna Windsor. He was devastated when Donna died and bonded with her daughter April.

Ross was revealed as the father of Charity’s baby, Moses, but he was also having a steamy affair with Charity’s daughter Debbie, who was engaged to Ross’s brother, Pete. Still with us? The affair was revealed on Pete and Debbie’s wedding day and began a feud between the brothers.

Later, Ross was the victim of a disfiguring acid attack – organised by Debbie Dingle but intended for someone else.

He struggled to cope with the aftermath of his attack but eventually grew close to Rebecca White, who was also recovering from a brain injury. The pair fell in love and left together with Rebecca’s baby son, Seb. Aww, we love a happy ending!

Amos Brearly
Amos was known for his impressive sideburns! (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

37. Amos Brearly

Long-standing landlord of The Woolpack, Amose Brearly, harboured a secret crush on Annie Sugden for years.

He was known for his magnificent bushy sideburns and his catchphrase “nay, Mr Wilks”.

Amos was one of the show’s original characters and his sideburns were due to actor Ronald Magill going to his Emmerdale audition while he was appearing in a play as an Edwardian character. He was persuaded to keep them by producer Kevin Laffan!

Amos proposed to Annie Sugden in 1975, though she turned him down.

He left to live in Spain in 1991 though he did return occasionally. And eventually Annie accepted his proposal 20 years later in 1995 and the pair moved to Spain together.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Andy and Katie Sugden
Andy and Katie Sugden were Emmerdale’s answer to Romeo and Juliet (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

36. Katie Sugden

Katie Addyman was Emmerdale’s answer to Juliet, when she started a teen romance with her very own Romeo, Andy Sugden.

The sweet pair got married but Andy didn’t know Katie had been having an affair with his brother, Robert. Ouch.

They spent years apart, and Katie’s life took an unexpected turn when she went into business with posh Perdita Hyde-Sinclair. Katie offered to be a surrogate but she developed feelings for Perdy’s bisexual husband, Grayson. When she found out Grayson had been lying to her, she signed her parental rights to her baby boy over to Perdita.

Later, Katie fell for another owner of Home Farm, Declan Macey and the pair tied the knot. But the arrival of her sister-in-law Megan’s son Robbie caused trouble for Katie.

Meanwhile, Declan slept with Charity and when Katie found out she exposed her husband at a business launch, humiliating him.

Katie rekindled her romance with Andy and they remarried but Robert was still being hurtful and Katie wanted revenge.

She followed her brother-in-law, and discovered his romance with Aaron Dingle. Desperate to stop the truth being revealed, Robert pushed Katie. She fell through the floor of the rundown farm and he left her to die.

Emmerdale Bernice
Bernice is unlucky in love (Credit: ITV)

35. Bernice Blackstock

Beautician Bernice Blackstock is one of Emmerdale’s most popular characters.

She’s gone from a sassy, flirty barmaid to working in the salon with Mandy Dingle, via running the Woolpack with her mum, Diane.

She’s suffered heartbreak when her marriage to Ashley Thomas broke down, as well as being cheated on by fiancé Gavin with another man – Jason Kirk, and having an affair with her sister Nicola’s fiance, Carlos.

Bernice struggled with motherhood to baby daughter Gabby and eventually left the village, leaving her baby girl with Ashley.

She returned for friend Tricia’s funeral, but left again to marry a man called Charlie. Bernice had another baby girl called Diane – DeeDee.

Bernice has also had a steamy affair with Andy Sugden, and married older man Lawrence White.

She almost married Liam Cavanagh but called off their wedding to care for Charlie, who’d been in an accident Australia. Since she returned to Emmerdale, Bernice has become a grandmother to Gabby’s son, Thomas.

Chas Dingle pushes away Carl King in Emmerdale
Carl tried to rape Chas and she thought she’d killed him (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

34. Carl King

A bad’un from the start, Carl King is soap’s best example of the baddies always being punished in the end.

He was charming and handsome but he cheated on our fave Chas Dingle and we cheered when she humiliated him by publicly jilting him at the altar.

But that was just the beginning.

Carl was a member of the King family – his dad Tom kept a close eye on Carl and his brothers Max, Matthew and Jimmy. There were a lot of reasons for the brothers to hate their dad so when Tom was killed, Carl, Jimmy and Matthew (Max had passed away before his father) were all in the frame.

But it was Carl who actually did away with his dad, though we viewers are the only ones who know the truth.

The villagers still don’t know!

Carl got away with the murder for ages until he was involved in a struggle with Chas Dingle during the dramatic 40th anniversary episode. Chas whacked him on the head with a brick and thought she’d killed him.

What she didn’t know was that Dales serial killer Cameron Murray found Carl later and finished the job.

Were we glad to see the back of Carl? Hmm. He may have been evil, but he was a lot of fun!

Chris Tate plots something in Emmerdale
Chris was resentful after the plane crash (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

33. Chris Tate

When he first arrived in the village with his dad Frank and sister Zoe, Chris Tate was something of a catch. Young, ambitious and rich, he had his pick of the ladies.

It was Kathy Merrick who caught his eye though and the pair wed. But their romance was full of drama and eventually Kathy planned to leave unaware Chris.

As she went to leave, though, a plane crashed on to the village. Chris was seriously injured when the Woolpack collapsed.

Kathy stayed with her husband, who was now in a wheelchair, but he was resentful. He bonded with Kathy’s best friend Rachel Hughes, whose husband had been killed in the crash, and they started an affair. Rachel got pregnant with little Joseph, and eventually she and Chris tied the knot.

Chris became increasingly unpleasant and money obsessed.

He and Rachel broke up, and he started getting involved in all sorts of murky schemes to increase his riches.

When Chris fell for Charity Dingle, no one was impressed, least of all his sister, Zoe who had developed feelings for Charity too. She and Charity began an affair and Zoe tried to blackmail Charity by spilling the beans to Chris. Chris, though, chose to marry Charity anyway.

When he found out Charity was having an affair with Cain Dingle (again), Chris was devastated.

Shortly afterwards he discovered he had an inoperable brain tumour and he started to plot against his wife. Knowing he was dying anyway, Chris took his own life and framed Charity for murder. She gave birth to Chris’s second son, Noah, in prison.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Joe Tate mops his bloodied lip in Emmerdale
Joe got on the wrong side of Cain Dingle (Credit: ITV)

32. Joe Tate

With both his dad Chris Tate and his mum Rachel Hughes having died, little Joe Tate was looked after by his Aunt Zoe. She who took him to New Zealand with his cousin, Jean.

But in 2017 a handsome stranger called Tom Waterhouse appeared in the village.

He swept Debbie Dingle off her feet and the pair began a steamy romance.

But it turned out Tom was really Joe Tate.

He’d come back to the village wanting revenge on Charity, who he blamed for his father’s death. When he revealed his real identity, Debbie was stunned.

But once everyone knew everything, Joe and Debbie rekindled their romance and planned to get married. But on their big day, Joe jilted Debbie.

It turned out Kim Tate was behind her step-grandson’s scheme and she was back in the village. Furious, Debbie’s dad, Cain Dingle, punched Joe and thought he’d killed him.

But Joe’s still alive and living abroad. Could he return one day?

Frank’s children were all pretty nasty! (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

31. Frank Tate

He was the head of the Tate family and spawned a dynasty of pretty manipulative, screwed-up kids!

Frank arrived in Emmerdale with his glamorous younger wife, Kim, and set about annoying just about everyone in the village.

Frank’s dramas in the village include divorcing and remarrying Kim, and her cheating on him more than once. His problems with alcohol, his reluctance to accept daughter Zoe’s sexuality and his power struggles with son Chris meant he was in the thick of the action for several years.

Frank was hailed a hero during the plane crash in 1993. He helped Jack Sugden rebuild the bridge and get the emergency services into the village.

But his time in Emmerdale came to a sad end when Kim faked her own death, framed him for murder and then showed up again! The shock gave Frank a heart attack and Kim watched him die at her feet. Harsh.

Eric is Emmerdale’s longest-standing character (Credit: ITV)

30. Eric Pollard

Former antiques dealer Eric is Emmerdale’s longest-serving character and his alter ego Chris Chittell the longest-serving actor. He’s been in the show since 1986.

Eric lost his second wife Elizabeth in the plane crash in 1993, and has gone from being a real villain with an eye for a scam to being the well-loved B&B owner he is today.

Eric’s biggest storylines include being tracked down by his estranged son David Metcalfe.

He also won fans’ hearts when he fell for the fabulous troublemaker Val Lambert and married her. His heartbreak – and ours – when Val was killed was brilliantly portrayed.

Now Eric is in a relationship with Brenda Walker – who’s played by Chris’s real-life wife, Lesley Dunlop.

Laurel Thomas
Laurel has suffered a lot of heartbreak in her time in Emmerdale (Credit: ITV)

29.  Laurel Thomas

She arrived in Emmerdale dressed as a bumblebee and she’s been a firm fixture in the show’s storylines ever since.

Laurel‘s dramas include marrying vicar Ashley and giving birth to baby Daniel – who tragically died as an infant in heartbreaking scenes that won praise for actress Charlotte…

Later the couple discovered Daniel hadn’t been their son. A hospital mix-up meant their son Arthur had been given to the wrong couple.

Laurel and Ashley split and she married Marlon Dingle but her alcoholism led to the break up of that marriage.

She and Ashley were reconciled and she supported him through his dementia diagnosis and gave birth to another child – daughter Dotty.

Now Laurel’s back together with her ex, Jai Sharma, and trying – quite unsuccessfully – to blend their two families.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Robert and Aaron have an intense discussion in Emmerdale
Robert had a dark side but his romance with Aaron Dingle won him legions of fans (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

28. Robert Sugden

Bad boy Robert was always at loggerheads with his adopted brother, Andy. He had an affair with Andy’s wife Katie and eventually he was responsible for Katie’s death – which led to Andy trying to kill him!

He was also part of one of Emmerdale’s best-loved couples when he met, fell in love with, and eventually married Aaron Dingle.

Of course, Robert was married to Chrissie White when he first fell for Aaron, but once that was cleared up there were no obstacles in their way.

Until his sister Victoria was raped and Robert attacked the man who’d assaulted her. He died and Rob went to jail. Now we know Rob wasn’t entirely to blame, but he’s still behind bars. For now, at least.

Rhona actress Zoe is married to Cain Dingle actor Jeff in real life! (Credit: ITV)

27. Rhona Goskirk

Vet Rhona was an occasional visitor to the village for a while in 2001/2002 when she covered at the vets’ surgery. But she became a regular character in 2010.

Rhona’s been involved in some extremely dramatic storylines in her time in the village.

She gave birth to baby Leo – whose dad is Marlon Dingle – and discovered he had Down Syndrome.

She became addicted to painkillers and discovered husband Paddy was cheating. After her love rival Tess died, Rhona started a romance with Tess’s widower Pierce Harris.

Pierce was a nasty piece of work and manipulated poor Rhona. They got married but on their wedding day, Pierce raped his bride. Rhona reported him to the police and Pierce went to jail, only to return to torment her further when he kidnapped her best friend Vanessa Woodfield.

Since then Rhona’s rekindled her romance with Marlon Dingle and the pair have built a family with son Leo, and Marlon’s daughter, April.

However, tragedy struck when Marlon had a stroke. Rhona’s been by his side throughout his recovery and the cute couple have now married.

Rhona is played by actress Zoe Henry, who’s married to Cain Dingle alter ego Jeff Hordley in real life.

Cameron Murray in the Emmerdale graveyard
Cameron was a sinister presence in Emmerdale (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

26. Cameron Murray

Every now and then a soap villain comes along that’s so sinister and scary that they become show legends – and that’s definitely Cameron Murray.

He arrived in Emmerdale and announced that he’d left his wife and kids to be with Debbie Dingle, who he’d met when she was working in Jersey. Deb wasn’t keen at first but eventually she and Cameron got back together.

Cameron and Debbie split for a while after she slept with Andy Sugden in order to conceive a ‘saviour sibling’ for daughter Sarah, and Cam started an affair with Chas Dingle.

When Carl King discovered the affair he started blackmailing the cheats.

Cameron became more and more desperate as Carl turned the screws and Cam’s money problems mounted.

His killing spree started when he came across Carl King lying on the ground, having been hit by Chas when he tried to rape her. Cameron saw his chance and finished him off!

When he confessed to his friend Alex Moss, he became worried that Alex could go to the police. So he killed him, too.

Eventually Gennie Sharma grew suspicious of Cameron and recorded him confessing to Carl’s murder. Cameron pursued Gennie and killed her too.

The story came to a terrifying climax in a tense siege at the Woolpack after Cameron had been jailed and escaped.

He kidnapped Sarah, held the pub customers at gunpoint and shot Alicia Harding.

Eventually Cameron, Chas, Marlon and Debbie were trapped in the waterlogged cellar of the pub, with the power flickering on and off. Their ordeal ended when Cameron was electrocuted.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Kathy Glover on her wedding day to Biff Fowler
Kathy was very unlucky in love (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

25. Kathy Glover

Also known as Kathy Bates, Kathy Merrick and Kathy Tate – Kathy Glover is one of Emmerdale’s most well-known characters. It made actress Malandra Burrows into a household name (and wannabe popstar, too).

Kathy was terribly unlucky in love.

She married Jackie Merrick and was heartbroken when he was killed in a shooting accident.

After a while, she found happiness again with Chris Tate. But after the plane crashed into the village and left Chris with terrible injuries he became bitter and unpleasant. Poor Kathy, who had been planning to leave him, decided to stay and grew resentful.

Eventually she and Chris split and Kathy fell for Dave Glover.

Dave, though, had been having a steamy affair with Kim Tate and he died when he rescued Kim’s baby James from a fire at Home Farm.

Widowed again, Kathy fell for Biff Fowler, but he jilted her at the altar.

See? Unlucky!

And that’s not the worst bit. After Kathy’s best friend Rachel Hughes died, Kathy grew close to her friend’s former boyfriend Graham, unaware that he had killed poor Rachel.

When Kathy worked out what had happened, Graham nearly killed her too. Wisely, Kathy decided to emigrate to Australia to be close to her niece, Alice Bates.

Zoe Tate Emmerdale
Zoe was a real fan favourite (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

24. Zoe Tate

Fan favourite Zoe Tate was the first lesbian character in a soap. She won hearts with her struggle to get dad Frank to accept her sexuality.

Zoe had a shocking affair with her brother Chris’s fiancée Charity Dingle. Zoe was heartbroken when she told Chris the truth and he chose to go ahead with his wedding anyway.

After a period of odd and dangerous behaviour, Zoe was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sectioned. Actress Leah Bracknell, who played the vet, won praise from viewers for her brilliant portrayal of Zoe’s mental health battle.

Later, Zoe found out she was pregnant with daughter Jean – she’d had a one-night stand with Scott Windsor. When she left the village for New Zealand, she took little Jean and her nephew, Joseph, with her.

Actress Leah Bracknell was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. She raised money for experimental treatment in Germany and later married her long-term partner Jez Hughes.

But sadly Leah died in 2019, when she was just 55.

Diane Sugden with a drink
Diane is back for the 50th anniversary (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

23. Diane Sugden

Woolpack landlady Diane Blackstock, as she was then, arrived in the village for her daughter Bernice’s wedding.

When things fell apart for Bernice and her fiancé Gavin, Diane decided to stick around and buy Gavin out of the Woolpack.

Diane’s storylines over the years included her marriage to Jack Sugden and the reappearance of her ex-husband Rodney.

She’s survived colon cancer and being stabbed by Chas Dingle. And her relationship with her sister Val Lambert even survived the revelation that Rodney was the father of Val’s son, Paul.

Diane was heartbroken when Val was killed in a helicopter crash in the village.

Diane left Emmerdale to live in Portugal but she’s making a guest appearance for the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Gerry and Liv playing video games
Gerry was a fan fave and we were devastated when he died (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

22. Gerry Roberts

Everyone loved Gerry.

He came to the village after meeting Lachlan White in Skipton Young Offenders. He became a firm fan favourite after striking up friendships with Liv Flaherty and Doug Potts.

Gerry was only supposed to be in the show for a few episodes, but proved so popular that he was asked to stay and he ended up winning the fans’ hearts with his likeable approach to life.

But while Gerry was determined to put his criminal past behind him, Lachlan’s was only just beginning. And when Gerry found out the truth about Lachlan’s murderous escapades it was clear his time was up.

The creepy teen caused the roof in the B&B to collapse on to his one-time friend. Poor Gerry became another of Lachlan’s victims. What a loss!

Once beloved, Chas is not well-liked right now, but will she pull together with brother Cain Dingle? (Credit: ITV)

21. Chas Dingle

Chas – short for Chastity – arrived in Emmerdale in typical Dingle fashion – dressed as a nun for cousin Marlon’s stag night.

She’s the daughter of Faith and Shadrach and the sister of Emmerdale legend Cain Dingle.

A year later she returned and fell in love with Carl King, despite his family’s disapproval. The pair planned to wed, but Chas was heartbroken when she found out he was cheating with Eve Jenson.

In revenge, Chas went ahead with their marriage plans but jilted Carl and took the money they’d saved for the wedding.

Since then her life in Emmerdale has been just as dramatic! She reconciled with her estranged son, Aaron, and supported him through the revelation that he’d been abused by his father. She also met and got to know her half-sister Gennie.

When Chas had an affair with her niece Debbie’s boyfriend, Cameron Murray, things got very dark. Cameron ended up murdering poor Gennie, among other people – including Carl King – and holding the customers at the Woolpack hostage in a dramatic armed siege.

Thankfully, after a run of bad boyfriends, Chas got back together with Paddy Kirk. They were surprised and delighted when she discovered she was pregnant and then heartbroken when they found out their little girl – Grace – wouldn’t survive. Chas’s grief at saying goodbye to her daughter won actress Lucy Pargeter praise from fans.

Chas eventually gave birth to another daughter, Eve, and she and Paddy tied the knot.

But now she is embroiled in a sordid affair with Al Chapman. We’re thinking that won’t end well!

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Mandy Dingle
Mandy came back to the village after several years away (Credit: ITV)

20. Mandy Dingle

Larger-than-life Mandy Dingle arrived in the village for cousin Tina’s wedding – she is also the cousin of Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle.

She fell in love with Paddy – though the family weren’t impressed – and Paddy’s mum was so horrified she offered to pay Mandy to marry her cousin Butch instead. Though Mandy and Butch tied the knot, the scheme backfired because she and Paddy got back together and eventually got married.

When Mandy cheated, their marriage fell apart and Mandy left.

She returned in 2019 for Marlon’s wedding to Jessie Grant, bringing along adopted son Vinny, followed by his dad Paul Ashdale.

Mandy and Paul reconciled and planned to get hitched. She was unaware that he was abusing Vinny, and covering up a return of his gambling addiction.

Paul was killed on the wedding day when Jimmy King drove his truck into the barn where the wedding was taking place.

Now Mandy’s running the salon and interfering, ahem, helping Liv and Vinny’s marriage.

Seth and Betty in Emmerdale
Seth and Betty rekindled their young love in their later years (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

19. Betty Eagleton

Betty was the gossip-loving, funny, caring heart of the village for many years. Having put her eventful – and somewhat dark – past behind her, she’d returned to Emmerdale, where she grew up and rekindled her romance with her one-time fiancé, Seth Armstrong.

Betty was fiercely loyal and never afraid to stand up for what she thought was right. She even buried her beloved Seth in the woods he loved, filling his coffin with bags of sand at the funeral.

Betty went to live in Australia  and though actress Paula Tilbrook passed away in 2019, Betty’s still alive and well.

Edna Birch
Edna wasn’t an easy neighbour to have (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

18. Edna Birch

Sharp-tongued, judgemental, devout Edna Birch was a surprising fan favourite.

Viewers loved her catty remarks – and they adored her devotion to her dog, Batley.

Edna made her disapproval very clear when vicar Ashley got together with barmaid Bernice Blackstock.

She was reunited with her Australian sister Lily Butterfield, and had some comedy scenes with Sandy Thomas. But it was her confession that her husband had been gay – and the lover of Lawrence White – that really shocked fans.

Edna admitted she’d reported Lawrence to the police and believed he’d killed himself in prison. So she was surprised to discover him alive and well in Emmerdale and pleased when they made peace with one another.

Jack and Diane
Jack married Diane and the pair were happy together (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

17. Jack Sugden

The sugden family were the focus of Emmerdale for many years – and there was no shortage of drama!

Jack was in the very first epiosde of the show when he returned to the village for his dad’s funeral.

He returned again in 1980 and discovered he had a son, Jackie Merrick, he’d never known about. He married Jackie’s mother Pat and had another son, Robert.

But Pat died in a car accident when Robert was just a baby. Later Jack married Sarah and had a daughter, Victoria,  and adopted Andy. But Sarah was tragically killed too, in a barn fire caused by Andy who thought claiming on the insurance would help the Sugdens’ financial woes.

Jack found happiness later in life with Woolpack landlady Diane Blackstock.

When actor Clive Hornby passed away, Jack was written out – he died peacefully in Spain when he was visiting his mum, Annie.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Annie and Amos at Joe Sugden's funeral
Annie was comforted by Amos at the funeral for her son Joe (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

16. Annie Sugden

Sugden matriarch Annie spoke the very first words in the show back in 1972 when Emmerdale began with the funeral of her husband Jacob.

Annie was a strong, Yorkshire woman – mum to Jack, Joe and Peggy – and a proud farmer.

The Sugden family owned Emmerdale Farm, which gave the show its name and which was at the centre of the action for many years.

Annie’s dramas over her time in the show included her rebuilding her relationship with son Jack, fighting an addiction to painkillers, and being injured in the legendary plane crash. Annie was in a coma for months after the plane crash and only came round when she heard granddaughter Victoria crying.

Though Annie was devastated to discover her second husband, Leonard Kempinski, had been killed in the crash. She did eventually marry again – this time to Amos Brearly, who’d loved her from afar for years, and they moved to Spain.

Sheila Mercier, who played Annie, died in 2019, and her death was written into the show with Annie passing away in August 2020.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who else is in the Top 15?

Emmerdale Top 15 Characters: Cain Dingle wins

Ashley Thomas
Ashley Thomas broke fans’ hearts when he was diagnosed with dementia (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

15. Ashley Thomas

Vicar Ashley was beloved by Emmerdale fans, despite his flaws (and there were a few of them!).

His romances and marriages to Bernice Blackstock and Laurel Potts won over viewers.

He cared for daughter Gabby alone after his break up with Bernice, and built a new family with Laurel. Ashley’s fans, though, were tested when the vicar struggled to look after his elderly dad, Sandy, and began abusing him.

It was his exit storyline, though, that won actor John Middleton the most praise.

Ashley was diagnosed with vascular dementia and John portrayed his alter ego’s slow decline with real heartbreak and care. Since then we’ve had glimpses of Ashley on home videos, and he’s often mentioned by daughter Gabby.

Zak Dingle
Zak’s the head of the Dingle family (Credit: ITV)

14. Zak Dingle

The patriarch of the Dingle family, Zak‘s been at the heart of the family drama for years. From his early days feud with Ned Glover, his romance with Lisa and their marriage and Belle’s surprise arrival, he’s been in the thick of things.

Zak’s often involved in Dingle scams and scrapes, but it’s not all fun and games. He’s also cheated on Lisa, leading to the end of their marriage, attacked son, Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle (and found out he was Cain’s dad!), gone through mental health troubles and buried two of his sons, Butch and Ben.

Actor Steve Halliwell‘s life has been almost as eventful, coming from a low point of being homeless and being on remand, and suffering health problems, to becoming one of Emmerdale’s longest running characters.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Kim Tate
The Queen of the Dales: Kim is one of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters (Credit: ITV)

13. Kim Tate

Kim Tate is the absolute queen of Emmerdale.

From the moment she arrived on the arm of her much older new husband, Frank Tate, she’s ruled the Home Farm roost.

And we love her!

Kim’s early stories revolved around her turbulent relationship with Frank and her affairs – most notably with Dave Glover. When Dave died in a fire, Kim was heartbroken. But she dusted herself off and went on with her manipulative ways.

Kim faked her own death to set husband Frank up for murder. When Frank discovered she was alive, he had a heart attack and Kim watched him die. Cold!

She later married Steve Marchant, and the pair got involved in all sorts of dodgy dealings. But of course Kim came out on top – framing Steve for the crimes she’d committed and escaping with all the cash they’d stolen.

When Kim returned to Emmerdale in 2018, she did it in typical Tate style, telling her secret husband Graham Foster to get rid of her step-grandson Joe Tate, and being pushed off a balcony by Faith Dingle. Nothing like making an entrance!

Since then Kim’s been reunited with her equally manipulative son, Jamie Tate, got mixed up with Al Chapman and managed to extract herself again, and met and fallen in love with Will Taylor.

She’s been heartbroken at Jamie’s death and bewildered when she discovered he was actually alive.

Now Kim’s preparing to marry Will Taylor, but we don’t predict that’ll run smoothly!

12. Andy Sugden

Andy wasn’t a Sugden by birth but he found a loving – if dysfunctional family – when he was adopted by his best friend Robert’s clan.

Most of Andy’s stories revolved around his teenage romance with Katie Addyman. He was also a young father to Debbie Dingle’s children, Sarah and Jack.

And then there’s his feud with brother Robert. Andy and Robert were at loggerheads for several years.

Andy fell for Bernice Blackstock, and then for Robert’s ex, Chrissie White. Though Bernice married Lawrence – Chrissie’s dad – she and Andy had a fling. When Chrissie found out she framed Andy for a crime he didn’t commit and he fled the village.

We’d love to see him back one day!

Moira Dingle
Mrs Dingle is known as Mucky Moira, but she was made to marry Cain! (Credit: ITV)

11. Moira Dingle

Moira was made to marry Emmerdale heartthrob Cain Dingle, in our opinion.

She’s outspoken, strong, and just as prone to cheating as he is – they’re perfect for one another.

Moira arrived in the village with husband John Barton and their kids Holly, Hannah – now Matty – and Adam.

She coped with the tragic death of both John – in an accident – and Holly – from a drug overdose. And the reveal that Adam was actually the son of John’s brother James.

Moira also had an affair with her sort-of-nephew Pete Barton, killed Pete’s dangerous mother Emma by shoving her off a viaduct, and gave birth to baby Isaac without even knowing she was pregnant.

She also had a sleazy affair with Cain’s long-lost son Nate. No wonder she’s called Mucky Moira!

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who else is in the Top 10?

Lisa Dingle
Everyone loved Lisa Dingle (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

10. Lisa Dingle

Long-suffering Lisa married Zak Dingle and took on his enormous, difficult, loving family – not least Emmerdale brooder Cain Dingle – with a huge amount of humour and, we can’t help thinking, bravery.

Lisa and Zak got married after she almost wed his brother Albert. They were taken aback when Lisa gave birth to Belle – having not even known she was pregnant!

And her biggest drama came when she made friends with a man called Derek Benrose at the sweet factory. Derek raped Lisa and though she bravely reported the crime, she was devastated when the police said they didn’t have enough evidence. Actress Jane Cox won hearts – and awards – for her performance.

Lisa suffered again when she realised Zak had fallen for their lodger Joanie Wright and the pair divorced.

Lisa went to live in Scotland but when she discovered she was dying she came home again. With Joanie having passed away, Lisa and Zak reconciled and had a family wedding celebration.

Lisa died later that day. Sob!

Val Pollard
We all loved Val’s escapades (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

9. Val Pollard

Where to start with Val Pollard?

We all loved her and fans were devastated when she was killed in the dramatic helicopter crash back in 2015.

Val was the sister of Diane Sugden, who arrived in the village and started causing trouble straightaway! She got together with Diane’s ex-husband but he still loved her sister. When he rejected Val, she announced that he was the father of her son, Paul – they’d had an affair when Rodney and Diane were married.

Val then got together with Eric Pollard and the pair got married but their romance was very fiery and had more than its fair share of ups and downs.

Val had a fling that left her HIV Positive. She later planned to fake her own death to get out of a looming prison sentence for fraud.

But the plan never came to fruition because Val was killed for real when she was impaled by a mirror in the helicopter crash.

Fans and Eric were heartbroken and both Val and actress Charlie Hardwick are much missed by fans and cast alike!

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who follows?

Charity Dingle
Charity is an all-round soap legend and has slept with more than one of her cousins – including Cain Dingle! (Credit: ITV)

8. Charity Dingle

Fiesty Charity is one of Emmerdale’s most legendary, and long-serving, characters. She’s been in the show since 2000, except for when she was elsewhere between 2005-2009.

At first Charity was a typical Dingle, involved in get-rich-quick schemes with her cousin and on/off lover, Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle. But since her arrival she’s grown into one of the show’s most interesting characters.

She’s been married three times – to Chris Tate (who killed himself and framed her for murder), Declan Macey (who tried to kill her) and Jai Sharma. And she almost married Vanessa Woodfield, more than once!

Charity’s been reunited with her adopted children Debbie and Ryan Stocks. She’s been to prison, faced her abuser – corrupt cop DI Bails – in court, and has generally become an all-round soap icon.

Meena kills Leanna in Emmerdale
Meena claimed a lot of victims, including Leanna, in her killing spree (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

7. Meena Jutla

Nurse Meena was one of the most entertaining serial killers ever to stalk the residents of Emmerdale.

Her cold-blooded killings of Leanna Cavanagh, Andrea Tate and Ben Tucker were shocking in their brutality. But Meena herself, with her habit of singing as she plotted to kill, and her clever, manipulative ways, was always fun to watch.

Ultimately, it was her fondness for taking a keepsake from her victims that was eventually her undoing!

Meena was the sister of Manpreet Sharma and had already killed her friend Nadine Butler before she came to Emmerdale.

Manpreet eventually grew suspicious of her sister, only to be imprisoned by Meena, along with Vinny Dingle. Meena was eventually sent to prison for her crimes, but we’re very much hoping she’ll reappear one day. Perhaps for the 50th anniversary?

Seth and Betty
Old flames Seth and Betty were such a great couple (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

6. Seth Armstrong

Seth was a proper soap icon. He propped up the bar at the Woolpack for years, offering observations on the goings on in the village.

When Seth first appeared in the show, he was a janitor at the school, and married to Meg.

As the years went by, Meg passed away and Seth was reunited with his old flame Betty Eagleton – as well as landing his dream job as a gamekeeper.

He was at the heart of Emmerdale for years, and we reckon his tankard is still behind the bar at the Woolie – just as it should be.

Paddy Dingle
Paddy took Chas’s surname when they married and he’s now Paddy Dingle, brother-in-law to Cain (Credit: ITV)

5. Paddy Kirk

Funny, caring vet Paddy has been married four times – to Mandy, Emily, Rhona and now Chas. He took Chas’s last name when they tied the knot, becoming Paddy Dingle.

But his most endearing and long-lasting relationship in the village is with his best friend Marlon. The pair are total #couplegoals!

Paddy’s seen some excitement during his time in the village but the least said about his affair with Viv Hope, the better.

He was also responsible for bringing evil Pierce Harris into Rhona’s life when he had a steamy romance with Pierce’s wife Tess who later died. Now Paddy’s oblivious to Chas’s affair with horrible Al Chapman and we can’t bear it. Wise up, Paddy!

In real life, Paddy actor Dominic Brunt is married to Joanne Mitchell – who’s currently playing Sandra Flaherty in Emmerdale.

Marlon Dingle
Actor Mark Charnock has won praise for his portrayal of Marlon’s recovery from his stroke (Credit: ITV)

4. Marlon Dingle

Much-married Marlon is the most romantic of the Dingles. He’s been married five times – most recently to Rhona Goskirk, the mother of his son, Leo.

Chef Marlon’s been through a lot in his time in Emmerdale from losing first wife Tricia in a tragic accident, to finding out he was a dad to April when his second wife Donna returned and revealed she was dying. And supporting his third wife, Laurel, through her alcoholism.

Marlon’s faced his biggest challenge recently when he suffered a devastating stroke.

His determination to walk down the aisle to marry Rhona left viewers tearful, and actor Mark Charnock – who plays the stressed chef – has won acclaim for his performance.

Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle is at Number 1 – but who else is in the Top Three?

Faith Dingle
We’re going to miss Faith so much – and so is her son Cain Dingle (Credit: ITV)

3. Faith Dingle

Oh Faith.

What a brilliant addition she has been to the Dingle clan from the moment she rocked up to the village.

Her romantic mishaps (erm, Dan) have made us laugh, while her attempts to build bridges with her children, Emmerdale brooder Cain Dingle and Chas Dingle, have made us cry.

Her cancer storyline has delivered some of the most memorable moments in soap history. When she first revealed she’d had a double mastectomy and looked at her scars in the mirror, the soap – and actress Sally Dexter – were praised by fans.

Since her most recent terminal diagnosis, Faith has kept us entertained with her final ‘to do’ list.

Her last scenes were poignant and heartbreaking and we will miss her dearly.

Aaron Dingle
The nephew of winner Cain Dingle, Aaron returned to Emmerdale for the 50th anniversary (Credit: ITV)

2. Aaron Dingle

Aaron is the son of Chas Dingle, nephew to fellow Emmerdale fave Cain Dingle. For several years he was a troubled teen who came to Emmerdale occasionally as his mum tried to build a relationship with him. But when he moved to the village permanently he found himself right at home.

Aaron got himself in trouble with a local drug family the Macfarlanes, but settled down. When he tried to kiss his mate Adam Barton, he realised he was gay.

He fell for Jackson Walsh, but when Jackson was catastrophically injured in an accident, Aaron helped his boyfriend take his own life.

Aaron’s next romance was with Robert Sugden and as Robron the pair won legions of fans.

But though they did eventually get married, their romance was pretty toxic and even led to the death of Katie Sugden.

Robert, though, did support Aaron through the revelation that he’d been abused by his dad Gordon Livesy.

They were separated when Robert went to prison and Aaron moved on with Ben Tucker. But Ben was murdered by Meena.

After all that trauma, it’s little wonder Aaron decided to depart the village in 2021 for a new life abroad. He has since returned for a visit for the 50th anniversary, but how long will he stay for?

Cain Dingle
And the winner is… Cain Dingle! (Credit: ITV)

1. Cain Dingle

Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle has been at the heart of the Dingle drama in the Dales for more than 20 years (with a short break between 2006-2009).

In that time he’s been reunited with daughter Debbie who was adopted after her teen parents couldn’t care for her, and his grown-up son Nate.

Cain discovered his Uncle Zak was really his dad. He’s also had a couple of VERY questionable relationships (Amy Wyatt and Jasmine Thomas), and a few unlikely ones (vicar Harriet Finch and police officer Angie Reynolds) as well as meeting his wife Moira.

He’s been involved in several brutal attacks – both by him and against him.

Cain has fathered two sons – Kyle and Isaac – and he’s a doting, if a little bit surly, grandfather to Sarah, Jack and Frankie.

More recently he’s reconciled with his dying mother, Faith.

He was by her side when she died in heartbreaking scenes, but how will he cope with his grief now she’s gone?

Speaking to Entertainment Daily, Jeff Hordley told us: “I am delighted Cain has won best character.

“Thanks to all who have voted for him.

“Cain Dingle has been a joy and an honour for me to play for such a long time.

“I have been blessed with wonderful storylines and script writers and brilliant actors to bounce off.

“I’ve particularly enjoyed the current storyline with Faith in the 50th and the consequences that come after. I hope you enjoy it.

“Here’s to another 50 years!”

Read more: Complete Emmerdale cast list 2022 – meet them all here!

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Emmerdale usually airs weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV, with an hour episode on Thursdays.

Is Emmerdale favourite Cain Dingle the soap’s best character? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think!

Kerry Barrett
Freelance Soap Writer