Emmerdale comp image of Matthew Wolfenden as David Metcalfe and Charley Webb (Credit: ITV/Cover Images /Comp ED!)

David’s never returning to Emmerdale – and we don’t blame him! Here’s all the scandals that followed him and alter ego Matthew Wolfenden

He's stayed strong through marriage break-ups, surprise babies, and a cancer battle

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Serial monogamist David Metcalfe in Emmerdale was never without a beautiful woman on his arm. And alter ego Matthew Wolfenden also had a co-star wife during his time in the Dales.

As the soap confirms he is never returning after a tense call to Eric, just what happened to David? And why did Matthew Wolfenden really quit the soap last year?

David and Eric are close now (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

When did David Metcalfe arrive in Emmerdale?

David came to the village looking for his estranged dad, Eric Pollard. Eric had left David’s mum before he was born, stealing a hefty wad of her cash into the bargain.

When Eric finally discovered David was his son, he wasn’t happy. He even did a secret DNA test that mistakenly proved David wasn’t related to him.

But eventually the pair discovered they were father and son and they began building some bridges. Though Eric’s habit of swindling and manipulating the locals played havoc with David’s romances with Delilah Dingle, Katie Sugden and Jasmine Thomas.

David also had a tempestuous relationship with Nicola King – then Nicola De Souza – with both of them cheating on the other. This is definitely one they’d both rather forget – and indeed, it seems they have because they rarely speak to each other at all now.

David married Alicia (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Love triangle between David, Leyla and Alicia

David fell in love with sassy Leyla Harding, who worked at Eric’s factory. The pair were building a life together until Leyla revealed she had a secret son – Jacob Gallagher.

Leyla’s sister Alicia was bringing Jacob up. The news almost broke the couple up especially when David discovered Jacob’s father was Leyla’s brother-in-law. Oops.

Alicia came to the village and stayed even when Leyla left heartbroken David on the eve of their nuptials, with her wedding dress and a lot of debt.

David grew close to Alicia and Jacob. When Alicia was sent to prison they got married so Jacob could stay with David. However, while Alicia was inside, David fell in love with Priya Sharma.

David and Priya share a daughter (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

The Woolpack siege

When evil Cameron Murray held drinkers hostage at the Woolpack, Alicia was shot. David realised he loved her and called off his relationship with Priya to be with Alicia.

Priya discovered she was pregnant with David’s baby. But it didn’t stop Alicia and David getting married. Then Leyla arrived back in the village on their wedding day, but even that didn’t derail their plans.

Priya gave birth to a baby girl, named Amba. Alicia and David eventually split after Alicia was assaulted by Lachlan White and wanted to leave the village.

David went through a battle with testicular cancer (Credit: ITV)

David in Emmerdale diagnosed with cancer

In 2016, David persuaded his dad to go to the doctor because he was having a few troubles that David was worried about.

Eric only agreed if David went too. Although Eric was given the all-clear, David was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Jacob supported David through his treatment, bringing the father and son even closer. By now, David was married to Tracy Shankley and she also supported him.

Maya Stepney and David

After David’s marriage to Tracy fell apart, he started a relationship with Jacob’s teacher, Maya Stepney.

Perfect on paper, David had no idea Maya was grooming teenager Jacob, and starting an illicit relationship with the lad.

At Christmas 2019, David and Jacob found a baby boy on their doorstep with a note from mother Maya asking them to take care of him. David soon discovered he was the baby’s father – not his grandfather.

He named his new son Theodore Eric and after a shaky start, he became a devoted single dad to the little lad.

Emmerdale's Meena putting on a performance in court
Meena was a serial killer (Credit: ITV)

David Metcalfe and Meena Jutla in Emmerdale

After Maya, David began a relationship with Meena Jutla. However a good few months into their relationship it was revealed to viewers she was a serial killer.

Meena murdered her own father and best friend Nadine Butler before her time in the village. She then went on to kill villagers Leanna Cavanagh, Andrea Tate and Ben Tucker.

Eventually David fell for Victoria Sugden and planned to dump Meena for Vic, but when Meena found out she tried to drown an unconscious Victoria at the bottom of a waterfall.

However Vic survived and she and David started a relationship together – leaving Meena even more hungry for a kill.

David Metcalfe gets down on one knee and proposes to Victoria Sugden
David proposes to Victoria (Credit: ITV)

How many times has David been married and how many kids does he have?

Altogether David has been married three times – twice to Alicia Gallagher and to Tracy Shankley. He also proposed to Victoria, but she turned him down.

He has three children Jacob, Amba and Theo. Although Jacob is not his biological son, he has always treated him as his own, even after his break up with Alicia.

David says goodbye to his friends and family on Emmerdale
Heartbreak forced David out of the village (Credit: ITV)

David’s Emmerdale exit

After splitting up with Victoria and having to have his dad buy his beloved shop off him to save it going under, David felt like he had little left in Emmerdale.

Things changed when he thought Victoria wanted to get back together. However he then discovered she was just being friendly. In fact, she was secretly dating Jacob!

When David saw them kissing through the window, he went mad, comparing Vic to Maya. But Jacob remained firm he and Victoria were meant to be together.

Unable to cope with the revelation, David left the village to spend time in London with Priya and Amba. However, he has now called to say he is never coming back, leaving Eric heartbroken.

But we can’t say we blame him after all he’s been through!

Matthew Wolfenden’s real life off-screen

Actor Matthew Wolfenden played David Metcalfe in Emmerdale. He departed the village towards the end of 2023 after 17 years on screen.

His time in the Dales was not without its own controversy. From a secret wedding, to an on-set fight, plus his divorce from former co-star Charley Webb, he had quite the time.

David Metcalfe and Victoria Sugden fight for their lives in Emmerdale waterfall scenes
Matthew and Isabel were reportedly filming this storyline when it all kicked off (Credit: ITV)

Why did Matthew Wolfenden leave Emmerdale?

During an interview with This Morning after his exit was revealed, Matthew told them he was off because: “It feels like the right time. The door’s left open, they’re not killing me off, I’ve been promised. I’m allowed to tell you that. So who knows, I might be back, we will see.”

However, rumours were rife that in fact his decision was as the result of an on-set feud while filming Emmerdale’s big week in 2021.

In November 2021, The Sun reported that Matthew and co-star Isabel Hodgins were involved in a row and bosses were forced to intervene.

Matthew and Isabel were reportedly travelling with Aaron Anthony (Ellis Chapman) when they were caught up in the row.

The source claimed: “It left a lot of those present at the filming feeling uncomfortable. It was a very heated situation. Tempers were running very high. It was tense and bosses got to hear about what had gone on very quickly.”

It was also claimed that Matthew and Isabel took a break from filming so bosses could investigate what went on.

One insider added: “While they were on set a comment was made which unintentionally caused offence, and an argument broke out among some of the cast members.

“This was a massive deal for all of them and obviously everyone was under pressure to make scenes work.”

Emmerdale Feb 7 Ellis has had a job offer abroad, and tells Al he's taking the job
It was suggested Aaron Anthony left following the argument (Credit: ITV)

Emmerdale race row reports

Later that month, new reports emerged that the clash was actually between Isabel and Matthew and Aaron.

The Sun alleged there was a comment made, plus the mimicking of a mixed-race co-star’s accent. The co-star was not identified.

A source told the publication: “It is common knowledge on set that Matthew and Isabel are not filming at the moment following a complaint.

“This all came about after a conversation between them and another actress – during which the alleged remark was made.

“An accusation was also made that the actress’s accent had been mimicked.”

The source added: “We have been told that Aaron brought this up with Matthew subsequently and that there was a tense conversation between them. Matthew and Isabel stopped filming afterwards.

“Emotions have been running high on set ever since. But no one knows what to believe.

“The female cast member who was involved is filming as normal. But she wishes that she wasn’t entangled in it.”

Aaron, who was the second actor to play Ellis Chapman, left the show in February 2022. It was reported he quit the show over what had happened.

What did Emmerdale say about the situation?

Emmerdale released a statement when the initial reports emerged.

They said: “While we would never comment on individual cases, Emmerdale has robust policies in place to deal with any allegations brought to our attention and take the appropriate steps.

“Neither actor has been suspended from Emmerdale.”

When later asked about Aaron’s exit, a spokesperson added: “We don’t comment on cast contracts.”

Meanwhile, Matthew and Isabel were said to both categorically deny the allegations, believing there had been a misunderstanding.  However neither ever addressed the matter publicly.

Matthew Wolfenden and Charley Webb smile together
Emmerdale co-stars Matthew and Charley were together for 15 years (Credit: Cover Images)

Matthew and Charley Webb

Matthew began seeing Charley Webb, aka Debbie Dingle in 2007. They got married in a secret wedding in 2018 after telling their friends they were invited to Charley’s 30th birthday party.

The couple have three children together – Buster, 13, Bowie, eight and Ace, their youngest, who is four years old.

Rumours began to circulate the couple were on the rocks last summer when Matthew unfollowed her on Instagram and she was seen without her wedding ring on. Then in November 2023 Matthew and Charley confirmed they had ended their marriage.

Revealing the news on their individual Instagram pages, Charley and Matthew shared a similar statement to announce their split.

Charley wrote: “It is with love and respect that Matthew and I have decided to separate. We remain friends and our priority is the love for our children.

“For their sake we would appreciate privacy at this time. C x”

Charley Webb's Instagram story announcing the split
Charley asked for ‘privacy’ (Credit: @miss_charleywebb via Instagram stories)

Matthew Wolfenden’s new girlfriend

Not long after the split, Matthew was reportedly seen on a date with a mystery woman. She was then revealed to be Heather Scott-Martin – who was his co-star in Elf: The Musical in London’s West End.

Newspaper stories circulated that Matthew and Heather had got together before his marriage to Charley ended. However he soon took to social media to call the reports “an out and out lie”.

Matthew said: “Just to set the record straight… This (so called) reporting by the Daily Mail is an out and out LIE!”

He highlighted a line in the article which suggested their romance had started before Matthew’s split from Charley. He also played the song Tell Me Lies on his Instagram Story.

Matthew, 43, added: “Can you leave us alone now? And shame on anybody who believes anything that these red tops report!”

Earlier this year, he once again went on social media to ‘set the record straight’. Matthew said: “Just to set the record straight once and for all… and hopefully this will be the end of it, and the end of me getting horrible messages on socials, and people saying nasty stuff to me in the street.

“1: It was NOT my decision to end my marriage.

“2: I met Heather (who I was pictured with in London) way after my marriage ended.”

He went on: “Hope this clears stuff up for all the trolls out there.”

Read more: Who’s leaving Emmerdale in 2024?

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Emmerdale usually airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays.

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Kerry Barrett
Freelance Soap Writer