Emmerdale Wiki
Emmerdale Wiki

Douglas "Doug" Potts is the father of Laurel Thomas and Caroline Swann and the ex-husband of Hilary Potts. He is also the grandfather of Arthur and Dotty Thomas.


2007-2009: Arrival in Emmerdale[]

Doug is the father of Laurel Thomas. He and Laurel's mother, Hilary, come to the village for the first time in late April 2007 to visit their daughter but after they leave, they are involved in a car crash. Doug suffers minor injuries but Hilary is in a coma for several weeks. Laurel immediately goes to look after her father despite being heavily pregnant with Ashley Thomas' baby. Doug tells Hilary after she recovers that Laurel had moved in to take care of him and the house while she was ill.

In September 2007, Doug and Hilary returns to meet their new grandson, Daniel. However, Daniel tragically dies of cot death in February 2008 and Hilary asks a devastated Doug to contain his grief for Laurel's sake, and he confides his true feelings to Pearl Ladderbanks. Hilary and Doug leave the village after Laurel bans Hilary from attending a memorial service for Daniel. They return a couple of weeks later. Laurel and Hilary resolve things and Hilary and Doug move in with Ashley and Laurel.

In April 2008, Hilary discovers that Daniel was not Laurel and Ashley's biological son and when she confides her suspicions to Doug, he is reluctant to believe her but she is later proved to be right. Hilary falls out with Laurel over this and leaves in May but Doug stays to support Laurel, and gets a job at Eric Pollard's furniture factory.

In August 2008, Doug makes plans to reunite with Hilary, who had been on a long holiday to Cuba but she telephones him and asks for a divorce. Doug begins suffering a midlife crisis and buys himsef a new sports car and sleeps with Bonnie Drinkwater, a friend of Val Lambert's. Laurel and Ashley tricked Bonnie into leaving the village, but she had unwittingly caused more problems for Doug. In the village shop, Brenda Walker notices him scratching his crotch, and assuming he is a pervert, calls the police. Doug is arrested but released without charge when it is revealed he had an STI, passed on to him by Bonnie. The news spreads around the village and Doug feels humiliated. Laurel reassures him that they would both laugh about the event sometime in the future. Doug disagrees but laughs with her.

Doug begins building a relationship with Brenda but her daughter, Gennie, realises that Brenda has feelings for Bob Hope. Brenda initially denies it but eventually ends her relationship with Doug, and begins dating Terry Woods instead. Brenda and Doug continue to be friends, and in early 2009 they form Emmerdale Explorers, a playgroup for the local children. They receive some funding from Natasha Wylde, but they disagree repeatedly over her son, Will attending the group. Eventually, Doug returns her money.

Doug begins to resent Terry's involvement in the Explorers project, and his jealousy is further increased when he learns that Brenda intends to buy half of Bob's business. Doug convinces Terry and Bob that Brenda only wants to buy into the business to try to win Bob's heart. When Bob reneges on the deal, a furious Brenda pours a pint over Doug's head. Doug later apologises for interfering.

2009-2011: Relationship with Diane Sugden and departure[]

Doug continues to work at the factory until Eric Pollard is forced to close it down. As a result of the credit crunch, Doug realises that people did not want new soft furnishings. Doug is disappointed to lose his job but finds a new one, running the Home Farm Fayre shop in the village with Leyla Harding. In March 2010, Doug becomes attracted to Diane Sugden and asks her out but she turns him down. Doug is unhappy when Charlie Haynes, a friend of Diane's ex-husband, Rodney Blackstock, arrives in the village and begins a relationship with Diane. Fearing Charlie is a con-artist, Doug informs Diane of his suspicions, but Diane does not believe him. In July 2010, Diane discovers that Charlie has fled the village with her money and she forgives Doug for not believing him, but tells him she does not want a romantic relationship. Diane and Doug remain good friends and Doug offers Diane a loan when she faces financial problems as a result of Charlie's actions. Diane is reluctant to accept at first but eventually does so and Doug is pleased to have helped her.

In January 2011, Doug tells Diane that he is seeing a woman, but does not reveal details. Doug eventually tells Diane that his new girlfriend is Hilary. He asks Diane to not tell Laurel and explains that he wants to give his marriage another go. On 11th February, Doug tells Laurel that he is going on a cruise with Hilary. He also tells Laurel that he intends to move back in with her at their old home. Laurel is reluctant at first but eventually accepts her father's decision. At the same time Diane realises that she does have feelings for Doug after all and invites him to a romantic meal at The Woolpack. He tells her of his plans and she is disappointed. On Valentine's Day, as Doug is about to leave, Laurel and Val arrange for Doug to meet Diane at the pub. Diane tells Doug that she regrets turning him down, and pleads with him to stay and give her another chance. But Doug is dismissive, telling Diane that had Charlie not been a conman then she would have gone to Spain with him and that he was not the sort of man she wanted and that he did not want to settle for second best. Doug then leaves and says farewell to Laurel, Ashley, Leyla and Ashley's father Sandy. As he is leaving the pub, Diane follows him outside and wishes him well. They embrace and bid each other farewell, parting on good terms. Doug then gets into his waiting taxi and is driven out of the village. 

2014-2019: Return[]

Doug returns to the village in September 2014 for Laurel's wedding to Marlon Dingle, and subscuently moves in with the couple and their children for a while. He reveals to Laurel and Marlon that Hilary has begun a relationship with an Italian man named Alberto. He rekindles his relationship with Diane, and his friendship with Leyla. He starts a vlog about gardening and builds up a fan base, however other residents find this silly, which humiliates Doug.

In early 2015, Doug starts noticing that Laurel is drinking more than normal, and soon realises that she has descended into alcoholism. He tries to stop Laurel from drinking, but his actions result in Laurel throwing him out, forcing him to move in with Diane. Doug's worries for Laurel's health grow when in April she is hospitalised after choking on her own vomit after drinking two bottles of wine. He mentions his concerns regarding Laurel's drinking to Diane numerous times.

In July 2015, Doug is upset to hear that Hilary has died from heart failure. He attends her funeral but is furious when Alberto acts as if he knew Hilary for longer than he did, despite Doug's almost fifty-year marriage to Hilary. In December 2015, Diane is stabbed by her colleague Chas Dingle, who is sleepwalking due to her undiagnosed PTSD, and Doug is later heartbroken to learn that Diane's cancer has returned in her stomach, which would never have been found if it weren't for the stabbing. Doug supports Diane as she decides to sell her share of The Woolpack.

In February 2016, Doug finds out that Laurel is remarrying Ashley, which concerns him due to Ashley's condition; he has dementia. Laurel later miscarries her and Ashley's baby, and Doug realises he does not agree with Ashley and Laurel's marriage, and tried to talk Laurel out of it, but this only results in a rift in their relationship. They later reconcile on Laurel's hen night party in March, where Doug also discovers Laurel is still pregnant. Doug witnesses Laurel and Ashley married the following day. Their happiness is shortlived as Ashley suffers a "mini-stroke" which results in him losing months from his memory, leading him to believe he is still dating Harriet Finch. Doug gives Laurel a shoulder to cry on, but Ashley suddenly and miraculously remembers his wedding.

In March 2016, Diane is off to Spain to look after a sick family member. Beforehand, she and Doug had invested in Eric's B&B becoming co-owners alongside Eric. At the same time, Diane has sold her share of the pub to returning Charity Dingle, a relative of Chas', who promises to get the money for the share. However, Doug doesn't trust her, a view which Chas shares, and they warn Charity not to screw them over. For the time being, Doug assisted Chas and Charity behind the bar whenever he could before going to Spain to help Diane look after an ill Annie Sugden.

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2020: Departure to Australia[]

In early February 2020, the Thomas family were devastated to hear Ashley's father Sandy Thomas had passed away in Australia. The family, along with Doug, travelled to Australia for his funeral and Doug ended up having a great time over there, not wanting to leave. When they returned home a few weeks later, Doug revealed to Laurel that Betty Eagleton had offered him Sandy's old apartment and he wanted to move there. Doug did have doubts but decided to go. On 27th February 2020, Doug left his life in Emmerdale for new adventures in Australia.

In July 2023, Doug was unable to attend Laurel's wedding to Jai Sharma due to him breaking his hip.

Other information[]

  • Doug supports Luton Town FC.
  • Doug was a fan of Elvis - in December 2002 Laurel says that her dad says "Elvis is god".

Background information[]


"I'll say!" (first line, to Betty Eagleton)

"True friendship doesn't come too often in a lifetime. So whatever you have to face, it'll be easier with your friends by your side." (to Gabby Thomas and Liv Flaherty)

"You try to stop me." (last line, to Brenda Walker when she asks him to keep in touch)

See also[]

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