Emily Kirk (née Wylie, previously Dingle) had lived a sheltered life with only her strict father in her life. Having lost his wife when Emily was just two, John was fiercely protective of his little girl and brought her up to be afraid of the outside world. But when she took a job at Viv Windsor’s post office, Emily's life was transformed.
A total misfit, Emily was drawn to fellow oddball Butch Dingle but had to cope with her father's disapproval. Despite the problems that faced them, Emily and Butch were deeply in love and it looked like they were going to get their happy ever after. Sadly, fate got in the way. Butch was seriously injured in a bus crash that left him clinging to life. As it became clear he wouldn’t make it, Emily and Butch seized their moment and had an emotional wedding at his hospital bed before Butch died. Alone again, Emily kept a low profile until she met a sweet-natured local lad called Ed. Everyone thought Ed and Emily were perfectly suited, but she didn’t feel a spark between them. However, on a night she was supposed to be seeing Ed, Emily ended up sleeping with close pal Paddy Kirk and the second most important relationship of her life began.
Like Emily, Paddy has also been married to a Dingle - Butch's cousin and, bizarrely, ex-wife Mandy - and their relationship went from strength to strength. Having got engaged, Paddy and Emily sprung a surprise marriage on the village when their close friends Marlon and Tricia called off their own nuptials at the last moment.
Now married again, Emily was desperate for children and she and Paddy became foster parents. After a couple of false starts with three foster children (Jacob Burleigh, Chantelle and Carly Burgess), the couple were delighted when they forged a close bond with Debbie Jones. But when it was revealed that Debbie was the daughter of Charity and Cain Dingle, Emily was left bereft. However, she remained close to Debbie and supported her through tough times. Although their marriage seemed rock solid, Paddy and Emily were having big problems. Having lost the passion in their relationship, Paddy began looking for it elsewhere and started an affair with Emily's boss, Viv.
When she discovered their deception, Emily was heartbroken and threw her husband out, then had a complete nervous breakdown and smashed up the Post Office in a rage. Having lost everything, Emily decided to leave the village unless she received a sign to stay.
That sign came when Daz Eden arrived in the middle of the night, begging her to help Debbie who was having a baby alone in the woods. On arriving, Emily found Debbie with a baby that was losing the fight for life. Her quick thinking saved baby Sarah's life and Emily decided to stick around. However, life at the Dingles wasn’t a barrel of laughs for Emily. Unable to cope as a mother, Debbie left the childcare to Emily – who loved being so actively involved in Sarah's life. But, her presence began to rile Debbie's violent dad Cain. When he attacked Emily for interfering, she decided she’d had enough and made plans to move away.
However, for Debbie, the thought of losing Emily was too much to bear. She knew she didn’t want to be Sarah's mum and that Emily did, so she begged her friend to take the baby. After much soul-searching, Emily did and left Emmerdale. Cain rushed to find her after getting a lead that she’d gone to Ireland but by the time he got there, Emily was gone.
Emily returned to the village on 15th October 2006. Local schoolgirl Victoria Sugden had spotted movement in the now abandoned house in which the Wylies had lived. She was branded a child-snatcher and was ignored by the village. Although during 2007, she became more a part of village life. Emily tried to commit suicide on one occasion but was stopped by former brother-in-law Sam Dingle, who soon developed (unreciprocated) romantic feelings for her. After disastrously making a pass at Ashley Thomas, his wife Laurel tried setting her up with Bishop George Postlethwaite.
Thanks to Bishop George, they both discussed possible training processes on becoming a vicar, but others in the village believed that the two were seeing each other. On 7th December 2007, Emily said goodbye to the Dales and went to Manchester to be a vicar.
Emily returned briefly on 3rd March 2008, for the soap's Paul Lambert and Jonny Foster's commitment ceremony. She also offered her condolences to the Thomases, who had lost their baby son, Daniel. She also attended Daniel's funeral and left shortly afterwards.