Francis "Frank" Clayton was the father of Vanessa Woodfield and Tracy Shankley. He was initially in prison for fraud but vowed never return to his old ways, although he had been tempted once or twice.
1954-2015: Early life and prison
Francis Clayton, Frank for short, was born on 9th April 1954. In 1957, aged 3, Frank won a painting competition at school. As an adult, Frank was initially with Vanessa's mother before leaving her when their daughter was 10 years old. He later went on to have Tracy with another woman in 1989 before walking out on them two days after returning from a holiday in Skegness in July 1998.
By the time Vanessa and Tracy arrived in the village he had completely lost contact with both his daughters and ended up in prison for fraud. In 2015, Vanessa wrote him a letter as she suspected he had sent her money and he replied by sending her a visitation order, however, she decided against seeing him. At some point during his sentence, he would share a cell with a man named Clive, who he taught the art of conning to.
2016-2017: Reuniting with Vanessa and Tracy
Frank first appeared in August 2016, when Tracy's boyfriend David Metcalfe visited him in prison in hopes of reuniting Frank and Tracy, so that Frank could attend their wedding. During the visit, Frank revealed he was being released early and had written to 'Teeny' about this. He also lied to David, telling him that he was incarcerated for defending a lady from a drunk man. Later, when David returned home, he told Tracy about his visit with her dad, but Tracy denied having received any letter and insisted her womanizing dad ruined her mum's life. Frank later contacted Vanessa, mistaking her for Tracy. Frank confused Vanessa when he asked about her impending marriage and Vanessa asked him to stop calling her 'Teeny' as he had lost the right to do so years ago, when she stopped calling him 'dad'.
Vanessa and Tracy then both received phone calls disclosing that Frank was in hospital. While friends Leyla and Rhona tried to convince Vanessa to go and visit her father, David convinced Tracy to do the same. Vanessa visited Frank and they discussed her son, Johnny and Frank saw pictures of his grandson. However, when Frank reminisced about a holiday in Skegness, this angered Vanessa, as she was not the child in Frank's story. As Vanessa went to leave, Frank's condition rapidly deteriorated. Meanwhile, Tracy arrived and asked a nurse about Frank, but backed out when she told her that she was the second lady to visit Frank that day. Vanessa then told Leyla about Frank's seizure and said she was glad she went to visit him, as he was now dead to her.
Tracy, meanwhile, admitted to David that someone else going to see her dad didn't bother her, but rather imagining him lying there broken did. She went on to visit him while he was unconscious and talked to him, going through Franks photos of him with a blonde-haired little girl. When Tracy returned home, she told David she was thrilled to have found pictures of them together when she was little. She asked David if Frank could stay with them upon his release until he got back on his feet, and David agreed.
On 23rd August 2016, Tracy and Vanessa both headed to the hospital to see their dad as he was taken out of his coma. When Vanessa arrived she was confused when a nurse explained a woman named Tracy was already there to see Frank. Her confusion turned to shock when she spotted Tracy sitting at her father's bedside. Vanessa confronted Tracy, demanding to know why she was by her father's bedside. At that moment, Frank woke up and Vanessa could not believe it when Tracy called Frank 'dad', and they realised they were sisters. Tracy questioned how Frank could allow her to grow up without telling her about her sister, as she'd always dreamed of having one and Vanessa admitted that she would've loved a little sister she could've looked after. However, Frank insisted that he would have loved for them to know each other, but that Vanessa's mother would never have allowed her near Tracy's mother. Tracy tells Frank that she and David were thinking of allowing him to stay with them, but not anymore.
Vanessa and Tracy were initially on bad terms with each other but made up when Vanessa attends Tracy's birthday party. Vanessa overheard Tracy telling Bernice about a present her dad got her for her birthday, and how he stole it back a few days later and when Tracy brought it up again at the party, saying how the best present she ever got was a barbie car that was stolen, Vanessa admitted that she got the car, as Frank took it from Tracy and gave it to her. Tracy then got drunk in the shop and admitted to David that she was jealous of Vanessa's childhood, and how she wanted Frank to love her. However, she stated that she didn't need her dad anymore, as she had him. The same night Vanessa phoned Frank, informing him he can stay at Tug Ghyll with her upon his release, on the condition that he sorted things out with Tracy, and that he treats both of his daughters equally.
Vanessa tried to tell Tracy off her new arrangement with their dad but was continuously interrupted and ended up agreeing to try to make up for lost time with her sister by forgetting Frank's existence. The following day, Vanessa returned to Emmerdale with Frank in tow and reminded him of her rules, they head to The Woolpack for a drink but ran into Tracy who was left speechless when coming face to face with father. Tracy couldn't believe Vanessa had kept Frank staying with her a secret and screamed that Frank could drop dead, just as Frank collapses. He was soon feeling better and asked Tracy to forgive him, but she walked out. Later, Tracy overheard Frank telling Vanessa she was all that matters to him infuriating her more. Tracy could not believe how easily Frank has won everyone around and while Frank decided to spend the day getting to know his daughters and grandson, Tracy framed him for stealing Eric Pollard's bankcard, causing him to be arrested. However, Tracy felt bad and later disclosed the truth to Eric who told the police that he had made a mistake. When Frank learned of this, he could not believe his own daughter hated him enough to send him back to prison and insisted despite him not being around much, that he didn't do anything to deserve that. Tracy then told Frank that the times he did bother to see her, she'd wished he didn't come and Frank insisted he wanted to see more of her, but realised she was better off without him. Tracy explained that he only gave her the belief that she didn't matter, now he's the one that doesn't matter to her. In September 2016, on Tracy and David's wedding day, Frank kidnapped Tracy, determined to make things right with his daughter. They got stranded in the middle of nowhere but Vanessa found them and they made peace, however, their cars didn't work, nor their phones and they struggled to get back to the village. They eventually managed to get a ride back on a tractor and Tracy made it to the church just in time to get married to David, with Frank and Vanessa by her side.
In November 2016, Frank took Megan Macey out on a date and ran into an old an acquaintance, Bobby. Bobby told Frank that he had lost everything due to his scams and blackmails him to bring him £5,000 the next day. However, when Frank was unable to come up with the money, Bobby started beating Frank with a cricket bat and stole the money for a cancer charity collected by Tracy and David, before fleeing the village. Subsequently, Tracy and Vanessa learned the truth of how he landed himself in prison. Vanessa was furious and refused to believe him when he insisted that he didn't steal the money. She then told him that she no longer wanted anything to do with him. To Vanessa disbelief, Tracy still trusted him and let him continue living at hers after Vanessa kicked him out. In January 2017, after Frank admitted his fraudulent past to the whole pub, Vanessa was convinced he would do a runner but was surprised when he owned up to his mistakes and stayed put. With Tracy's encouragement, she decided to give him another chance and eventually, the family grew close and both Tracy and Frank would end up moving into Tug Ghyll with Vanessa and Johnny at one point.
2017-2018: Fraud and relationship with Megan Macey
Frank and Megan soon started going out, even though she was first reluctant due to his shady past. However, he vowed since coming to Emmerdale not to return to his old ways but was since tempted on a number of occasions. In February 2017, he broke this vow and betrayed Megan's trust when he got involved in a scam at Home Farm with Charity Dingle. They scammed someone to steal diamonds inside Home Farm, without the Whites (who lived there) knowing. After the scam was successful, Charity and Frank slept together, and afterwards, when he demanded a share of what they would make Charity refused and threatened to tell Megan about what happened between them.
In July, Tracy overheard Charity and Frank discussing their one-night-stand and revealed her findings to Megan who was heartbroken and broke up with him. However, she later "forgave" and they got back together. Although unbeknownst to Frank, Megan had other plans. Wanting revenge, Megan planned to frame Frank for fraud, whilst fleeing the village with her daughter Eliza. Charity then caught wind and forced her way in on the plan. A few weeks later, the girls decided to go ahead with their plan, and the wheels were set in motion, but Megan got cold feet and prevented Charity from calling the police on Frank. Charity though, decided that this was what Frank deserved, and locked Megan in the pub cellar while calling the police. Frank was arrested later that day and knew that Megan had set him up. Megan who felt bad about what she had done confessed her involvement, making the police let Frank go. Although Frank was initially furious, he would later forgive her and they gave their relationship another go. They would continue to have an on-off relationship and eventually got engaged in May 2018, although their relationship remained rocky they kept coming back to each other.
In late 2018, Frank again returned to his past ways when he took part in a failed plot to sell fraudulent art with Leyla Harding's then-boyfriend Clive. Clive knew Frank from prison and Frank agreed to the plot in order to bail out his girlfriend Leyla and Megan's business Take A Vow, whose reputation had been tarnished by Leyla in Greece. When Megan discovered this, she broke up with Frank, though they would eventually reconcile a couple of months later.
2019: Death and legacy
On 1st August 2019, Frank sacrificed himself to save his daughter Tracy from a fire at the sweet factory. Earlier that day, the building had gone up in flames thanks to a terrible mistake from Kerry and Amy Wyatt, who unknowingly started a fire while destroying CCTV equipment in the building in means to cover up that Kerry stole charity money from the safe, which they were using to help Amy pay off a debt to an old acquaintance in Belfast.Frank discovered that the factory was on fire and that Tracy is inside the building when he went up to the factory after being fired. He rushes in to save her and eventually manages to bring her to safety but then rushes back retrieve the engagement ring that he brought for Megan - with the intent of proposing to her. Later, Frank smiled as he walked out of the factory but a sudden explosion threw him against a van and left him in a crumpled heap on the ground. The arriving paramedics instantly try to revive Frank as his daughters Tracy and Vanessa watch on and are horrified as the paramedics cease to continue CPR on Frank's non-moving body and he ultimately passes away in front of both his daughters and Megan along with several other residents.
Following the discovery of the stolen money, people's suspicions turned to Frank, as he had threatened Jai Sharma, the owner of the factory, the day of the fire and was in somewhat financial difficulty. Things got even worse when Kerry lied to the police in order to save herself and Amy, saying she saw Frank looking shifty before going to the factory the day of the fire. Only Tracy refused to believe it and was adamant that her father was innocent. On 15th August 2019 the police told Vanessa and Tracy that the investigation was closed, stating that all signs pointed towards Frank, and the body was released to the sisters who started planning their father’s funeral. However, Tracy soon found a receipt for an engagement ring and was convinced this was the reason Frank ventured back into the factory, becoming more convinced of her father’s innocence.
On 26th August 2019 Frank's funeral was held, however, the turnout was low as most villagers blamed him for the theft of the charity money and many workers losing their jobs at the factory. However, Megan, who finally got the ring from Tracy the day before, had a go at everybody there for not trusting Frank's innocence and shortly after left the village. Tracy continued her mission to prove Frank's innocent but was not long until both sisters were convinced that Frank was guilty. On 3rd October 2019 Tracy, and later Vanessa, learned the truth of Kerry and Amy's involvement in their father's death. When Amy and Kerry tried to stop Tracy from leaving and spilling their secret she shoved Kerry, causing her to bump her head and being taken to hospital. Tracy and Vanessa were furious and wanted to avenge Frank's death but decided against going to the police due to fearing Amy and Kerry would then reveal that Tracy was the one who caused Kerry's injury and tried to move forward.
|HMP Pitmoor||Until August 2016|
|Tug Ghyll||August to November 2016|
|Farers Barn||November 2016 to May 2017|
|Tenant House||May to August 2017|
|Farers Barn||August 2017 to February 2018|
|Tenant House||February to July 2018|
|Tug Ghyll||July to August 2018|
|Tenant House||August to November 2018|
|Tug Ghyll||November 2018 to May 2019|
|Tenant House||May to August 2019|
Behind the scenes
- It was actually Michelle Hardwick (Vanessa) and Amy Walsh (Tracy)'s idea for them to be sisters as they discussed in their dressing room that they looked similar and both had an unknown father in prison. They presented this to the producers who decided to act on the idea.
- Frank's favourite film was The Girl on a Motorcycle.
- Frank's favourite song was God Only Knows by The Beach Boys.
"Are you David? Then I'm Frank. Obviously I'd still be Frank even if you weren't David, but you get the idea." - First line, to David Metcalfe.
"You go ahead, go go go! I'll be right behind you. Go go, go!" - Last line, to Tracy as he urges her to get out of the burning factory before he heads back into the fire-filled room.