Moira Dingle (née Boyd; previously Barton) is the mother of Holly, Adam and Matty Barton as well as Isaac Dingle, the sister of Mackenzie Boyd, the widow of John Barton and currently the wife of Cain Dingle.
1971-2009: Early life, marriage and motherhood
Moira Boyd was born in Scotland on 25th April 1971. She and her younger brother Mackenzie grew up in an abusive home and their father would regularly be violent towards their mother. In 1989, Moira's father discovered his wife was having an affair with his best friend Tony after finding Tony's watch in their bathroom. In a rage, he confronted his wife over dinner. Moira feared her father would kill her mother so she claimed she was the one sleeping with Tony to protect her. After being shunned by her family, Moira fled to England where she met farmer's son John Barton. After a whirlwind romance, Moira married John on 6th January 1990 and within a year she was pregnant. Moira and John welcomed their first child, a daughter whom they named Holly, in May 1991. Being first time parents took its toll on Moira and John's relationship, and when Holly was a few months old, Moira slept with John's brother, James, whilst drunk. Nine months later, Moira gave birth to her son, Adam. Moira put all doubts regarding her Adam's paternity to the back of her mind as she believed in her heart that John was his father. Two years later, Moira and John expanded their family again when their second daughter, Hannah, was born.
2009-2011: Arriving in the village
In July 2009, Moira and her family moved into Butlers Farm, Emmerdale. On their first day on the farm, the Bartons came face to face with former tenant farmer, Andy Sugden, who was suffering a breakdown at the time and believed he still lived at the farm. John assured Andy that the farm was in good hands and Andy's step-mother Diane Sugden was called to collect him. A few days later, John enlisted Andy's help when a dozen sheep went missing and subsequently offered him a job despite Moira's misgivings. Andy was even allowed to stay in a caravan at the farm during the busy times. Moira was concerned when Hannah started developing a crush on Andy as the locals had filled her in on Andy's chequered past, which included being responsible for the death of his adoptive mother and abusing his second wife. Upon witnessing distressed Hannah running from Andy's caravan, Moira fired Andy on the spot and ordered him off the farm. After speaking to embarrassed Hannah, Moira realised she had jumped to the wrong conclusions so she apologised to Andy and offered him his job back.
Diane hired Moira as a barmaid in The Woolpack in late August. She was an instant hit with the regulars, although not with chef, Marlon Dingle, as Moira had critisized his food. Marlon's nose was put further out of joint when Moira took over the kitchen when he was unavalible and her tempoary menu went down well with the regulars. Diane became fed up of the atmosphere between Marlon and Moira so she deicded to get Moira to help out Marlon in the kitchen, hoping this would resolve their issues but this only made things worse. Things got so bad that Moira decided to quit which Marlon was made to feel guilty about. Marlon called round at Butlers Farm to apologise to Moira and managed to persuade her to return to work. Moira and Marlon's relationship began to improve and they became friends. Moira supported Marlon as he divorced his estranged wife Donna Windsor-Dingle which lead Marlon to develop a crush on Moira which she soon picked up on. Marlon admitted to Moira that he was falling in love with her. Moira was flattered but explained nothing was going to happen between them.
Moira continued to work in the Woolpack, making more friends as time went on and becoming a great staff member and confident to landlady Diane Sugden. Soon though, Moira revealed her nasty side as after months of torment and bullying, her daughter Hannah revealed the wicked torture she had been enduring by Victoria Sugden and friend Kayleigh, after confronting Victoria in the pub where the two families were having a meal together. However, Moira and Diane soon made up and continued to be good friends, with Hannah and Victoria also building bridges in their friendship.
When Edna Birch's granddaughter, Eve Jenson, arrived in the village and started working for the Bartons as their farmhand, Eve's constant flirting with John made Moira suspicious, but Eve reassured her that nothing was going on, even finding it amusing. Although Moira began to dislike her new farmhand, she put Eve's flirting down to her personality and thought her husband couldn't cheat. John, however, kissed Eve in the back of his car and was spotted by Cain Dingle. Cain visited Moira in The Woolpack and told her what he had seen, but Moira refused to believe him and went home to confront John. When she got home she told John what Cain had told her and John confessed that he and Eve had kissed but said there was nothing to it and he loved Moira. Moira, however, told John if he could kiss her he might as well have slept with her and she told him to get out of the house. After that, however, they reconciled and continued to battle their eldest daughter, Holly's continual drug problem. A little later, Moira could not bear to see Holly suffering, so she bought heroin and supplied her daughter with it. She was caught and cautioned by the police.
Moira finds out about her son, Adam's affair with his girlfriend's mother Ella Hart, she demands Adam to finish with Ella, but they decide to carry on with the affair, since then Moira has given Ella a number of dirty looks and has told her to back off from Adam. Ella's husband Declan Macey discovers the affair and goes mad, Adam comes back home to John and Moria, which then Moira makes Adam come clean to John about the affair, John's not happy about this because it could affect the deal he has with Declan about the farm, but Adam ensures that the farm will be safe.
John and Moira's relationship becomes strained, especially when Cain reveals Moira is paying him in installments for a Land Rover. Moira goes to the garage to confront Cain, but she ends up having sex with him. Moria and Cain then begin an affair. Moira tells Diane she is having an affair with someone she hates and Diane works out it is with Cain because of the way Moira acted around him. Moira begs Cain not to tell John about the affair however he does so by taunting him about a birthmark that was on her thigh and John throws Moira out. She leaves to stay with her mother but later returns and then goes to stay with Marlon Dingle. She is desperate to make amends with John and her children however they refuse to speak to her. John allows her to come to the farm to help with the finances for the business.
2011-2013: John's death
Moira is concerned and worried when John is arrested for Cain's brutal attack in December 2011 and temporally moves back into the farm to support her children. During the Christmas time, Adam and Moira start to bond again and he begins to forgive her. Moira is devastated when John bans her from spending Christmas with them so she puts their presents in the barn. Adam, Hannah and Holly eventually forgive her and try to help her reconcile with John. However, Moira is devastated when John starts flirting with her friend and boss Chas Dingle. Chas goes on a date with John, upsetting Moira. On Chas' return, they argue and Moira slaps Chas. Chas then blurts out that John couldn't go through it as he really loves Moira. Moira tells John that she will agree to a divorce if that is what he wants, but John tells her it is not. Moira and John reconcile and their children book a night at a hotel for them. While driving, John loses control of the car as he hits some black ice and the car falls down a hill. Moira manages to free herself from the car with help from John and Declan. However, Moira cannot free John and the vehicle falls over a cliff. John is rescued and rushed to hospital, where he undergoes surgery. Shortly after Moira tells John that she loves him, he dies.
Moira is devastated by John's death and the children try to help her around the farm. Hannah struggles with her studies, while Holly blames Moira for John's death. After turning to drugs again, Holly begins seeing a counsellor and is later offered a job in London. Hannah announces that she is bored of village life and wants to go with her. Moira initially refuses to let her go, but later relents. Her farmhand, Alex Moss comes to stay at the farm, after his house floods. Moira and Alex begin an affair and try to conceal it from Adam who is best friends with Alex. However, when Victoria confronts Alex about who he has been seeing, Moira reveals that it was her. Victoria later reveals the affair to the rest of the village.
Cain makes a deal with Moira that if Alex works at the garage then his father, Zak can have Alex's old job at the farm. Moira sees Cain's vulnerable side and the couple begin seeing each other late 2012, disgusting Adam who blames Cain for John's death. However, they split when Cain goes on holiday without telling her and she realises he isn't responsible. She then goes on a date with Dominic Andrews and thus pleasing Adam. However, Cain 'kidnaps' Moira after stealing Dom's motorbike and pretending to be Dom. Moira is at first fuming, however, her hate soon turns into passion and they sleep together.
2013-2016: Relationship with Cain Dingle
On New Year's Eve, they announce their relationship by kissing in the Woolpack. Adam disproves of the relationship and starts giving Moira grief about it. In April, Moira learns that she is pregnant with Cain's baby but she soon miscarries. Cain then moves in with Moira after his daughter Debbie becomes too difficult to handle.
Adam, still angry at Cain and Moira's relationship, tries to set Cain up. He notices a bit of flirtation between a Cain and a girl called Natalie. Adam sets up a party and pays Natalie to sleep with Cain. Cain realises what Adam is up to and pushes Adam against a wall and threaten him. The following day Adam finds out about Moira's miscarriage and tells Cain he's glad Moira lost the baby. Cain then punches him but is stopped by Zak before things escalated. Adam then shows his mum his black eye and tries to persuade Moira to leave Cain. She sides with Cain and Adam leaves the farm.
In late 2013, Ross Barton, son of John's brother James Barton interrupted Cain proposing to Moira at the farmhouse after he arrived to avoid the wrath of gangster drug dealers who had shot him in the shoulder. Realising his family connection, Moira offered Ross a place to stay for a few days until he was able to move on. Shortly afterwards, James and his other son Pete Barton along with Ross would become temporary longterm tenants at Butler's Farm after losing their own farm in December. Soon afterwards, the Bartons went into business together and Cain began to become suspicious of James's motives for staying at the farm. His suspicions were soon proved to be correct when on the evening of a big business deal at a hotel, James admitted to Moira that he still had feelings for her as he had done in the past. Moira turned him down however and later confessed to Cain that James had admitted to her that he had feelings for her. Assuring him that she did not feel the same way, Moira proposed to Cain on 10th February 2014. Cain Surprises Moira with their wedding on her hen party and then a week later on 15th May they got married on the same day as Charity and Declan in the barn. However there one point that Moira is scared because when 18 she had slept with James Barton, John's brother and then 9 months later had Adam and James did a DNA test and found out her was biologically his son and said to Moira he tell but did not.
In March 2016, The police inform Moira and Cain that there is a stolen Ferrari in the village. When they were driving home that day, a flock of sheep scattered onto the road. When Cain and Moira tried to get the sheep back into the field, Moira spots the Ferrari. Unexpectedly, it was Charity Dingle that got out of the car. Cain quickly fixed the damage to the car and got Charity's clothes and belongings out the boot of the car and tumbled them into the mud. Once the Ferrari was fixed, Moira got in the Ferrari in order to take it back to the dealership. That was just moments before the police arrived on the scene.
2016: Holly's return, splitting from Cain and Holly's death
About a fortnight after Charity returned from prison, somebody stole Cain's car. Moira pulled up into a lay-by when her and Cain saw his car speeding right by. The driver parked the car in the middle of a field and tried to do a runner. Cain caught up with the driver, pulled the ski mask from their head to reveal who the driver was. Moira was stunned to learn that it was Holly. She returned from London and stole Cain's car so she could sell it. Holly's reason was to get the money so that she could pay £2,000 to a gang of thugs who followed her home. The following day, Charity plans with Holly to rob the Woolpack safe. When they put their plan into action, Holly triggers the fire alarm. Charity gets everyone outside whilst Holly goes down to the basement where Cain's sister Chas keeps the safe. Holly enters the key code and opens up the safe. Moira appears from behind some boxes. She reveals that Charity told her Holly is trying to rob money from the safe.
Holly bought drugs from Simon McManus, her drug dealer. She took a dangerous drug and suddenly collapsed unconscious. She was found in the Cemetery later on that day by Ross and Pete. Now Moira was at the point of sending Holly to Rehab, but they said she can't get seen for at least 4 weeks. Moira found out that Cain deleted a message on her phone when Holly was calling for help. Cain's excuse was that he deleted the messages so that him and Moira wouldn't have to split up. Cain walked away from Moira because she had chosen Holly over him.
Holly agreed to do a drug test. The packaging says if the test comes back positive, Holly had taken drugs. And if it is negative, she hasn't taken drugs. She forged the test by using the urine of Cain's son Kyle Winchester. This meant that the test came back negative. Moira said if the test comes back as negative, it will be the last test the Holly does.
About one month later, Simon attacked Victoria in her Diddy Diner van. Holly steals some money from the van to pay a gang of thugs. When Holly was driving home one day, she fell asleep at the wheel of the diner van. When she realised someone was coming the other way, she swerved the van and accidentally crashed it into a wall. When Holly didn't return home, Moira and Adam went out looking for her. Adam found the van crashed into the wall, but there was no sign of Holly. She suddenly appears from behind the van. Victoria asked Adam to put a lock on the back door of the van. On Holly's day off, she went into Hotten and bought some stuff for Victoria, thinking it might make her feel safer. When she got home she showed the to Moira. It was a small tin of runny red spray paint and a dealing noise box. When Victoria was at the van when she shouldn't be, she heard someone rattling the back door. She kicked the door open and opens fire with the spraypaints. It was James' youngest son Finn Barton.
Holly suddenly confessed all to Moira. She confessed that it was Simon that attacked Victoria. She confessed that she used Kyle to forge the drug tests. And above all, she confessed that she is still taking heroin. Moira pretends to forgive her, but she locked her in her bedroom. James heard her screaming for help. James was ready for letting her out, but Moira told her not to until she is clean.
At the end of July 2016, Holly didn't return home. James and Moira barged into Simon's house, thinking that she might be there. Simon tries to get Moira out of his house, repeatedly telling them that Holly isn't there. Moira reaches out to punch Simon, but Simon manages to push her back, making her fall onto the carpet. She is stabbed in the back of her elbow with a used heroin needle. James pin Simon up against the wall, threatening Simon not to touch Moira again. Moira pulls the needle from her elbow, in severe pain. She finds out that she has been diagnosed with a contracted HIV condition. Moira starts taking her first lot of her HIV medication. Moira agrees with Holly that if she stops taking meth and heroin, things can be great for them both. Moira starts to get terrified. She then gets a phone call from Cain, telling her that he will be returning home from visiting his daughter Debbie Dingle and her kids Sarah and Jack in France. That made Moira feel a little bit better.
When Cain returns home, he finds the medication. He assumes that Holly is back on drugs. Moira tells him that they are her medication, revealing to Cain, Holly and Adam that she has been diagnosed with a contracted HIV condition. Cain then went out that night. He kissed Charity several times. They were caught by Chas. That night, Cain took Moira to bed and confesses all. Moira kicks Cain out for the night. He slept in a car parked at the garage, awaiting repair. Cain called back round to collect his belongings. He moved back into Wishing Well Cottage with Lisa Dingle, his other sister Belle Dingle and her boyfriend Jermaine Bailey.
Moira eventually finds out she doesn't have HIV, with an enduring Holly by her side. Following this, Moira files for divorce from Cain, even though she still loves him. Their divorce is finalized in September 2016. Then, Moira makes the decision to sell Butler's, finding that having lived in Emmerdale for seven years, it's brought her nothing but suffering. James puts in an offer for the farm, but later opts to buy Wylie's Farm upon Emma's insistence. Moira and James kiss while driving to a farming convention, which is later discovered by Ross. He agrees to keep silent about it, but only because he knows what Emma would be capable of if she knew.
At the end of September, Moira was confident that a new dawn was in sight for her, despite Holly and Adam's protests. However, while she appears to be on cloud nine, Moira is soon struck with a sudden and inexplicable tragedy. Holly comes in early in the morning after a night out with friends. As the morning goes on, Moira continues to shout Holly to get up, even leaving a cup of tea by her bed without even checking if she's there. Eventually, Moira goes to wake Holly up herself, only to fail, and then discover that she is cold, and has blue lips. Checking for a non-existent pulse, Moira is left absolutely distraught as she comes to the horrifying realization that Holly has died, and she finds what appears to be a heroin wrapper on the floor, and so Moira concludes that Holly had a relapse, one which would end her life. Moira is found by Chas and Diane, and an ambulance is called. Adam and Victoria are both informed, and so Adam spreads the news to the rest of the village, including Cain who is shaken by the tragic turn of events. When the private ambulance takes Holly's body away, a distraught Moira chases after it until Cain appears and Moira breaks down in his arms. Holly's funeral takes place two weeks later. Moira asks Cain to stay away but she can't help but look out for him as the service goes underway. Adam supports her as they say their final goodbyes to Holly. Moira doesn't see that Cain is watching from a distance. The following week, Moira is devastated by James' death after he succumbed to his injuries following a motorway collision caused by Emma.
Moira starts drinking heavily as a means of coping with her grief over the loss of Holly and James and admits to Cain that she had a one-night stand with Pete. Cain is devastated and angry but after an intense and bitter row, they sleep together.
2017-2018: Birth of Isaac and reuniting with Cain
In 2017, Moira and Ross set up a chop shop at Butlers as a means to raise money to keep the farm afloat as well as for Sarah's cancer fund.
In October 2017 Moira shockingly went into labour during a barn fire at Butlers without even realising she was pregnant, during a fight between her and Emma. A small explosion inside the barn caused crates to fall on Moira which trapped her. Emma didn't believe that Moira was in labour and was prepared to leave her there before Moira blurted out that Emma's son Pete was the father of her unborn child. Emma helped Moira escape from the burning barn and assisted in the delivery of Moira's baby boy. After giving birth, Moira haemorrhaged and fell unconscious. When she came around in hospital, Moira was surprised to learn that she had given birth but was alarmed to learn unstable Emma had snatched her newborn. Moira let herself out of the hospital and went searching for her son. He was eventually found in the church by vicar Harriet Finch.
Once the baby was returned to the hospital, Pete asked Moira if the baby could be given Finn as a middle name after his recently deceased brother but Moira devastates Pete when she admits that he may not be the father. Pete angrily informs Moira's estranged husband Cain Dingle that he may be the father. Meanwhile, on 6th October Emma was pushed off the Hotten Viaduct, falling to her death, and Moira subsequently became a suspect in her murder. Afterwards, Moira was acting suspicious and struggle to bod with her son. On 10th October 2017, a DNA test proved that Cain was the baby's father, although Cain initially didn't want anything to do with his son. Moira was concerned that he wouldn't stop crying took him to the hospital. Deciding motherhood was too much to bear, she left the baby at the hospital and returned home. When Cain's mother Faith Dingle discovered what Moira had done, she took Moira to the hospital and made up a story to cover Moira's back. Faith also told the nurse that the baby's name was Isaac. Moira opened up to Faith about her fears that she would mess this baby up like she thought she did with Holly, whose death she felt responsible for. Moira continued to struggle to bond with Isaac and palmed him off at any opportunity. Things came to a head after Isaac's christening in November 2017, when distressed Moira crashed her son Adam and his wife Victoria's meeting with an adoption agency and handed Isaac over to them to raise as their own. After a heart-to-heart with his mother Faith, Cain stepped up and became a proper father to Isaac. He promised Moira he'd take care of their son and love him enough for the both of them until she's ready to be his mum.
O 14th December 2017 a series of flashbacks showed that Moira truly was the one who killed Emma. As Moira was driving she noticed Emma on the viaduct and heads up to confront her. Emma starts talking about and insulting her daughter Holly, saying she would still be alive if had Moira done more to stop her heroin addiction, forcing a reaction from Moira, who pushes her. Casting back to present day, Moira explains that she cannot undo her actions because it was impossible and confesses to Cain that she killed Emma, causing them to grow closer. On 21st December 2017, Moira confesses to the police that she killed Emma. However, when Adam discovers this, he makes a false confession. Adam is taken back to his cell and Moira is released. On 2nd January 2018, Cain and Aaron break Adam out of a prison van and flee the country, upsetting Moira who wanted to clear her son's name.
As Moira and Cain grow closer, Cain's girlfriend Harriet soon becomes jealous of the amount of time Cain has been spending with Moira. On 16th January 2018, Cain tells Moira he's a better man because of her and declares she's a beautiful, perfect, impossible woman and he loves her. Moira leans in for a kiss and soon she and Cain are getting passionate on the sofa. They spend the night together but the next morning Moira dismisses it as the heat of the moment. Cain tells Harriet he's finishing with her. In February 2018 Cain informs Moira that he and Harriet are over but she is apprehensive towards giving their relationship another shot. Cain helps redecorate Holly's old room, to make it a nursery for Isaac and while there, Moira overhears Faith telling Cain he belongs at the farm with Moira and his sons. However, Moira decides she's leaving the farm and leaving the village as she can't raise Isaac around all of the ghosts. Cain realises and is devastated. Cain returns to the farm where he begs Moira not to go, although Moira reiterates she can't be here right now. Cain informs Moira he'll be at the footbridge at 5pm - if she isn't there, he'll know she doesn't feel the same way about him as he does her. Moira tells him she won't be there so this is goodbye. Cain walks out. However, Charity manages to talk Moira out of leaving and Cain waits on the bridge as the church bells strike five o'clock. Moira appears a minute late. She tells Cain she loves him and they kiss.
2019-: Affair with Nate and drinking problem
In August 2019, Moira began an affair with Nate Robinson after starting to feel neglected by Cain. What she didn't know was that Nate was Cain's secret son who wanted to hurt Cain for not being there during his childhood and was only using Moira.
Creation & Casting
In May 2009, series producer Gavin Blyth announced he would be introducing a new family, the Bartons. Being asked about the introduction of the family, Blyth said, "I don't want to make Emmerdale a show about teenagers and young people, it's about family values. The Bartons are sexy, modern and contemporary. They're almost happy - and in soapland that's quite strange!". Former The Bill actress Natalie J. Robb was cast as mother, Moira. Robb's agent was called, asking her to audition for the role of Moira, and she later found out she'd won the role, which Robb mentions to be one of the best bits of her job, and that she was looking forward to joining the Emmerdale team as they were genuine and lovely. She also added "[the] cast and crew have been very welcoming and that always helps. There’s nothing better than being able to really look forward to going into work."
Moira appears in the 2011 spin-off DVD Paddy and Marlon's Big Night In. The DVD centers around the characters of Paddy Kirk and Marlon Dingle who have a "not-so-quiet night in the country, and a morning after anybody would want to forget." The script was written by Paul Roundell and directed by Emmerdale assistant producer Tony Hammond. Filming took place over September and October and the DVD was released on 14 November 2011.
For her portrayal of Moira, Robb was nominated for "Best Newcomer" at the 2010 Inside Soap Awards. The following year, Robb was shortlisted for "Best Serial Drama Performance" at the 16th National Television Awards.
- John Barton and Moira married on 6th January 1990.
- Moira said her maiden name was "Woodall" in September 2016, but this was later changed to "Boyd" when her brother Mackenzie Boyd joined the programme in October 2020.
"Hi, I'm Moira" - First line, to Andy Sugden.
"Emma, please come down." - To Emma Barton, before pushing her off the Hotten Viaduct.
"I let her make me a murderer." - to Cain Dingle, after confessing to him that she killed Emma.