Just about everything that Marlon Dingle shows love to ends up six feet under – whether that is Tricia, Donna or even his beloved pet pooch Daisy. And his Emmerdale curse is set to strike again when April Windsor is handed the school gerbil to look after by headteacher Jessie – only for it to die too!
So how is Marlon going to get around this with a daughter that has already been confronted with more than enough death in her young life? As we sat down for a chat with Mark Charnock, he saw the funny side of Marlon’s lack of luck.
He cringed: ‘Arnold the gerbil changes everything. Jessie was holding out the gerbil to April as a kind of olive branch but yeah, he goes to a better place. It’s really funny. You get these scripts and actually, if you took it out of context they are insane, just crazy.
‘So the gerbil dies and Paddy replaces the gerbil with a lookalike, and then they find out that Arnold had cancer and was going to die anyway. So, they’ve then got to play out this whole scenario with April and Jessie, where Paddy and Marlon are going, “Oh, there he is, Arnold, exactly the same gerbil.” So this whole thing plays out like this madman’s fever dream.
But, it was really funny to play and it was really funny on the page. I’m sort of like weirdly proud of this little story, and it brings April into a lot of scenes and she just played it so brilliantly, she always does but she was so great in it.’
There is a chance that this could bring Marlon and Jessie even closer together – so could there be love on the horizon for the pair? Sandra Marvin, who plays the headteacher, was keeping her cards close to her chest.
She mused: ‘If I’m honest, I actually don’t know if that’s the way we’re going, I really don’t know how this will end. But I think Jessie and Marlon are interested in each other but whether it becomes a full blown relationship I don’t know yet.
‘We have to remember there is a big relationship in his life already, he has already got Paddy. So Jessie would be in the middle of that, you know, and I’m not that kind of girl! These scenes have been really fun to play. The constant misunderstandings are great.’
Mark added: ‘He’s keen – it’s the first person since Carly that he’s seen who he has a connection to that he can’t quite explain. And, obviously he fancies her and all that superficial stuff, but actually there’s something that he sees in her that represents all the correction of all the mistakes he’s made in the past. Marlon just thinks she’s great and kind and also he knows she’s great with his daughter.
‘It is all those things that appeal to him. But, like Sandra says, it might not go that way. We genuinely don’t know yet, but it’s really nice. I do like playing thwarted love, because they write it funny, but also, it’s got real heart to it and although he keeps messing up,he just wants to do the right thing – but he always appears so desperate!’
Pondering whether it would be too soon for Marlon to move on after what happened with Carly, Mark shared: ‘I think he’s just devastated by what happened there, but I think, he realised quite quickly that if it was that fragile, she clearly wasn’t the one. All he wants is for somebody to love him back. When somebody comes along who is nice to him, that he finds attractive and who sees beyond the geek, he finds it really appealing and probably throws himself in too deep.
‘All he’s doing really is continuing his search for somebody who will complete his family, really. So no, I quite like the fact that they didn’t wait for too long. But just to reiterate, she might not accept him, so we’ll see. But, these are the most exciting bits, it’s like a tango. It’s good, it’s fun to play and it’s quite textured and I’m really enjoying the way they’re writing it, it’s good to play.’