Marlon Dingle is dicing with danger next week after coming face to face with escaped murderer Cameron Murray. After being hit with the butt of a shotgun, Marlon falls into the Woolpack cellar where he lies unconscious. And as rain lashes the village, the flood waters in the cellar are rising. Here, actor Mark Charnock reveals what went on behind the scenes as the Emmerdale cast and crew decamped to Pinewood studios to film its biggest stunt of the year:
So, at the beginning of the week, we learn that Sarah has gone missing – how concerned is Marlon about this news? Sarah’s Marlon’s cousin so he’s really scared for her. The Dingles are really tight so everyone’s terrified for her. The weather is terrible and it’s a decade since Tricia died in a big storm, so this brings back terrible memories for Marlon.
Tell us how Marlon reacts when he comes face to face with Cameron… It’s absolute abject horror. He locks the back doors of the Woolpack because Cameron’s on the loose. He has a light conversation with Chas about them being safe rather than sorry. Then he goes into the Woolpack back corridor and Cameron is there. His throat tightens, he can’t even shout out and before he knows it he’s been hit in the stomach and across the face with the butt of the gun and he’s fallen down the cellar steps, unconscious. Faced with the abyss, both literal and metaphorical.
What happens in the cellar? Marlon becomes the Man from Atlantis. He’s in the cellar so long that he grows gills and becomes amphibious! The water is not extreme at this point. The minute water was poured on to the set at Pinewood it was terribly exciting. At drama school, I decided it was my ambition to walk down the street in the rain holding a big gun and this is the closest I’ve ever come. It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, lying in the cellar as they poured the water on to the set.
And in what condition is Marlon in at this point? He’s lying face down. He’s been banged in the face, he’s bloodied his nose and could be dead. The water arrives and he just floats.
So what was Pinewood Studios like? It was the most amazing place I’ve ever been. I kept walking round in my free time peeking through doorways at these giant sets that were being constructed: sphinxes, chariots… and everyone said “Hello Marlon!” Everyone seemed to watch Emmerdale! We couldn’t believe how popular it was there.
We also had the biggest underwater set they’ve ever built. It was filmed in a vast warehouse where they shoot all the underwater scenes for Bond and the Bourne films. They built this enormous box with the Woolpack cellar inside. They’d keep it above the water and as time progressed in the story, they’d lower the set deeper and deeper. So every time you came back to it after a break it’d be deeper, up to your chest, up to your neck. On the last two days we were treading water because it was above head height.
What happens when Marlon wakes up? He quickly becomes aware of what’s going on. The first thing he remembers is Cameron hitting him in the face with a gun. He sees Cameron through a keyhole waving a gun at Chas and looking as if he’s about to shoot her. He creates a distraction downstairs and that’s when he becomes more involved in the story.
How proud are you of the storyline? It been the most consistently strong year in Emmerdale’s history, in my own experience of it anyway. The show is just remarkable at the moment – the Debbie, Chas, Cameron story is one of those perfect long-burn stories for soaps. It is dramatic, sad and funny at times. It has just been fantastic. The aftermath of the siege is great – it just keeps going!