Are Marlon Dingle and Laurel Thomas headed for a split? It's the question that Emmerdale viewers will be left asking next week as the troubled couple both get cold feet in the run-up to their wedding.
"They want to be together, but they can't make it work at the moment," admits Mark Charnock, who plays Marlon. "It has however been interesting to play. I don't like it when couples are too happy and everything's all sugary and relentlessly nice."
The relationship between Marlon and Laurel has certainly been far from sugary in recent months. The two of them have faced no end of drama ever since Marlon's ex-wife Donna turned up in the village with a daughter he never knew was his. And now that April has been left in her dad's care following Donna's tragic death, the situation has suddenly become even more problematic.
"Marlon's breaking into pieces," continues the actor. "One piece of him is with Laurel, another piece is with April and a very large piece of him is dealing with the grief for Donna. And he doesn't quite know how to put that jigsaw back together. What's happened is that he's become so focused on April's wellbeing that he hasn't got the mental space to deal with the wedding."
All of which bodes especially badly for Marlon's upcoming nuptials, which have been jeopardised first by Marlon's kiss with Donna prior to her death and now a drunken pass that Laurel makes at her ex-husband Ashley. In scenes to be shown on Thursday 11 September, the start of the wedding service will see Marlon and Laurel realising that they have a lot of talking to do. But can they possibly work things out?
"On the day of the wedding, Laurel finds Marlon staring into space at Donna's grave. And when they begin to talk, it does feel like they've reached the end. She's in her wedding dress, he's in his morning suit, but both of them are wondering whether this is it for their relationship.
"In the end, Laurel tells Marlon that she kissed Ashley. She explains that she was just reaching out to someone while drunk, but Marlon tells her not to feel guilty because he did the same with Donna. They both agree that neither of these kisses meant anything. I think they're two people who are deeply in love but in a tragically sad situation. They want to make their relationship work, but there are so many circumstances stopping it from doing so."
And does Charnock believe that his character can eventually make it work with Laurel? "It ought to be a perfect scenario. Everything was in place for it to work, but the sheer volume of tragedy that's befallen them has just screwed it up. They love each other, but I think it'll be a very rocky road."