Emmerdale has aired Ronnie Hale’s exit from the show in tonight’s dramatic hour-long episode, in which the character finished his tempestuous relationship with Lawrence White having discovered he drove daughter Chrissie’s real dad to suicide by framing him for a crime he didn’t commit.
But there was a heartbreaking twist when Lawrence’s other daughter Rebecca called Ronnie at the train station as he prepared to leave Yorkshire for good and promised she’d get her father to ring him to talk things over – only Lawrence collapsed and never got round to making that final phone call, leaving Ronnie to think he’d been forgotten about and board the train…
Former Brookside star John McArdle, who has been with Emmerdale since April 2016, talks about his time on the show, the tragic ending to ‘Lonnie’ (a middle-aged Robron, if you like), and whether Ronnie might return to the village one day…
What made Ronnie decide to leave?
He’d had enough of Lawrence lying to him and being mistrustful and he couldn’t take it any more – and also the White family are completely crazy! He’d had to put up with all that for too long I don’t think he could take their antics any more. Ronnie’s had enough!
Where he’s off to on that train?
Hopefully he’s off to St Ives in that house him and Lawrence were going to buy together! Maybe he’ll settle down there and do some carpentry or something… He’s heading down to the south west by the sea where the weather’s warmer, away from everything that’s gone on.
Does Ronnie still love Lawrence when he leaves?
Totally, Lawrence is the love of his life. It broke his heart to leave, it was a very hard decision he had to do it because otherwise it would’ve been torture – but yes, he’s still in love with Lawrence. The relationship was starting to grow stronger so it was a shame the way it ended…
Could he ever come back to the village?
Well, he’s really good friends with Lisa Dingle and some of the other residents, and he’s always ready to do some odd jobs for people so I think could come back anytime!
What’s been the response to Lawrence and Ronnie’s relationship, as one of the few older gay couples in soap?
It’s been really good and very positive, especially among the gay community. Not being gay myself it’s a compliment to know you’re portraying people in the right way and getting the blessing from the community. Older gay people have sent messages saying they loved the relationship, and how it recognises the history, especially with the coverage of the legalities of being gay since the 60s which is being discussed a lot at the moment. And someone also told me they had a large gay following in China of all places! We’ve reached the other side of the world.
What will you miss about Emmerdale?
It’s such a wonderful place to work, the crew and the cast are all great. I’ve worked in many different places over the years and Emmerdale is really unique, and I’ll definitely miss being on the show. I’ll miss everybody here!
Now you’ve left, what have you got lined up next?
I’ve been offered a theatre tour in the UK in the autumn with a great company called Frantic Assembly, and some film work in Spain around Christmas, so I’m working until next February already. I was going to put my feet up for a while!
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.