Emmerdale spoilers: Jason Merrells on Declan Macey’s “final showdown” revenge plan

"It'll be a long time before Charity is not looking over her shoulder," says the actor

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So, Declan Macey is back – and he looks even more unhinged than the last time we saw him! Viewers who thought that the murderous businessman had come to a watery end following his lakeside stand-off with Charity have been left surprised this week after Declan was shown not to have died.

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Tonight’s episode saw Declan drugging Charity’s coffee before taking sister Megan hostage at gunpoint. With the Dingles gathered at Holdgate Farm following Robbie’s funeral, Declan wasted no time in storming the wake and telling everyone gathered there that it was time they knew the truth about Charity. So what happens next? Is the truth about to come out? And is this really the last stand of Declan Macey? Actor Jason Merrells tells us more… 

So, have you had members of the public asking you whether Declan was alive or dead?
I’ve had some quizzical looks, definitely. And people asking me why I’ve grown a beard. They’re all thinking there’s an arch plan in my facial hair.

So, tease us as to what happens in Friday’s episode?
Declan’s obviously been lying low and preparing himself for what could be a final showdown. He’s turned up in the village secretly, produced this gun and taken Megan hostage. His next step is to storm into Robbie’s wake and force everyone to listen to him. As to whether this is it for Declan or whether he has a plan for further revenge – well, you’ll have to watch and find out. But Declan is definitely someone who plans his strategy – whether that revenge happens on Friday or is served more cold, you’ll have to wait and see…

Do you think he would kill Megan if he had to?
No, I don’t think so. He’s told her to do what he says and to follow his lead. But Megan isn’t sure – because, let’s face it, he’s not the most together of chaps, psychologically. 

We loved the scene at the cottage where Declan struck Charity with the meat tenderiser, only for her to spring back to life in the next episode – what was your favourite moment from that week?
Yes, that was fun teatime viewing, wasn’t it? To be honest, the whole thing was a highlight. It felt like we were out in the woods doing a little movie, really. The whole experience was very un-Emmerdale, in the sense that they don’t do those kind of things all that often. It was challenging, hard work. But it was great. Even the bit when I was freezing in the lake. Doing all that kind of stuff is why you become an actor.

The door is being left open for you – should Charity keep looking over her shoulder?
I think it’ll be a long time before Charity is not looking over her shoulder. She’ll never know, really. It’s all open at the moment. But I think Declan would have to serve a hefty period of incarceration before he’d be able to, say, buy the village shop!

This current storyline is part of your exit from the show – can you sum up your Emmerdale experience?
Full-on. A lot of fun with people who I love, so I’ll miss it. But it’s a long way away and a bit relentless sometimes. So, about 70 per cent positive. It’s not like a film or a play that’s finite. It’s infinite and it keeps rolling, so that’s hard if you don’t live on the doorstep. It’s a difficult job to sustain. Critically, though, I think it’s the best soap by a long way. We’re all bemused when it doesn’t get the awards – I think it’s been the best for a year if not two years. So that can be disheartening. But we just have to accept that and get on with it.

The plotlines certainly simmer away very nicely on Emmerdale…
Absolutely. There’s one model of soap opera, where they just tread water or have circular storylines. Or there’s another model which is really good stories looping into other really good stories. Obviously it’s harder to achieve, but I think we’ve been doing a really good job at that.

So what’s next for you?
I’ve been doing an episode of Death in Paradise – Guadeloupe is quite a change from Leeds! And now I’m straight into a four-part drama called Safe House [in which he stars with Christopher Eccleston and Marsha Thomason], which is based on a true story about an ex-copper who set up a safe house in the Lakes for people who are in danger and on the run. I play the father of the family being targeted.

Is it a shock to the system going from soap back to drama?
Yes, well, I’m so used to working fast on a soap that I now balk at how long I get to spend on a scene. We spent a whole day on one scene in Death in Paradise. It was an eight-page scene, but it was like a massive movie schedule.

And do you have any advice for the new family taking over at Home Farm – after all, it is the most cursed address in Emmerdale?
Ha! My advice would be to keep looking behind you. Count all the silver and make sure you salute any magpies that you see. Anything to bring you a bit of good luck!

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Emmerdale continues tomorrow at 7pm on ITV