Ross Barton looks like a man who can handle himself when push comes to shove. But the Emmerdale bad boy looks set to come off worse during bare-knuckle fight scenes to be shown next week. “Ross takes a bit of a beating,” admits actor Michael Parr. “In fact, one of the punches thrown by the guy I was fighting did actually connect. He caught me very slightly on the elbow and I was in a bit of pain for about two days!”
Not that Parr is a stranger to contact sports. Ross may be fighting to pay off debts he owes to a local gangster, but Parr has a background in martial arts. “I did jujitsu from 18 to 25 and entered the odd competition. But then I started taking my acting more seriously and it didn’t look good to arrive at drama school with nicks on my face. I even started getting a cauliflower ear. So I knocked it on the head. I am still a fan, though. I love to watch it.”
So did he relish the chance to go toe to toe again, even it was just pretend? “Well, we did have to choreograph it carefully because it is so risky. Just one inch too close and you get smacked. It was good fun – we had to do a lot of takes.”
As for the storyline, it seems that the real danger for Ross could be awaiting him after the bout. As the fight ensues, it makes for uncomfortable viewing for Ross’s concerned family, but when Debbie witnesses an exchange between Ross and gangster Charlie, she realises that there’s more riding on this than meets the eye. Will Debbie get through to Ross? And what will Pete make of Debbie’s over concern for his brother? And what will happen to Ross when Charlie’s bouncers sweep Ross away and gunshots are heard?
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
And beneath that, there’s an interview with Michael Parr in which he discusses his training regime ahead of shooting next week’s scenes.