The life of Aaron Dingle took another unexpected turn in tonight’s episodes of Emmerdale when it was revealed that his abusive father Gordon Livesy had died in prison.
With Robert having burned the letter that Gordon had written prior to his death, Aaron now has no opportunity to find out whether his dad was truly sorry for the pain he’d inflicted. And what’s more, Aaron is growing increasingly suspicious that Robert might have had a hand in Gordon’s demise.
Here, actor Danny Miller talks to RadioTimes.com about his high-profile year on Emmerdale – work that has now been rewarded with a nomination for Best Actor at this year’s British Soap Awards…
When Gordon was re-introduced, did you always know that this would be the outcome? To be honest, no. The initial idea was for Gordon to be sent to prison and for Aaron to see him deteriorate. But the writers eventually decided to give Gordon the worst possible outcome. And for Aaron to not get the admission he needs from his dad. Now Aaron will never know whether Gordon was ready to admit that he’d ruined his life.
It seems Aaron is only allowed a couple of episodes to be happy before he gets yet more bad news… Yes, they managed to give him the hint of a brighter future before pulling the rug out from under him again. But there are people out there in the real world who have really bad luck. And at least his dad is now dead and can’t haunt Aaron or taunt him from prison.
Why do you think the pairing of Aaron and Robert has been so successful? As a nation, we like to root for the underdogs. Just look at Leicester City! When I look back six months, though, I didn’t think there was any way back for Aaron and Robert. Especially when it was revealed that Robert had killed Katie, who was Chas’s best mate. But the clever writers put their heads together and realised that Robert had been fighting his feelings for Aaron all along. Here was a man who was putting his marriage on the line for a man. Robert loves Aaron. And he was there for him throughout this dark period of the trial. Aaron didn’t want him around, but Robert showed that he had his best interests at heart.
So is this a story of redemption for both Aaron and Robert? Yes, you thought Robert was some kind of demon, but he’s shown that he can be this really lovely lad. And the viewers know that Aaron is at his happiest when he’s with Robert. Obviously, we have the cliffhanger tonight with Aaron’s suspicions about Robert, but there is this definite feeling from the fans that Aaron now deserves to be happy. And for me, on a personal level, I love working with Ryan Hawley and I know that the feeling’s mutual. So I think the chemistry between us comes from that. And all credit to Ryan for the way he’s playing it.
Do you ever laugh about the fact that a year ago Robert had Aaron chained to a radiator? We have had many a joke on set. Particularly with Lucy Pargeter, who pointed out that Robert is now living at the Woolpack despite Chas knowing that he killed her best friend. But things move on. And the only other way of doing things would have been to put Robert in prison for Katie’s murder – and that would have been a waste of a great character and a talented actor.
Have you ever typed the hashtag Robron into Twitter? I’m not the best at social media – I can tweet, retweet and put a picture up, but that’s about it. I know that Robron is a thing, though, and I have used the hashtag when I’ve been promoting the show. But I only realised that a lot of people were talking about it when someone explained to me what ‘trending’ meant on Twitter. From what I hear, it’s all good stuff. And the fact that the storylines get discussed on social media is positive news for all of us – we want people to talk about historic sex abuse and speak out.
Now, I believe that you had to film the scene in which Aaron told Chas about his rape TWICE – is that true? Yes, it’s true. And it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. When I originally read the script, I became very emotionally attached to it. And Mike Lacey, who directed the episode and who’s a very approachable guy, asked me how I felt about just going for it in one take. I was up for it, even though it was five pages of dialogue, the most I’ve ever done in my career. But after we filmed it, Mike felt that the stage directions needed to be changed and that Chas had to be seen consoling Aaron earlier than she did in the script.
I agreed – after all, it is my job and I couldn’t really say no. So I had a ten-minute break, went off, had a chat with my dad on the phone, listened to some music and then felt like I could do it again. And actually, it was good to be able to change the bits I hadn’t necessarily liked when we first shot it. It felt more comfortable that Chas was there for Aaron. So, yes, we did do it twice and the result was amazing. But it was all down to the team, not just me and Lucy, but the crew too.
Of which scenes are you most proud? The two big analyses of Aaron’s story – so either the one with Robert or with Chas. We did a ridiculous amount of work on both of them – everyone put in so many hours, but I felt like we created something that really worked. And the scripts really opened my eyes to why people keep these things quiet for so long.
What is it that keeps you at Emmerdale? It’s the people – both cast and crew. And yes, I was starting to get a CV together while I was away from Emmerdale, but I’ve had fantastic, controversial storylines since I’ve been back. When you’re creating this kind of drama, there’s no reason not to want to do it. We work long hours, but it’s enjoyable and it’s nice to get a nomination like this as a reward.
Did you expect to make the shortlist? I’d never really thought about it in terms of making the shortlist. I feel that Emmerdale has been overlooked in recent years so, for that reason, I hadn’t been getting my hopes up. But it’s great to be shortlisted – I’m absolutely made up.
VOTE FOR DANNY MILLER AT THE BRITISH SOAP AWARDS HERE
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.