Emmerdale are planning a special episode devoted entirely to Robron and the impact of Aaron’s prison sentence.
Producer Iain MacLeod promises it will be an insight into “a day in the life of a convict, but it’s as much as a day in the life of the family. What’s it like for Robert, who’s lost his partner to prison? What’s it like for Liv losing her older brother/father figure to prison? What about how it affects Chas?
“It’s quite topical in that there’s a lot of coverage in the news around prison life and the kind of challenges prisoners and their families face, so we thought it was a really good opportunity to explore that using a well-liked group of characters. That’s coming up in the not too distant future.”
Speaking on the eve of the much-anticipated wedding of Aaron Dingle and Robert Sugden, MacLeod also promised Aaron’s story would be followed in full once he’s behind bars, avoiding the soap cliché of having the character disappear when they’re sent down, with a new purpose-built prison set even being constructed for the duration of his 12-month sentence.
“We didn’t want to do the usual thing of having a popular character jailed and then never see them. Having put Aaron behind bars we thought we shouldn’t shy away from what it’s going to be like for him. Obviously Aaron’s been there before, so his experiences with jail are numerous and complicated and we’ll be touching upon the fact that his father Gordon took his own life in jail – and that has its own, hopefully quite surprising, effect, on how Aaron is able to cope inside.”
Danny Miller has teased Aaron’s time in prison will be dark and disturbing as the spectre of his abusive dead dad looms over him, to which MacLeod adds: “The story becomes about whether Aaron can escape his past, and what impact does the struggle he has inside have on his family on the outside. What degree does he feel able to be honest with them about what he’s going through? Robert, Liv and the family will be worried sick about him: however bad it gets in there, is it the right thing to share it with them? It’s only going to make it worse for them in terms of their anxiety.
“It’s big, complicated and interesting and feels very much a story of our time. With every news report that comes out I feel more and more pleased that we’ve been able to do something in this area.
Robron fans will be heartbroken their favourite couple will be ripped apart, does MacLeod see it as a risk to incarcerate one half of the popular duo at such a crucial point in their story?
“The best way to show how much Robert and Aaron love each other is to test them. Aaron had to face consequences for throwing his fists about. Following all the paranoia over Robert and the struggles he’s had with Gordon, it felt like the natural place for that to go in Aaron’s personality was to express it as violence. That attack on Kasim felt very natural and motivated, and once Aaron had done that we, as storytellers, can’t just make that go away.
“So it was partly to test the relationship, test the family and tell a topical, modern story about prison life.”
The special Robron episode will air in the next few months.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.