One of Emmerdale‘s most popular characters marked a milestone recently with the 20th anniversary of Cain Dingle’s first appearance. The bad boy rocked up for cousin Butch Dingle’s funeral back in March 2000, making an instant impact as the hardest man in the Dales and turning Jeff Hordley into a soap superstar.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about his two decades in the role, Hordley is in a reflective mood as he looked back on his alter ego’s antics:
“I’ve enjoyed playing Cain, it’s been a huge part of my life,” he shares. “I’m very close to him and protective over the character. I took a three-year break after I’d done six years which reinvigorated me and allowed me to do what I needed to do. When he returned in 2009 he came back more rounded and properly integrated into the village.”
Here’s Hordley’s hand-picked personal highlights from two decades as the hardest man in Yorkshire…
Boat explosion (2019)
Cain’s confrontation with wife Moira Dingle’s toy boy Nate Robinson revealed the fit farm hand was actually his long-lost son, and ended with a dramatic underwater rescue when the trio were thrown from an exploding boat. “Filming the underwater stuff last year was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had,” recalls Hordley. “I would say those two days were probably the best I’ve had on the show because it was so challenging. Opening your eyes underwater with no goggles, knowing where the camera is when you can’t see anything and it’s really claustrophobic – it was intense but amazing to do.”
Affair with Angie (2002)
One of the dangerous Dingle’s first big storylines was his doomed fling with copper Angie Reynolds. At first they were sworn enemies, but passion ignited and the police officer ended up swapping sides and doing dodgy jobs with Cain as their affair sizzled. Or so he thought, as a risky haulage truck robbery turned out to be a set-up masterminded by Angie which ended in a car crash that killed her. “I loved the copper and villain love story, her dying in his arms. Freya Copeland was brilliant to work with and a good friend.”
Zak attack (2011)
At the height of Cain’s self-destructive streak spiralling out of control, he notched up that many enemies he earned his own whodunnit. Viciously bludgeoned by a mystery assailant in an attack that almost killed him, the surprise guilty party from the suspect line-up turned out to be his own father. “I liked the bludgeoning of Cain as a storyline. When it turned out to be Zak there was huge fallout, and I got to do a great two-hander with Steve Halliwell.” Realising to his horror what he’d pushed his dad into doing, protective Cain covered up the crime.
Marriage to Moira (2014)
Mucky Moira cheated on first husband John with Cain, and after she was widowed it was inevitable the pair would end up together. They married in 2014 and have a son, Isaac, but her fling with Nate proved controversial with fans and Hordley calls for the pair to reunite: “I’d love them to be back together as it’s great working with Natalie J Robb. We have a shorthand which makes acting alongside her really easy. They’ll always be bound by their child and have to get on in some shape or form, and move on as parents do when a marriage breaks down and there are kids involved. It would be nice for Cain and Moira to be a couple again.”
Charity and Debbie (2002)
Feisty cousin Charity came to the village at the same time as Cain and fans quickly learnt the relatives had kept it in the family and had been in an on/off relationship since they were teens – the result of which was daughter Debbie, who tracked down her birth parents as a teenager after being given away at birth. The trio have bound together as a dysfunctional family unit ever since. “Anything involving Emma Atkins and Charley Webb has always been amazing for me,” smiles Hordley. “That triangle of Cain’s relationship with his daughter and her mother, all the back and forth with Cain and Charity over the years. They are tied together for life.”