Ever since Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) became central to Emmerdale's unprecedented stolen embryo plot, the lovable character has lost himself.


Yes, Marlon may still be around, but the man we all enjoy watching has all but disappeared, and in his place is a bitter, cold shadow of his former self. We miss him, and we can't be the only ones.

Wife Rhona Goskirk's (Zoë Henry) world was turned upside down when her ex-husband Gus Malcolm (Alan McKenna) pinched her passport, forged her signature and used their frozen embryo to conceive a baby with his spouse, Lucy (Charlotte Asprey).

All of this was despite Rhona's previous refusal to allow such a thing to happen - but, naturally, the arrival of baby Ivy caused her to fall in love with her biological daughter. Marlon had actually discovered Gus and Lucy's betrayal before Rhona, and struggled with how to tell her - so, at first, he didn't.

Rhona understood the magnitude of such news and forgave Marlon's decision, and he offered steadfast support as Rhona became unwittingly involved in Ivy's birth, visited her in secret after Lucy's death, and ultimately vowed to raise Ivy herself.

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Marlon and Rhona stare at each other, watched by a therapist in Emmerdale
Marlon's attitude leaves a lot to be desired. ITV

Granted, this was a lot for Marlon to get his head around, and he was especially kind and patient with the deeply affected Rhona - even after she kidnapped Ivy, disappeared and planned a new life without consulting him. He too became smitten with Ivy, and was happy to be a father to her.

During Rhona's trial over said kidnapping charges, Gus twisted the narrative and was happy to see her painted as the villain in court. After Rhona was found not guilty, Gus struck a deal with her, offering to plead guilty to his fraud charges to help her get access to Ivy.

When Marlon urged Rhona to agree, she did so, only to discover that Gus was putting his house up for sale and planning on taking the baby away from her for good.

Eventually, a ceasefire was reached and Gus, Rhona and Marlon signed some legal documents to cement their places in Ivy's life. Then the situation shifted, and things got even weirder.

When Gus's case went to court, Rhona planned to read a statement which offered her understanding, and would have given Gus a chance at a shorter sentence. But in the moment, while testifying, Rhona simply couldn't do it. In an emotional speech on the stand, she unleashed months worth of anguish, and Gus was sentenced to eight years.

Marlon's fury over Rhona's decision took her, and us, by surprise. He raged at her treatment of the actual villain of the piece, Gus - though Marlon later insisted it wasn't Gus's fate that was the problem, but Rhona's repeated failure to talk through her plans with him. Even though she had actually taken Marlon's advice on board when refusing Gus's original request in the first place!

Rhona looks at Gus as he looks away in Emmerdale
Gus deserved his punishment. ITV

Yes, Rhona has made some poor choices lately. But the time for Marlon to challenge her quite so severely would have been immediately after the kidnapping chaos. In contrast, his anger over Rhona's testimony felt misplaced, harsh and, sadly for someone as gentle as Marlon, even cruel.

He's made almost constant digs at Rhona ever since Gus's imprisonment, relegating her from the marital bed to the sofa and responding to every calm word she's sent his way with resentful comments. In doing so, Marlon has lost his sense of humour, his compassion and his sense of awareness.

There was a slight faltering on his part during their counselling session this week. When Marlon insisted that Rhona needed to decide if she was in their marriage as a unit, the therapist questioned whether all decisions had to be made by Rhona.

Marlon was stunned into silence, while a joke from Rhona which, she pointed out, would have been made by Marlon himself six months earlier, fell flat. She may have needed to read the room in this context, but Rhona made a valid point: when was the last time Marlon uttered a humorous one-liner without any hint of underlying tension?

Marlon stares intently at Rhona as she holds her phone in Emmerdale
Marlon and Rhona in Emmerdale. ITV

Also, Rhona's mention of his stroke is a reminder of how she previously supported Marlon unconditionally during a time of unexpected crisis, which was exactly what she needed from him this year. She's not blameless in their problems, but how is Rhona supposed to help fix what's broken if Marlon won't let her in?

The obvious solution is to have him give her a chance and stop being so uncharacteristically nasty. In the long-term, wherever possible, we need to see Marlon do what he does best, retain his comic persona while showcasing what makes him such a good partner and father.

Without those qualities, he is simply not Marlon, and Emmerdale really needs him back now.

Dawn (Olivia Bromley) and Billy Fletcher (Jay Kontzle) are currently visiting their poorly baby, Evan, in hospital, while Marlon's relative Belle King (Eden Taylor-Draper) is being controlled and abused by husband Tom (James Chase). Marlon should be the light among the ITV soap's darkness.

We used to love him and Rhona as a couple, but that's been destroyed, and we can only hope it's not for good. So please, Emmerdale, restore our Marlon to his former glory as soon as possible.

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Emmerdale airs Monday to Friday at 7:30pm on ITV1. Stream on ITVX.


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