The past catches up with Emmerdale‘s Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) when she comes face-to-face with old flame Paul Ashdale (Reece Dinsdale) on Wednesday 15th April, estranged father of her surrogate son Vinny Dingle (Bradley Johnson) who walked out when the lad was a toddler.
Maternal Mandy raised Vin as her own when Paul did a runner and the peripatetic parent’s unexpected return is set to turn their lives upside down.
As details of Paul’s past slowly unravel, including the real reason behind his disappearing act, RadioTimes.com spoke to TV veteran Dinsdale, who also played Gail’s doomed fourth husband Joe McIntyre in Coronation Street, about his unusual route to joining the Emmerdale cast…
What can you tell us about Paul?
He left when Vinny was four years old. There is a reason why he abandoned him but we won’t know it straight away. You’ll have to wait a bit to find out! He knows where Mandy’s family lived so he’s tracked her down, wanting to see Vinny again and to make amends for leaving. His intention is to be a good dad and make up for lost time.
How does Mandy react to seeing him for the first time in 14 years?
They certainly don’t get off on the best footing. Straight away she lies Vinny left the village a while ago and tells him to go away as she does not want to see him again. It’s not the warmest welcome!
Does he have a hidden agenda?
So far he comes in very genuine, honest and decent. What you see is what you get. Paul is full of admiration for how Mandy’s brought up his son but my hunch would be he might have also come back for her. Whatever his reason for going away, it was nothing to do with Mandy, so I think he’s hoping she might take him back – but his primary reason is definitely Vinny.
Does Vinny remember his dad?
No, he was four years old and can’t remember anything about him. Mandy tells Paul that Vinny doesn’t live in the village but he soon finds out that’s a lie and sneakily tries to get to know his son. He gives himself a fake name and goes to work with Vinny and Aaron in the scrapyard. Mandy has warned him off but he’s a good man and means well, so he takes the softly, softly approach…
You’ve directed episodes of Emmerdale recently, how did you end up back in front of the camera?
On my last day working on the episodes I got a call to go upstairs and see the executive producer. I thought it was a bit late in the day to sack me! They said they were pleased with I’d done and made an offer for me to be in the show, which I wasn’t looking for at all. I thought it would be wonderful to get involved on that side and be an actor again. There were all these rumours about who would play Vinny’s dad – apparently Rick Astley was mentioned. I’m the poor man’s Rick Astley!
Are you enjoying working with Lisa Riley?
She is absolutely fantastic and I can’t big her up enough! Lisa knows her stuff, she’s passionate, I’ve struck lucky. I’ve heard nothing but just the highest praise for Lisa with the directors and the cast I’d worked with behind the camera – Mark Charnock, Zoe Henry, the lot of them.
How does it compare to working on Corrie?
Gosh, that was a long time ago (2008-2010). They were lovely to me, but being here in ITV’s studios in Leeds is particularly special as me and John Thaw did a comedy series here called Home to Roost from 1985-1990 and the atmosphere is still incredible. This is a fantastic place to work, I have great memories of being with John as a young man and it’s just like coming home.
Is there anyone still working here from those days?
John Anderson directed my first episode as Paul, and he was a cameraman on Home to Roost all those years ago! And I’d worked with him on Corrie. A lot of directors do both soaps, including my good mate Ian Bevitt. It’s a nice community between the shows.