Departing Emmerdale star Ryan Hawley has confessed it will be "very emotional" to leave his role as Robert Sugden after five years, which means the end of his hugely successful on-screen partnership with co-star Danny Miller, aka Aaron Dingle.
In episodes airing the week commencing Monday 14th October, fans will see Hawley's alter ego forced to go on the run to avoid being imprisoned for murder, when his sister Victoria Barton's rapist Lee Posner dies from the injuries incurred from Robert's beating that has already resulted in a GBH charge.
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As Robert and Aaron, dubbed #Robron by their loyal online fans, are torn apart (the show is not revealing the finer details of Robert's eventual exit, and why his husband ends up staying), Hawley has spoken of his imminent exit.
"I will miss the show massively, it has been a huge part of my life," says the star, who took over from Karl Davies when the eldest son of Jack Sugden, much-missed patriarch of Emmerdale's first family, returned in 2014 after a gap of almost a decade as a regular cast member.
"I love working here, I love the people and it's going to be very emotional leaving.
"I have been very lucky to be involved in some ambitious storylines and stunts during my time, but the big crash in 2016 sticks out. Me and Danny had fun filming in the underwater tank at Pinewood studios. There were so many special effects in the crash sequence it was probably the biggest thing Emmerdale has ever done, and it was amazing to be part of it."
What happens in Robert and Aaron's final scenes?
Miller is full of praise for his colleague, fully aware of how the frenzy their undeniable chemistry has caused, creating one of the soap's most popular pairings. "It's been amazing working with Ryan. We have a level of trust and understanding I'll miss. Sometimes we get on each others' nerves as it's full on, but we work so well together.
"We had great chemistry right from our first scene and I guess the producers must have seen that. I think they saw something in us and decided to take it to the next level and it worked out amazingly. It feels weird he's going but I guess everything good comes to an end."
The exact nature of how Robert leaves is still cloaked in secrecy - the boys speed off into the sunset hoping to avoid the police and live a life in hiding, but at some point Aaron returns on his own - so does Robert convince him to stay behind to keep an eye on Liv and Victoria? Or does Rob get banged up after all? Miller is giving nothing away…
"There's real raw emotion for Ryan and myself in our final moments together," he admits. "During one of the emotional scenes it hit me that it's real and is actually happening, and there are genuine tears in there!
"We've been close all these years and it's not going to be the same without him, but the show goes on so to speak. And it will be interesting to see what happens with Aaron still in the show."
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