Marlon Dingle - actor Mark Charnock - hasn't been having the best of luck of late and things go from bad to worse in tomorrow's episode when, in a bid to recover his £18,000 winnings from the bookies, he's accidentally shot by brother Eli (Joe Gilgun), leaving him fighting for his life on the operating table.
Mark, who has been with the Yorkshire soap for just over 10 years, spoke to Digital Spy between filming to talk about tomorrow's dramatic episode, filming the shooting scenes, and how he fell asleep during filming!
Marlon turned to gambling last week, didn't he?
"Yeh, it's all come off the back of the eco-home falling through because of Pollard, so he's getting more and more desperate and he’s just got to the point where he doesn't think Donna can take much more of Marlon being a loser. He just begins to see himself in a more negative way and he just gets this almost delusional idea that he can win something on the dogs. It's just borne out of complete and utter desperation. So many things have gone wrong and it's not just Donna that he's got to think about, either, it's the four kids that they're supposed to be responsible for and they're on the verge of losing them to another foster family. It's just all closing in on him, really."
"Good grief, no. I think, at heart, Marlon's fairly cowardly. I think it's just a one-off. He's just been to the bank and he's told that they need £18k in order to make a bid for the house, Tall Trees. They know they need all of this money and he's got this £3k, so instead of taking it back to the bank, he thinks 'sod it' and just goes for it. It's just beyond reason, really."
So what does Marlon do when he's conned out of his winnings at the bookies?
"Well he decides to go down the illogical route again. His mind is just like scrambled eggs and he's just determined to get that money back. He doesn't see it as a robbery at all - he sees it as his money and he's just going to reclaim it. And that's why he gets Eli involved."
Why does Marlon get Eli involved? Because of his criminal past or simply because he's his brother?
"I think Marlon knows that Eli knows the game better than he does and the fact that Eli's braver than Marlon. Marlon knows, that even in all his delirium, he's not capable of pulling a heist off on his own. He asks Eli to watch his back, but really I think he actually wants Eli to take over and sort it out for him."
What happens during the raid? It doesn't all go to plan, does it?
"Well Marlon's got this plan and Eli says 'we're going to do this, trust me, I'm experienced, you can trust me'. And I think Marlon does trust him. He recognises that despite it all, it's Eli's area of expertise.
Do you think Marlon would have got away with the heist on his own?
"No, Eli said to him at one point 'What are you going to do? Go in and ask for the money nicely?' He said that they needed a little persuader. And when the gun falls out, Marlon's absolutely horrified. It's a long, long jail term for armed robbery and it's at that moment he begins to question what he's doing there. Then Eli convinces him that it's going to be all right, telling Marlon that it's not even loaded. But Eli's in there a lot longer than he's supposed to be and Marlon eventually follows him in and Eli accidentally shoots Marlon."
What was it like filming the shooting scenes?
"Absolutely brilliant. It's always exciting when you do something like that. It's really interestingly lit and it's got quite a filmic quality to it. And on the day, they're attaching the blood packs to you, they're showing you the gun, what the dangers are. It's really exciting. I always find the job exciting, but it was just one of those days. It was a bit like the storm episode where Tricia died. It was like that, I felt like I was in the middle of something special."
And you had quite an easy time for the rest of the week lying on a hospital trolley, didn't you?
"Yeh, it was nice actually! I had my iPod on, lying under the sheets while they operated on me for about three or four days! I think I did nod off on a couple of occasions after the exhaustion of filming the shooting episodes. I just had to lie there with my eyes closed, trying to not look like I was breathing too much and listen to people weeping around me! It was a really self-indulgent two weeks."
"He wakes up when Donna's there and he doesn't realise, of course, that he's being seen as the accidental hero. He thinks he's going to have to confess to Donna what he's done. And he obviously wants to get the money back still, so he begins by apologising to her. But when the conversation carries on, it transpires that she thinks that Marlon's gone in and tried to confront the armed robber. And, of course, they don't know it was Eli.
"It's really well written and there's nothing better in soap than acting out an internal, moral conflict. He had all this going on... and then the money starts to arrive. Jasmine does a piece in the paper about it and it suddenly becomes very big, very quickly. It just gets out of control. He's confronted with this situation where money starts to turn up in envelopes, flowers start arriving, the nurses start looking at him, admiring him through the windows. He has no idea how to deal with it at all and so he just doesn't deal with it. But the more time he leaves it, the more out of control it becomes."
Will Eli be found out, or will Marlon be framed for everything?
"I don't know. I certainly think that there's mileage in the storylines and I can't believe that it won't happen - and there are already suggestions in the script that it will - that Eli starts to be resentful toward Marlon, about the fact that he's taken this risk and he's not got anything out of it. And Eli being the pure Dingle that he is, in the darkest sense of the word, will start to take advantage of the power of this secret he has. I suspect that it'll escalate to quite a great degree, actually."
"I genuinely don't know, but I suspect that it'll be the continuation of this storyline. I think Emmerdale does this really well actually, like they did with the 'Who Killed Tom King?' murder story. It narrows things down until it becomes almost unbearable. I suspect that's what's going to happen with this storyline - things are going to start to get more and more on top of Marlon as more and more is revealed. And it remains to be seen whether Donna will ever find out about it all. But if she does, I think all hell will break loose."
And looking forward, how long to you anticipate staying with Emmerdale?
"I never, ever, ever look beyond a contract. I've doubled over in laughter for about 10 years. My back's beginning to ache with all the fun I've had. I'm lucky really. I play a character than gets a lot of comedy and I also, every now and then, get some great drama. So my artistic thirst is quenched by the show. But I never plan beyond the next contract. It's presumptuous. I never presume I'm going to stay, but if they offer me another contract, that's great."
Thanks for chatting, Mark!
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