After what feels like a whirlwind romance, Jessie Grant has a big surprise for Marlon Dingle this Christmas – an Emmerdale wedding! Actress Sandra Marvin tells us all about Jessie’s plans.

Tues 25 Dec 2018: Soon the guests start to arrive, oblivious to the fact they’re actually attending a wedding.

After realising that she’s loves Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock), there’s no stopping Jessie Grant (Sandra Marvin) who has big plans for Christmas Day in the form of a wedding. But in true soap style with everything go to plan?

As things start to go wrong – including Monty tucking into the wedding cake – Jessie thinks the wedding is cursed! Talked around by a supportive Belle (Eden Taylor Draper), April (Amelia Flanaghan) and Lydia (Karen Blick), Jessie is moved when April tells her her and Ellis joining the family will be the best Christmas present ever.

There’s just the small matter of no one knowing where the groom is…

Soon the guests start to arrive, oblivious to the fact they’re actually attending a wedding and soon they are shocked to see Jessie in a wedding dress. Actress Sandra Marvin fills us in on Jessie’s festive surprise.

Mon 26 Nov 2018: This sparks an idea in Marlon’s head and he surprises a returning Jessie with fairy lights spelling out “I love you”.

What made Jessie decide to marry Marlon?
“It was prompted by April after Marlon put up a sign saying ‘I love you, Jessie’ in fairy lights in Tall Trees. It shocks her. She doesn’t know how to respond, and that she needs to speak to him and address it and tell him what the problem is. They have this connection, a conversation about her not moving on from her first husband’s death.

“Obviously Marlon’s had a situation with little April with the bereavement of Donna, so he helps her get through that. They actually scatter the ashes together and I think that connection and finally laying him to rest is the thing that makes her think it’s time to move on and this person that I’ve finally made a connection with, this is who I’m going to be with.

“At that moment, they have a situation where they’re in love and Marlon becomes her knight in shining armour of sorts, and she thinks life’s too short, I’m going to prove to him how much I love him. She just goes for it!”

What kind of wedding is it?
“It’s very colourful and fun, but it’s lovely. It is really lovely. And some of Jessie’s family come down. But as I was saying in true soap fashion, there are so many hiccups along the way, and the first thing, when Marlon eventually gets there, the first thing he does when he realises and the penny drops that it’s actually him not Sam, he just faints. So then there’s final twists. So do they make it all the way?”

Does Jessie have a hen night?
“She doesn’t but on Christmas Eve, when she’s kicked Marlon out for the stag night, she has a lovely scene between her and April. It’s just the two of them, and April’s putting out the mince pie and the whisky for Santa to come. April basically tells her all my friends are having a really nice Christmas, they’re getting toys, they’re getting clothes, but I’m having the best Christmas because I’m getting a new stepmum and a new brother, so I think that’s more important to her.”

What characteristics is she going to bring to the Dingles?
“She definitely has the strength of the Dingle women, and she’s very protective. The same way the Dingles are very protective of their own, she naturally has that. I think you’ve seen loads of toing and froing with the Billy storyline and the tension with Ellis and she’s very protective of her family. I think she’ll slot in quite easily and quite well there. She’ll be lining up with the other women.

Something that’s key about her I’d say and does come out in the future, is she will always do the right thing, but she’ll always protect her own. Over and above, she’s loyal. And if she has to bend the rules slightly to protect her own, she will.”

It’s Christmas in Emmerdale but that doesn’t mean the drama stops as Jessie springs a surprise wedding on Marlon!

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be the Christmas episode?
“Honest truth when I found out, I think I sat there for the whole meeting with my mouth open. Just like that… the whole meeting. I was really blown away and really excited. It’s such a big thing. But the nice thing about this I thought, is obviously it’s a Dingle wedding so all the Dingles and all of their loved ones are there. So it’s kind of, rather than just being those two, it’s a community thing. So that was really special. And the actual filming, we had a lot of fun, I think there were about 36 or something of the main cast there.”

Will you be watching on Christmas day with your family?
“In my family, my sister is the biggest Emmerdale fan, she will watch every episode and rewatches. I’m going to go down and watch it with her because she doesn’t know. So it’ll be fun to watch her face, as it all unfolds.”

Some of Marlon’s wives haven’t fared very well – a chimney fell on Tricia, Donna died, are you hoping Jessie’s going to survive?
“I’m going to be watching the scripts. If I hear anything about tumbling roofs, chimneys, just stand on this car park – no. Jessie doesn’t like car parks. I’m really aware, we joke about wife number four, will she make it? I hope she makes it. And I think it would be nice because he’s had so many ups and downs and Marlon as much as he wants to be with someone, he wants to give April a family. That’s what it’s about. April’s growing up now it would be nice for her to have a family unit that she can grow up into now. Not that Marlon hasn’t done amazingly well on his own.”

What about poor Sam? Does no one tell him this isn’t your wedding?
“He does find out with a bang, like Marlon faints and Sam’s like oh. But I have to say the writing over the whole period is just amazing anyway – I love the writing in Emmerdale – but that particular episode, there is a beautiful scene between Lydia and Sam and it’s really touching.”

What’s your relationship with Mark like?
“He’s brilliant to work with and for me one of the best things about Mark that I didn’t appreciate when I first met him is that someone that’s been working on the show for so long, knows his craft inside out, knows his character inside out, he’s a really generous actor. There’s never anything that we might workshop and will go through our lines and I’ll go “yeah we could do it…” and he’ll go “yeah let’s do that”. He’s so playful and so open, we’ve had a lot of fun filming these Christmas episodes. I’m personally chuffed to be working with him. Ask him he might have a different story but just don’t tell me. I’m only joking. It’s good to be working with him. It’s fun when you’re working, when you get partnered up, you do get to know how the other person works and add a richness to the on-screen partnership as well.”

Watch Jessie and Marlon’s drama unfold on Christmas Day on ITV at 7.15pm in an hour-long episode.

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