In Emmerdale’s second lockdown episode, Cain Dingle and nephew Aaron are together at Mill Cottage. With neither man willing to open up, what will get them to drop their guard? Actor Jeff Hordley explains…

Emmerdale in lockdown, Jeff Hordley as Cain Dingle
Emmerdale in lockdown, Jeff Hordley as Cain Dingle

Let’s face it, what’s better than one brooding Emmerdale male – two! So with Cain Dingle and nephew Aaron in lockdown together at Mill Cottage, the two hard men are having to dig deep, especially when Cain hides something from Aaron. Actor Jeff Hordley reveals more…

How did you feel when you were asked to be part of these special lockdown episodes?
I was surprised and also pleased because I love the idea of a two hander episode. Plus I love working with Danny Miller. I think Cain and Aaron have got a great rapport so I was thrilled. And I am pleased to be back working as I believe that we have to, in some way shape or form, get on and try and resume a new normal in these times.

Was it hard to learn the script?
I have certainly spent most days since I received the script looking at it. But I have the time to do this which is good. I know we don’t have much time to shoot this on the day. Ordinarily I could be in an episode and be in six scenes. Three of these might be really wordy and the other three less so with maybe just a couple of lines in the Woolpack. So there is more to learn from one script, but it has been brilliantly written by the fantastic Adam Sales and he has got a really good handle on dialogue and the relationship between Cain and Aaron, so it has been easy to learn.

Tell us about the rehearsal process?
We were given a few hours so that we could go in and work in the studio to understand the new rulings regarding filming and also to block through the episode. There are new regulations about working in the studio and we are having to adhere to the two meter ruling on and around the set. This means that the scenes are almost choreographed like a dance. So you come into a space and the other actor has to be two meters away and then you will be told to move somewhere else so they can move too. It feels like a dance always keeping a two meter distance.

Did these episodes feel more collaborative?
It has been good to have time to get in and block it through and mark down all the moves on the script. Time is of the essence on the filming day so we want to try and get things done in an efficient way as possible. So therefore having had the rehearsal time we will hopefully hit the ground running.

Tell us about the actual filming process and how it differed from normal?
On the filming day there’s no hair or makeup done for us. It is all scaled back as it is going to be minimal. Just the essential crew on the floor so the director will be on the floor instead of in the gallery. There will be cameras, sound, a 1st assistant. It has to be kept to a minimum so I think it is going to be unusual but ultimately when you are acting in a scene you are focused on the other actor anyway. Less people on the floor is the right thing to do, as health and safety of course is a priority. We need to make this work and we have to create and live by these new set of rules so that we can make the programme work and carry on transmitting episodes.

Are you interested in how this episode is received?
I will definitely be keen to see it. It will be interesting as the shots might be quite different to a normal episode. But I think there are some positives. One of them being the episodes will be now more character focused. Less event based and I think as the audience has invested in the characters it will be good to just see the characters breathe and just talk, not necessarily about that much but just being who they are.

In the episode, Cain and Aaron are trying to adjust to life in lockdown and Cain is adamant he won’t be opening up about his feelings to Aaron. When a letter arrives with a prison stamp on it, Cain, not wanting Aaron to slip back into his hole of despair over Robert, hides the letter in a magazine.

As the days pass by, Cain and Aaron get drunk but Cain lets slip about the letter leaving Aaron furious. Cain can’t remember where he’s put it and frantic Aaron rails at him, giving him some home truths about him and Moira. Later, Cain attempts an apology but struggles to open up. How will Aaron cope with the letter and will it set him back? Will lockdown get Cain to come to terms with his true feelings?

Why is Cain so against opening up to people emotionally?
It is just not in Cain’s DNA to open up to people, but in this episode Aaron carefully constructs a way to try and get him to open up. As the episode progresses we see in fact the pair of them shift from how they are at the beginning to the end of the episode. It is cleverly written.

Why does Cain hide the letter from Robert Sugden in prison?
He knows Aaron well and he fears that in Cain’s words he will ‘overthink things and go down a rabbit hole’ – which is a quote from the script. Cain is just scared his nephew is going to react badly to this letter so he decides for better or for worse to hide it from him.

Do you think they work well in lockdown together?
I think the dynamic between them is great because they have a lot of similarities. They are both Dingles and I think Cain has got a lot of time and love for Aaron.

How have you been spending lockdown?
I am lucky that my children are of an age that they can do things off their own back so my son and daughter have been dealing with their homeschooling themselves. I’ve sat and done some French with my son, but generally they have been very diligent and hardworking.

Don’t miss Cain and Aaron’s lockdown episode on Wednesday 10 June.*

*Subject to change