A Sad Goodbye to Emmerdale’s Lisa Dingle
Actors Jane Cox and Steve Halliwell share their insight into their Dingle wedding, Lisa’s death, Zak’s future and Jane’s sad goodbye in Emmerdale.
During Emmerdale’s special episode for International Women’s Day viewers were unexpectedly hit with the devastating news that matriarch Lisa Dingle was terminally ill. The backbone of the Dingle family, Lisa’s tragic exit will be unbearably sad. Inside Soap magazine sat down with stars Jane Cox and Steve Halliwell at the Emmerdale studios in Leeds to discuss this final, difficult chapter…
Why have you decided to leave?
Jane: “This has been the best job in the world – Lisa is a part of me, and I’ve been a part of her for 23 years, which is a very long time. But I’m 67 now and while it was hard because I love everybody here, I’ve decided I don’t want to work at this pace so much in the future. I have a lot of other things that I want to do. If I don’t leave now, I never will.”
How did you feel when Jane told you that she was leaving?
Steve: “Well, I was sad – but I know Jane very well, and I knew there were other things that she needed to do, other than do what we’ve done together for 20-odd years. So yes I was sad initially, although as she’s my friend in real life. I knew it might be on the way. So it came gently, rather than a sudden shock.”
How do you feel about the fact that Lisa is being killed off, Jane?
Jane: “I think it’s better, really, because it tells a complete story. There are a lot of people out there who are dealing with a terminal illness.
After we did the episode on International Women’s Day, when Lisa revealed she has this illness a lot of people wrote into the show who also have amyloidosis (a rare condition where a build up of certain proteins can eventually lead to organ failure), and they said, “thank goodness you are raising this issue”.
Soaps are absolutely brilliant at raising awareness, and helping people was always very much part of my wanting to be an actor. Over the years on the show, we’ve done a lot of stories that have hopefully provided people with some support.”
Are you pleased that Zak and Lisa are going to get remarried?
Steve: “I am. I was disappointed when Zak had the affair with Joanie (Wright), although it made a good story. There was something about Zak and Lisa that I felt should remain solid. But that’s not up to me to decide, so you do the story and the scenes as best as you can. For me, Zak and Lisa getting remarried has been a long time coming.”
There are some problems on the special day that involve a runaway pig?
Jane: “It’s a Dingle wedding. Zak proposes to Lisa out of the blue, and the whole family is really happy about it. Everyone wants to make the wedding a really good occasion for them!”
Steve: “There are fun times together before the tragedy happens. It’s not all doom and gloom from day one. The Dingle family has found out that Lisa’s ill and she’s going to die, but you can’t just stop living.”
How do you reckon Zak is going to cope without Lisa around?
Steve: “Not well. The finality of death is something we all experience at some point, so it’s good to explore bereavement. I’m not the writer, so I don’t know exactly how Zak will cope, but I don’t suppose it will be good. He’ll have to find a way because, like most of us, you have to think about the family and there are still people who need you.
I don’t think Zak will find somebody else, though – like me, I don’t think he’ll want the stress of another relationship at this time in his life. I’m single now and a relationship would be too taxing, and I think Zak will be of a similar frame of mind – he’ll just want to look after his family, go down the pub and have a quiet life.”
Who do you believe could replace Lisa as the Dingle family matriarch?Jane: “I don’t think Lisa has thought about passing on the mantel, but I reckon Lydia is the prime person for that. I’d like to see her and Sam become more prominent, and little Samson is so good. I think Lydia has a similar maternal feeling to her character as Lisa, and she has that empathy. Karen Blick is a wonderful as Lydia, and her and James Hooton (who plays Sam) together are fantastic.”
What are you looking forward to doing when you leave, Jane?
Jane: “I want different adventures. I’m not ambitious with acting, and I’m so happy to have done everything I’ve done to date – I’ve been in this business for 48 years! It’ll be nice to have time to think about things, maybe do some writing or painting, and act in other things. The world is out there to be explored, and I’m very happy to be living a simpler life and having time for friends. When you are working flat out, you don’t have much time for anything else. But don’t get me wrong, it’s been a dream job here, and Steve has been my dream fella to be working with. I have many close friends at Emmerdale – but like I said, if I didn’t leave now, I literally wouldn’t do it. It’s time for me to take the plunge!”
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