Dominic Brunt has revealed an insight into playing Emmerdale’s devastating Paddy Kirk storyline, which is due to air this week.
There are heartbreaking performances ahead from Brunt and Mark Charnock, who plays Paddy's best friend Marlon Dingle; and the show has worked with two charities, Samaritans and Andy’s Man Club, to portray the character's journey.
At a recent press event, the actor told us that he spoke to men who have been in Paddy’s shoes ahead of filming. “Whether it’s been through Andy’s Man Club, talking to Neil [Waine] or doing my own research, it’s been incredible.
"Not only has it been inspirational, but it’s been pitch-black dark, and it’s made me appreciate what I have. Speaking to people where life has hit them so hard, from left field - nobody’s asked for this - it’s been really shocking.”
Brunt also explained that the scale of this storyline is something he’s not experienced since Paddy helped adoptive son Aaron Dingle (Danny Miller) come to terms with his sexuality back in 2010.
“It kind of transcends the normal storylines that we’re normally given. I think the only time I’ve had something like this before was when Aaron came out.
“It mattered to people, I remember an uncle that was kind of, you know, that generational bigotry that’s there – and he watched it and went ‘yeah, I understand that. I got that.’ And I was hoping that this story might do that, that it might actually make a difference and normalise talking.”
Asked what the future holds for Paddy, he added: “He’s opened the door to it now, he’s capable of having those thoughts; he’s capable of attempting to take his own life. I think he’s going to have to watch that now for the rest of his life. And thankfully the story isn’t dropped, there’ll be hints, hopefully forever that he’s capable of that.
“But there’s also a lot of light as well. I think what Emmerdale do brilliantly, time and time again is, it’s not a misery fest. It’s not this dark story that’s awful to watch; it’s really well coloured in with the pace, and even two blocks later there’s little pinches of light. He’s found his humour again, but at the same time, he has to watch himself.
“Also, it normalises talking. He has a little slump, and he just turns to someone and says ‘are we alright to just grab a cup of tea, I just want to talk to you about something.’ I’m really, really glad it’s normalised that.”
In fact, Emmerdale will go a step further by airing its first all-male episode next week, led by Marlon. Ahead of these important scenes airing, Lorna Fraser, executive lead for Samaritans' Media Advisory Service, discussed how the soap approached the charity for guidance.
“The team got in touch with us really early on, which is a more helpful approach. It was very clear from the start that Emmerdale wanted to go with this story, but they really wanted to understand how they could do it right; wanting to tell a story that was very true to life, that viewers could relate to.
“So wanting us to be involved in that way, to make sure they could tell something that was true to life and safe, doing it in the right way and having as much helpful impact as possible.”
Emmerdale airs Paddy’s distressing decision on Thursday 2nd March and Friday 3rd March from 7pm on ITV.
Anyone affected by Paddy’s story can find help and support by visiting the Samaritans and Andy's Man Club websites, or by calling Samaritans' 24-hour hotline on 116 123. The NHS website also provides advice on how to seek help if you're experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Watch Emmerdale's spoilers for this week