Emmerdale At 40: Charley Webb and Dominic Power talk love triangle, babies and live show nerves!

by Lynn Connolly

Emmerdale’s 40th anniversary is fast approaching, and of course in October, there are several special shows lined up to commemorate four decades of the rural soap, as well as a landmark hour-long live broadcast episode.

During the live episode, we’ll be witness to a double wedding, a murder and the births of two babies…

One of those babies will be Debbie Dingle’s, so of course Charley Webb, who plays Debbie, has a huge role to play in the live broadcast. As does Dominic Power who plays Debbie’s cheating partner Cameron Murray.

And not only does Cameron have to worry about Debbie and the baby, he’s also terrified that Carl King (Tom Lister) is going to carry through his threat to tell Debbie about Cameron’s affair with Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter).

Carl has of course demanded that Chas pay him back the £30k she fleeced him for when she ditched him at the altar after learning he’d been having an affair with Eve Jensen…

However, far more serious than the love triangle situation is the fact that Debbie’s daughter Sarah – who has Fanconi Anaemia – is about to develop leukaemia, and therefore needs a bone marrow transplant from her as yet unborn sibling more urgently than ever.

Both Charley and Dominic have been talking to ITV about the desperate race to save little Sarah’s life, as well as their fears about the playing such pivotal roles in the live show.

First, here’s ITV’s Q&A with Charley…

Debbie is about to give birth to Sarah’s saviour sibling. How is she feeling?

Debbie is very nervous because obviously having this baby to help Sarah is not guaranteed to work. There is so much that could go wrong. This could have all been for nothing and they would be back to square one which would be awful.

How does she react after receiving the news that Sarah is developing leukaemia?

Debbie is devastated. It has happened quicker than they anticipated and she wasn’t prepared for it. Up until now Debbie has been so strong and wanted to remain this way throughout but this has set her back.

Does Debbie realise Cameron seems a little distracted at the moment?

Debbie knows Cameron is distracted and has not been around much. This is definitely playing on her mind. Cameron is always here, there and everywhere and Debbie never really knows where he is or what he’s up to. I do think his behaviour has added to her stress. She is completely in love with Cameron but at the moment she really needs to
focus on Sarah and the baby.

Debbie has given birth once before. How did you find having to act out labour?

Pretending to give birth has to be my least favourite thing ever. I can’t say that I’m comfortable doing it. I think it’s quite a difficult thing to do because labour is such a personal thing. If you are acting out labour you have to exaggerate it a little bit. As it has to look a bit more dramatic than a normal labour. It’s a really difficult thing because you want to get it right and make it utterly convincing.

Do you think it will be different this time as you have had your own child?

Having had Buster, I know a lot more about giving birth but I don’t think you can ever compare one labour with another because they are all so different. In fact my own labour was very calm and I think I was calm and focussed. I have a feeling that this on screen birth will be anything but calm.

What can viewers expect from the 40th week?

There is so much going on. The show is absolutely packed with great storylines and many of these are coming to a head. There are lots of surprises and twists and turns. It will be a great week.

How does it feel to play such a big part in Emmerdale’s 40th celebrations?

I feel very privileged to be a part of the 40th action. I can’t say I’m not nervous for the live episode because obviously that is terrifying but it’s nice to feel they can trust me with something as big as this.

How has Debbie changed over the years?

I’ve played Debbie for almost 10 years. She has changed massively. She’s always been a very strong character and I think they have maintained this. Debbie certainly has got her own mind and will do exactly what she wants to do. But she has grown up. I suppose everybody changes from when they were a teenager. Debbie has many responsibilities now.

Do you have anything in common with Debbie?

I hope I don’t have too much in common with Debbie! I wouldn’t say I do, however like her I definitely have my own mind but that’s probably about it.

Do you enjoy playing Debbie?

I love playing Debbie, she is brilliant. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. The time goes so quickly and I’ve gone from storyline to storyline which has been brilliant. There is rarely a time when Debbie is doing nothing. I still feel challenged by this role.

What’s been your favourite storyline to work on?

Over the years there have been so many great stories. I have enjoyed this affair storyline as the audience know what is happening but Debbie doesn’t. I am finding it interesting to play because I have to be careful not to let that show in my performance.

How are you feeling about the live episode?

I am hoping the live episode goes really well on the night. So much work has gone into it from so many different sides. From the props department, to the director, to us, to the producer, everyone. I think it’s such a big thing, whether it goes right or wrong it will be talked about. I am absolutely terrified.

What are you most nervous about?

I’m most nervous about messing it up for someone else. Not hitting my mark or not getting that line out for another actor or messing it up for the camera guy because I’ve looked the wrong way. Whatever it is, once you have made the mistake there is no second chance they have to kind of roll with it or fix it on the spot.

Have you been given any advice for this live episode?

Tony Prescott, the director is amazing. He is absolutely brilliant and we will get everything we need from him. As Tony knows live television inside out, because he has been in the business for a long time and has done live episodes of soap before.

And here’s what Dominic had to say…

Tell us about Cameron’s feelings for both Debbie and Chas.

It is a messy situation and I don’t think Cameron knows what he wants at the moment. He loves Debbie massively; he adores Sarah and loves having a family unit. However, he also has very deep feelings for Chas. Ultimately he is confused. He has accepted Chas is marrying Dan but he has now suddenly been thrown back into the mix because Carl is
blackmailing them. So although the affair is over, he and Chas have become partners in crime again.

How is he planning on dealing with Carl’s threats to expose their affair?

Cameron is currently spinning plates. Chas is away with Dan and he can’t get hold of her. It’s like a noose round his neck that is continually tightening. He is starting to lie to people and ‘oh boy’ what a tangled web he is weaving! By lying to one person means telling a different lie to someone else, so ultimately at some point it is all going to come crashing down.

How is Cameron coping with the pressure?

Very well under the circumstances! It has been really fun. It is almost like I am playing five different characters. One moment I am the love interest for Debbie, the devoted father who is always there for the sickly child. Then I’m the good step dad to Sarah trying to keep her cheered up, and then I am the villain alongside Carl. Cameron is also a different person around the rest of the Dingle family. When you see him on his own he looks like a shadow of himself. Cameron is slowly breaking. He wants to curl up in a ball and cry. He is wasting away from the inside.

What can viewers expect from the 40th episodes?

Viewers can expect long awaited fireworks. It will have been worth the wait. It is all going to come to a head in a big way!

How does it feel to play such a big part in Emmerdale’s 40th celebrations?

It feels amazing to be part of the 40th I feel privileged. I couldn’t have asked for a better gig to come my way at such a great time.

Have you enjoyed the storyline?

It is great to play villains and this one has been really nice to get my teeth into. It helps that Cameron was so charming and now he is has become so duplicitous. I think what Cameron is good at doing is being your worst nightmare but with a twinkle in his eye.

How would you describe your time on Emmerdale?

I’m having a fantastic time. I joined the cast from The Bill. There’s a very similar feel to the two productions, because it is an on going drama and everyone is in it together. Emmerdale has a really good ensemble feel to it. I think it works best when everyone is fired with the same energy and the same pace and the same enthusiasm for the scripts and the work. I’ve heard people that have been here for years say there hasn’t been a cast as strong as this before or certainly for a long time, so that is really good.

Is there anyone in particular you have learnt from?

I have learnt so much from many of the cast such as Emma Atkins, Charley Webb and Lucy Pargeter. They are all fantastic actors. I’d love to work more with Mark Charnock and Dominic Brunt. They’re a couple of geniuses at improvisation. They bounce off each other brilliantly. They are funny and take what they are given and they don’t make it too heightened. It’s always believable.

How are you feeling about the live episode?

Every time I hear that four letter word ‘live’ I get a sort of numb sensation in my left arm and I think I’m about to have a bit of a clutcher. I’m trying not to think about it too much in that sense. I’m really looking forward to it, I think it will be a good challenge. I’m looking forward to the live element. There is a real buzz. There is a real adrenaline to the atmosphere and I am hoping that is what carries me through.

What are you most nervous about?

It is making my heart race to think of someone counting us in. They will say: “Okay, coming back from the break now and 5, 4“ and then they will show three fingers and mouth the rest. The time will count down and they will point at me as if to say now we’re live! A red light will be on that I will see out of the corner of my eye and then I hope I can speak!

I so don’t envy them this live performance, but I’m really looking forward to it. Are you?

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.

1 Comment

  1. arti sharma on September 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

    hi i was wondering will u have any interviews with tom lister or lucy pargeter about emmerdale by any chance?

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