Speaking about his role as Cain Dingle, Jeff Hordley has been discussing Emmerdale’s impending 50th anniversary on television.
Where do you even begin when it comes to Cain?
He is a former criminal, a loving parent, and he always seeks retribution when someone he cares about is harmed (watch your back, Al). It really wouldn’t feel right if Cain wasn’t in the show since he is complicated and complex, just like all the other Dingles and just like the other members of his family.
Jeff got down to chat about a variety of topics as the anniversary was about to begin in a matter of hours. Who makes him chuckle while filming, what plot he found difficult to film but so rewarding, and when did he first arrive on set.
What is your first memory of your first day on Emmerdale?
I distinctly recall traveling on the M62 from Manchester, where I was residing at the time, and thinking, “Oh my God, I’m going to be one of the Dingles” since that famous family was so well-known.
I felt I was going to be a part of this family because there were so many distinct Dingles, including Zak, Sam, Butch, Mandy, Lisa, and Marlon. I can recall approaching the village and traveling down the road while being rather outdoorsy.
admiring the wildlife, including the deer and birds, along the trail.
We were playing brothers and it was our first time ever acting in a scene. My first scene was at the Dingles set, where I was working with Sam’s actor James Hooton, who had been away for a while.
When I first heard James’ accent in that scene and then when I heard him change into Sam, I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, this man is wonderful and he blew me away.” Although I was supposed to be extremely unpleasant in the scene, on the inside I was anxious, thrilled, and attempting to maintain composure to make sure the action worked.
What is your fondest memory about being on the show?
I stayed on the program for six years before leaving, and I was informed the reason why Patsy Kensit’s character was leaving.
We betrayed the Kings and obtained millions of pounds from them; after that, we were to fly away in an airplane and steal the money, but just before landing, Cain betrays Sadie by pushing her out of the aircraft and taking off on his own. I had to be photographed in the aircraft and on the
The finest way to wrap up my first six years on Emmerdale was to fly over the Dingles after having spent six years in this fantastic show and getting to see this gorgeous landscape that I had been working on from an aerial perspective.
What is your overriding funniest memory of an on screen scene?
Charley Webb, Emma Atkins, and I were in a scene at the back of Debbie’s house on a Friday that was the final scene of the day because everyone was exhausted from a hectic week. We occasionally laugh, corpse, and get euphoric. Once you start, you can’t stop. When we looked at one other, she would be laughing so hard that she started weeping, and Emma would be doing the same. Between the three of us, we were setting each other off, and we were trying to calm ourselves down.
When the director arrived on set, he had to act somewhat like a school teacher, which was understandable because he wanted us to finish the job. However, the more he did it, the more we laughed like mischievous students.
Give us some of your favourite scenes?
The underwater scenes with Cain, Nate, and Moira on the lake and them ending up beneath the water were one that was a great struggle, which I didn’t believe would be until I went and did my diving practice.
I had never snorkeled or used a regulator before, so I entered this pool in Leeds, dove in with the mask on, took it off, held my breath, and did it again. However, as soon as I removed the mask, everything became really claustrophobic, and my vision became completely blurry. It was quite tense.
When Zak beat Cain, it made for a fantastic scene at the Woolpack. He has hurt Amy and Jai, he is despised by everyone in the community, and when he enters the tavern, everyone is staring at him as if they were in a western.
Nobody wants to talk to Cain, but he slowly eliminates individuals by saying, “You’re this, you’re that,” and I believe he even makes fun of Edna’s headgear. I had a lot of fun acting out this extremely well-written scenario, and it was a truly memorable time.
The Cain and Faith Flashback episode was incredibly unique; what I enjoyed about it was that you got to see Cain’s history, Chas’s history, and Faith’s background, as well as the reasons behind why he became who he was.
Because when they were both 10 years old, Faith abandoned him and Chas. Their mother abandoned children as their father abused them, but she was also preoccupied with herself, which explains a lot. It was a beautiful episode to film and really well written.
I adore working with Sally Dexter; she is brilliant beyond belief. I really like working on the live episode because everyone on that floor had to participate, from the boom operators to the camera operators to the make-up artists to the props department.
There was no chance to try again because our company’s friendship was so strong. Although it was nerve-racking, we practiced everything to the the last detail, and it went incredibly well. After finishing that episode, we all had a very unique sense of happiness.
The diving instructor asked me if everything was okay as I ascended back to the top, and I had to admit that I was feeling rather anxious. I was extremely anxious getting into that tank, but we completed a couple more sessions, and everything was good.
I can’t wear the mask, I just have to get accustomed to this, I thought on the first take we did, which was in Basildon after Natalie told me about the book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.” When I first descended, all I could hear was my own breathing, and it was a wonderful, tranquil descent.
I was standing next to the diver and wearing a weight belt to keep me anchored to the platform Natalie was standing on.
I could see Natalie giving me the thumbs up, and I could hear Rachel, the first assistant director, speaking on the microphone. Rachel’s voice was quite clear underwater, which is strange since it sounded like she was speaking at a bus stop or over an airport tannoy. I squatted and grasped Natalie’s leg to position myself for the picture, but as my body tried to float upward and as my breathing abruptly changed from relaxed to scared, I thought, “I can’t do this!”
But I did recall Experience the Fear and Act Anyway, I hung on to Nat and heard the action, did the take, and then climbed up to the top and thought I’ve done it, there’s nothing to be afraid of here. After I’d done that, it turned into one of the best shoots I’ve ever done, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of it was incredible. Nat and I probably both concur on that. For me, it was a genuine moment of praise.
What do you think it is about Cain that appeals to viewers?
The Dingles family is unquestionably at the bottom of the social scale in Emmerdale, but I think that’s just part of the appeal—people tend to adore villains and baddies and they like underdogs. Everyone selected the Rolling Stones because they thought the Beatles were too squeaky clean, according to the popular saying, “Would you rather your daughters date a Beatle or a Rolling Stone?”
Zak almost killed Cain – tell us about this storyline and you shaved your head didn’t you?
They did a great job of writing that plot; there were a lot of suspects, and nobody suspected Zak, but he was acting in order to protect others from his kid, who was acting out of control. That gave rise to another plot thread for Steve and me, and we got to act in this fantastic two-hander episode about being open and honest with each other about our relationship.
Do you love being a Dingle?
I do because every member of the family makes for well-rounded, entertaining, and brilliant characters. However, each character’s actor also makes for a lot of laughs on set. We all get a little excited when there are moments involving the Dingle family, so they have to tone us down a little on set.
My earliest memories are of the chaotic breakfast scenes at the Dingles. With Cain being the character that he is, he wolfs down food, so if you’re doing six takes I end up eating so much. There was so much toast, sausages, and bacon that I’m sure I put on a stone in my first six months at Emmerdale.
I do recall one scene with Jim and Lisa Riley, who is really cheeky and humorous, in which just as we are about to begin, Lisa reaches over to Jim and smears a generous amount of tomato sauce on his face before they both yell “action.”
They just jumped right in, and I was like, “What the heck is going on?” I believe that the chaos and good times we were having previously were reflected in the setting. Good times.
What do you love about Cain?
I enjoy how his character has developed as he gets older; when I returned after a few years away, layers had been added, and he was no longer just this lone operator who resided at the top of the Dingles and had no friends.
He had become more of a credible character and had started working at the garage. He also started making friends in the community. The writers had created a history for Cain and the amazing personalities he had dealt with throughout the years while I had been away from the show, and it has continued to give him new layers.
What other storyline has had you gripped?
I thought the underwater imagery at the bar was incredibly cool, but I couldn’t be involved in that plot because I was traveling. I was supposed to be in France, but they filmed a few sequences of me in a hotel in Yorkshire. I felt Duncan Foster’s show was fantastic when I watched it. At the end of each half, you were left wondering what would happen next because Mark, Charley, Lucy, and Dom were all so interesting to watch and had you on the edge of your seat.
Emmerdale’s best week ever The Hotten Bypass was the only thing I can recall ever watching while not participating in it.
It was really creative storytelling and really beautifully shot, it was incredibly exciting television, and it made me extremely pleased to be on the program every night when we got to the same moment between whoever people were featured in that episode that all culminated in them in the car crash.
What do you love most about Emmerdale?
I enjoy working with the crew and the other employees in the building, and I enjoy our interactions in front of the camera. I have some pretty close friends here, and I’ll be friends with them forever.
I fell in love with the scenery, the Yorkshire Dales, and Yorkshire itself; this love keeps me happy and keeps me watching this show.