After actor Steve Halliwell had a prolonged absence from Emmerdale last year, fans were overjoyed to learn that Zak Dingle will be returning to the ITV soap.
Since 1994, the 68-year-old actor has portrayed one of the soap opera’s most recognizable characters.
Zak, a lovable but occasionally irritable pig farmer, was only meant to be a passing figure in the show, but because the plots surrounding him were so compelling, he was made a permanent fixture.
Fans might not be aware that actor Steve’s past was just as difficult as the life shown on the soap of Zak and the Dingles family.
Before he joined Emmerdale, Steve had battled alcoholism and depression for 50 years, reaching his lowest point during that time.
In a previous interview with TV Times, Steve discussed how he noticed parallels between himself and Zak Dingle and expressed his conviction that he was destined to play the amazing part.
According to Steve, “I can see a trend to me getting to playing Zak,” he told the outlet. I set off on a quest, and it seemed like it was written in my stars that I would portray this man.
“Everything the Dingles went through, I went through too: problems with the police, fights, getting kicked out of my house. In addition, I knew people who had experienced any portions of Zak’s life that I had not.
He also talked openly about getting detained while rough sleeping in London.
Steve told the newspaper that he “became so thin and was so hungry.”
It was against the law to be homeless back then, he continued, and he “was detained for sleeping in an empty Government building.”
He continued, “I was transported to Ashford Remand Prison for two weeks, after which I was placed on probation and sent home.
Steve also mentioned how he was detained following a confrontation with a former gang member.
He claimed that about 11.30 p.m., as they were “wandering home,” one of the gang members “threw a brick through an off-licensing window.”
They left the store with some alcohol in hand, and someone called the police to report seeing “a bearded teenager racing away.”
Steve was detained and “took the rap and got transported to a correctional center for three months” because he wore a beard at the time he was caught.
According to Steve, who wrote about his arduous path in his autobiography If the Cap Fits: My Rocky Road to Emmerdale, getting the role of Zak helped him to turn his life around.
I was born to play Zak Dingle, the cap truly does fit, Steve stated in an interview with The Mirror in 2014.
Then there’s drinking, fighting your way out of circumstances, and sadness, he continued. All of those things and more I’ve experienced.