Updated 27th May 2004
Played by Steve Halliwell
A Huge Big Thank you to Paul Berridge who has made various profiles and photos availabe to me. They were previously on his Beckindale site (that is no more). This page is based on some of his original material. I have inserted the green box.
The patriach of the family.
First Appearance: 20 October 1994 (in a fight with Ned Glover)
Last Appearance: (to date) 31st December 2002
Expected back Thursday 16th October 2003
Jobs: Scrap man, Pig Merchant and general dodgy schemer.
Born: ? (he was around 55 years old in 2002, official sources suggest 19 January 1952)
Married 1st and Divorced from Nellie;
Married 2nd: Lisa Clegg in 28 Jan 1998
|The day the Dingles of Emmerdale faced eviction from their home brought back many heartbreaking memories for Steve Halliwell, the actor who plays Zak, head of the terrible Dingle clan. 'I had first-hand experience of bailiffs at the door,' recalls Steve, who wrote a play called All My Joy, about the decline of industry in the north-west and his own experience of abject poverty during one of his many spells out of work before joining Emmerdale.|
|The pressures of life with long gaps between acting jobs led to the break-up of both his marriages and the loss of his house. 'After marrying for the second time and having a child, it was a real struggle to pay the mortgage and I ended up losing the house,' says Steve. 'I sold it to pay off the taxman and the mortgage people because I'd fallen behind with the payments. Because I'd been an erratic payer, no one would give me another mortgage. Fortunately, I had a bit of money left afterwards and for £I0,000 cash I managed to buy a house in Burnley that needed quite a bit of work doing to it.|
|'But the acting was so thin on the ground that I started writing. I spent a couple of months on All My Joy and it was accepted by the M6 Theatre Company, based in Rochdale, which did a community tour with it. It was about a man of 50 who was on the scrapheap. I came from that sort of background and felt passionately about it. I just felt how horrendous it must be for people whove been in engineering and had acquired a skill that was no longer of any use. '|
|On leaving school at I5, Steve had taken his first job in the Bury papermill where his father worked. 'Although I had a far-away dream of being an actor, it was so alien to the working-class community I lived in that people didn't talk about doing that sort of thing - it wasn't on the agenda,' he says. 'I had done bits in school plays and my mother, who played the piano for the local church, was involved in the amateur dramatics society. I would watch rehearsals of pantomimes, and the shock of discovering that the dame was in fact the vicar, and the fun and surreal nature of theatre, appealed to me and made me laugh - and the dancing girls were nice to look at!|
|'But, as a child, I wanted to play football professionally. One other kid who was quite good at football was doing drama classes at the time, so I thought that made it all right and we did bits and pieces in panto at the age of nine.'|
|After six months working in the paper mill, which he remembers as 'pretty grim', Steve came to the realisation that he should have worked harder at school and decided to enrol at technical college, from where he emerged with 0-levels in art and English. He took a job as an apprentice engineer in a heavy engineering company. 'I was doing what was expected of me - getting a trade - but I was no good at it,' admits Steve. 'I lasted about a year there, then started travelling around doing different jobs. I worked in hotel kitchens in London and did seasonal jobs in Torquay. I was searching for something and sensed there was something more I could do with my life, but I wasn't quite sure what.'|
|It was after a summer in Torquay, spent 'boozing and chasing girls', that Steve made a decision that was to change his life forever. His father had retired through ill-health and moved to Lincolnshire. 'Then,' says Steve, 'I received a telegram saying that my father had died. He had been through the depression of the thirties and the whole work-ethic thing but, whereas my brother had joined the Navy and become a submariner, he always thought that I wasn't doing anything with my life. That made me think, "I have got to prove to my dad that there's more to me than this."|
|'When all my friends went back up north, I stayed in Torquay. I was sitting in the library and saw a copy of The Stage for the first time. There was an advert for part-time drama courses at Mountview Theatre School, in London. I worked for a few more months in Torquay, then went to London, found a bedsit in Camden Town, applied to drama school and was accepted. I washed up in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank restaurant by day and trained at Mountview in the evenings and at weekends.'|
|During the second half of the two-year course, Steve took a job as the drama school's caretaker and scene shifter, with a bedsit on the premises. On leaving, he became an assistant stage manager at the Bolton Octagon and married his childhood sweetheart. 'I couldn't really afford to,' says Sieve, 'and the marriage lasted just three years. I left acting for a short time, thinking that real people are more important than this fantasy world. But, once the bug has bitten, there is nothing you can do. So I returned to acting and worked in fringe theatre. I tried to juggle acting and marriage and, in the end, the pressure was too great - my wife and I split up.'|
|Steve subsequently gained experience in writer and director Mike Leighs early fringe theatre plays in London, acted in repertory theatre around the country and made his television debut in Daft Man Blues, written by David Halliwell (no relation). 'I was so entranced, thinking, "I'm a TV actor",' recalls Steve. 'It was such a big thing to me, coming from where I did. As I got off the Tube in London, I blurted out my thoughts - "Who's a TV actor?" Standing next to me was Denholm Elliott, who turned round and looked, obviously thinking, "Who's that taking the mick?"'|
|Although work was sporadic, Steve appeared in many television programmes before joining Emmerdale, including All Creatures Great and Small, Brookside, the nuclear-war drama Threads, Cracker and Medics. He had a regular role as social worker Peter Bishop in two series of The Practice and played four different parts in Coronation Street, including head barman Bob Cairns, working alongside Liz McDonald during her spell as manager of the Queens pub. He also had a small non-speaking part as a Russian courier in a car with Pierce Brosnan in the film The Fourth Protocol, starring Michael Caine.|
|Landing the role of Zak Dingle in Emmerdale was, says Steve, 'the greatest break in my professional life'. He adds, 'I was brought in as a violent nutter, then after they introduced the rest of the family this workshy, lovable rogue started to emerge, and they started writing more comic elements for the Dingles. I was sorry Sandra Gough left her role as Zaks wife, Nellie, because we worked well together, but her health wasn't good. But then they brought in the amazing Lisa Riley as Zaks niece, Mandy, so the dynamics of a household with a powerful woman remain.'|
|Zak Married Lisa Clegg on 28th January 1998.|
Taken from the emmerdale companion by Anthony Hayward (1998)
Digital Spy: "Emmerdale's" Zak to take a rest
Posted on Saturday, 3rd August 2002 at 12:15 BST by Beth Hart
Steve Halliwell who plays Zak Dingle in Emmerdale is to leave
the show for a break.
Zak hangs up flat cap for a break
Emmerdale's Zak hangs up flat cap for a break
Emmerdale's Zak Dingle is taking a break from the show so actor Steve Halliwell can spend more time with his family.
Halliwell says the soap's producers have been supportive of his request to take time away from the show.
He said there had been no rows or money issues behind his request.
The 56-year-old actor, who has played Zak since 1994, said: "After the best part of a decade with the programme, I feel that now is the time to leave Zak behind for a little while."
He added: "I love Zak, I love Emmerdale but I've asked for a spell out to spend some quality time with my family and friends.
"I have absolutely no axe to grind with Emmerdale or those who make it. This isn't about salary or storylines, it is quite simply that I'm ready for some down time and looking forward to a rest.
"I've just got to pick up the phone and they'll write me back into storylines."
Emmerdale producer Steve Frost said Zak's spell away from the show will begin towards the end of the year, but the rest of the Dingle clan will remain.
BBC Puresoap 28 November 2002
Dingle goes in search of fortune
Sun - Christmas Day Spoilers in Emmerdale
Soap Psychic... in Emmerdale
Viewers last saw the Dingle patriarch heading off to South America in search of the family’s fortune – much to wife Lisa’s dismay.
Scriptwriters came up with the temporary exit for Zak after star Steve Halliwell announced he needed to take time off.
But now Steve has spent some quality time with his family he is ready to make his small screen return.
He says, “I am delighted to be rejoining Emmerdale after a relaxing six-month break and looked forward to seeing what the scriptwriters have in store for Zak.
“He’s a fantastic character to play and always seems to cause havoc in one way or another.”
And Zak will have a lot to contend with when he arrives back in the village. Wife Lisa is reportedly going to get closer to boss Eric Pollard and son Cain may rediscover his passion with former lover Charity.
One thing’s for sure, life in the Dingle
household is never dull.
Emmerdale - The Great British Soap Home Page
Main Dingle Index