Danny Miller has done a lot of crying lately. In fact, we can’t remember the last time Emmerdale’s Aaron Livesy cracked a smile, but the misery comes to an end when the scrap yard dealer’s abusive father Gordon is sent to prison.
TV Times catches up with Danny as he celebrates the end of his year of tears…
Does this mean you can take your foot off the pedal a little now that there’s closure with this storyline?
“Of course I am always on the ball at work, but after a year of really emotional scenes, it feels as if I can relax a little bit now. There isn’t so much pressure on my shoulders. I am also taking a holiday this month – I want to sit on a beach until I burn.
“Usually, when I go on holiday, I am with the lads and it always ends up being a bit of a mess, because there’s some partying involved. This time, I am going to kick back, relax, read a book, go for a swim, that sort of thing. I can’t wait!”
You deserve a break after all those emotional scenes…
“You have to take time out to recharge the batteries, especially when the work gets so intense. I was very naive to that when I was younger. I wanted everything done at 100 miles an hour and when I look back, I don’t know how I managed to maintain that level of work for so long.”
Tell us a bit about Gordon’s sentencing…
“Aaron is there in court and looks Gordon in the eye when his father is sentenced and he also has Robert Sugden and his half-sister Liv there for support. Justice has been done and Aaron wants to move on. However, even though he is saying goodbye to his demons, he will never forget what happened to him as a kid. Now, he is going to man up and be the father figure that Liv needs in her life.
“I am interested to see the relationship between Liv and Aaron develop a little bit. Aaron has found the light at the end of the tunnel through Liv.”
What’s Isobel Steele, who plays Liv, like to work with?
“Such a pleasure. I am kind of a supporting act for her, which I love to do. She is so talented, it is nice to watch her develop whilst I am in the background.”
Is there any more drama to come?
“Oh yes! Although Gordon has been sentenced, there is a huge twist to the story, which will have far-reaching ramifications.”
Many people have been moved by your storyline and voting for you as you’re up for Best Actor at the British Soap Awards.
“From the start, I was determined to get the child abuse storyline right. It is a real issue for many and I felt I couldn’t do it anything less than perfectly. When I hear that people have been moved by my acting or when they write in to say that seeing what Aaron has been through has given them the courage to seek help, it makes it all worthwhile.
“There are some great people in the Best Actor category and it is an honour to be up there with them. I am not precious about these things and will be happy as long as Emmerdale wins something.”
You must feel a real sense of achievement with the work you have done on Emmerdale?
“I am, but the the thing I am most proud of is my charity Once Upon A Smile, founded in 2010 when I was just 20 years’ old with my pal, actor Daniel Jillings. The charity, which helps grieving families, has assisted more than 400 people since it was founded.”
What inspired you to set the charity up?
“I played charity football a lot when I started at Emmerdale in 2008 and I played semi-professional football for Stockport County and thought I might have a career in it, but as I like to party, that wouldn’t have worked. Anyway, whenever I played a charity match, I would ask how much we raised and where the money was going to, but we weren’t really kept in the loop. I wanted to carry on doing the matches, but I also wanted to have more control.
“Then, in 2010, I was at the funeral of Gavin Blyth our producer who died when he was 40. I was watching everybody there grieve for his wife, Susie, and I saw there was an opportunity to help. When a breadwinner dies it is hard for the rest of the family to grieve, as they can be so busy trying to pay the bills. Once Upon A Smile will step in and do things like pay bills, fund respite breaks, buy headstones and offer support groups for people who have lost a family member.
“One man called up and said ‘I want my wife back for Christmas’ – he had lost his wife and daughter. We said we couldn’t help him with that, but what he actually meant was, he wanted her ashes from the crematorium, but couldn’t afford the £800 bill to get them back. So, we paid it and she was home later that day. So, the charity is the thing I am most proud of. It means a lot to me and I will stick with it forever.”
We hear your Dad gets involved too…
“The charity is hosting its Grand Ball on Saturday, May 7 and my dad Vince who works as an entertainer, will be there as compere. We’re close and he is very supportive of me. Whenever he does a gig, he invites me along – I think he wants me there so he can show me off.
“It’s thanks to him that I am doing the job I love. He and my mum helped me get here and encouraged me all the way. My dad and I have never actually hosted anything together, but we do have an idea for something in the future… watch this space.”