Emmerdale stars Jeff Hordley, Mark Charnock and Sammy Winward tell TV Times magazine about the soap’s sensational 2013 and the exciting year ahead…

Can Emmerdale top its spectacular 2013?

Jeff (Cain Dingle): “We have to. There is no doubt about it. So, the answer is ‘Yes, of course we can.’ Our producer Kate Oates knows how to pace and tell stories and she is one of the reasons we are on fire at the moment.”

Mark (Marlon Dingle): “I think so. There is a self-belief and confidence about us now. We can sense that we are on to something really special. There is stuff that we have already filmed, that is more of the same. Really good drama. I don’t think viewers will be disappointed.”

Sammy (Katie Macey): “We definitely can. We have such a strong cast and both Kate and the writers are always coming up with new ideas.”

How do you feel about the awards you have received this year?

Jeff: “Emmerdale has been the also-ran for years and I have always said that it doesn’t matter as long as we are doing a good job and people are enjoying the show. I didn’t mind sitting there as the underdog, but once you start winning, you are like ‘Yessss!!!’ We have worked hard and we are up there with the other two big soaps now.”

Mark: “Some people are acting as if this is a surprise, but I think we have always been good. Now we are winning awards, it is bringing more media attention and letting people know we are good. We are thrilled to have been given awards and chuffed that people recognise that we are right up there.”

Sammy: “The awards usually go to Coronation Street or EastEnders. Last year, we did feel that we deserved some recognition and it was lovely to get it.”

What was your favourite storyline in 2013?

Jeff: “It has to be the Cameron/Debbie/Chas story. The seed was planted in the live episode back in 2012 and paid off with the siege. I also enjoyed the Rhona drugs storyline, that has been great for my wife [Zoe Henry who plays Rhona] to get her teeth into. I met Zoe at drama school, so I have always known what she is capable of. With that story, she got a chance to flex her muscles.”

Mark: “I echo Jeff on that. The siege was a fantastic piece of event television and fantastic to be involved. As you know, I don’t do butch, but I did have a moment in that pub. It was the perfect ending to that story and I think Dominic Power who played Cameron was sensational.”

Sammy: “I was away when they filmed the siege, so I sat down and watched it as a viewer. I was sat on the edge of my seat, shouting at the television. It was the culmination of a fantastic storyline.”

Who would you like to see more of in 2014?

Jeff: “I suppose that would be some actors who have not shown their wares, but thinking about it, I think we have all had a big 2013. I’ll always want to watch people like Natalie Robb, Charley Webb and Emma Atkins. They are such good actresses.”

Mark: “I’m really excited about seeing the new Barton clan on screen more. They are going to be really strong characters. I am also interested to see what Charity is going to do next now that she and Jai are on the rocks.”

Sammy: “I’m with Mark. The new Bartons are all very different individually and I think they will cause lots of trouble.”

What does Emmerdale do particularly well?

Jeff: “Emmerdale has always had a strong comedy side but at the moment we’ve got the balance right with the comedy and the drama. Sometimes you need those lighter moments against the darkness.”

Mark: “I agree with Jeff. Mixing comedy and drama like that is such a clever skill. There are characters like Val and Pollard who can make you guffaw, but then they can go into a more serious mode and turn a scene on its head.”

Sammy: “I think the storylines are really strong. And they are well paced. You never feel that things are dragging on too long or over too quickly.”

And who would you like to do more scenes with?

Jeff: “Laura Norton. I think Kerry is a fantastic character and I love Laura’s acting. She’s so funny. However, I don’t really see her and Cain bouncing off each other.”

Mark: “I didn’t do tons with the Dingles in 2013. I did some work with Cain and I really enjoyed it. I love the way Cain is with Marlon. Marlon gets on his nerves. I would also love to work more with Pollard and Val.”

Sammy: “I am going to be doing more scenes with Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi who plays Leyla which is brilliant as she is one of my best friends. I didn’t have much girly stuff in 2013, so I am looking forward to doing a bit more in 2014.”

Which character scares you the most?

Jeff: “I wouldn’t want to cross Val on a bad day. She’d tear me to bits.”

Mark: “Debbie Dingle. I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her. She has the best death stare in soap.”

Sammy: “Ross Barton has got a bit of an edge and he’s not very nice to Katie.”