Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock talks to TV Times magazine about Marlon’s new role as a parent and why he’s so proud of his own father…

How is it acting with Harry and Theo, the two babies who play Leo?
“They are wonderful babies! When we’ve finished a shot, the mums say ‘Do you want to hand him back?’ and I’m like ‘No, I’m fine.’ I’m loving it. I am constantly cooing over them and singing to them. I’m enjoying them enormously. It’s been a wonderful bonus.”

How has Marlon reacted to the birth?
“Marlon has been ready to be a dad for a very long time now and it’s a little piece of loveliness he never anticipated happening around now. It’s changed him like it changes all men. It’s filled a lot of gaps in his life and from now on, he’s not going to worry about himself any more, he’s just going to worry about his baby.”

And how does Marlon feel about the strain Paddy and Rhona are under?
“Marlon doesn’t want them to split up. Rhona is from down south and if that happens, the baby will go with her, so he has a vested interest in keeping them together.”

Do you like it that Marlon is so gooey over the babies?
“Yes, Marlon is not blokey even though he tries to be. He’s like me. I love my football, I go every week, but I am not a blokey bloke. Like Marlon, I’m a bit of a wuss really. I’m quite sensitive, I cry at films and stuff like that.”

Which films make you well up?
“My favourite is It’s A Wonderful Life, which still gets me every time. I am a total girl when I watch that film. I once went to the cinema with Dominic Brunt who plays Paddy to see Saving Private Ryan. At the end, Dom notice my shoulders shaking and said ‘It’s not funny, why are you laughing?’ But I wasn’t, I was crying my eyes out! I get more sentimental as I get older. I like men who are sensitive and emotionally open. That’s what Marlon is like and I think he would like to pass that onto his son.”

What did your own father teach you?
“My dad taught me to keep my feet on the ground, work hard and treat everybody as you would expect to be treated yourself. He’s a people person my dad, he likes human beings. He used to be a newsagent and he was the best because he made everyone who came in feel special. I’m very proud of my dad. He’s changed his life at several points and is an amazing man. He had a working class background and started out as an engineer. He became a newsagent, but kept changing gears until he became a toastmaster – I wonder if that’s where I get my performing gene from?”

What are your memories as a child with your dad?
“I have some great memories of him. We used to go to the park in Bolton to play football. He wasn’t the world’s best footballer, but he did it because I loved it and I remember him booting the ball into the air and it went so high, I thought he was superhuman. He worked as an engineer six days a week and would then work weekends as a window cleaner when he’d cycle for miles and miles. I remember the anticipation of my dad coming back from his rounds on a Saturday with a Marvel comic for me. We’re still very close and see a lot of each other. All parent-child relationships are special, I guess you learn how to be a man from your dad, so a son’s relationship with his father is crucial.”

Are you hoping to see Marlon and Leo’s relationship develop?
“Yes, I like this aspect of Marlon and really hope the baby stays. Leo brings out the best parts of him and so far, it’s been a dream to play. All of us, me, Dom and Zoe are enjoying this amazing storyline and are working our socks off to make it as right as it can be. It’s about three people loving a child, the Down’s syndrome is incidental, but we know that we have a big responsibility to parents with these children, to tell the story right and hopefully knock down a few preconceptions. It’s something we’re all taking seriously.

“The great thing is, there’s a real atmosphere on set at the moment. Sets are usually people shouting over one another, but everyone has been really respectful of the babies. They’ve been great. They’ve hardly cried and they haven’t been sick on me. We’ve had a few smelly nappies and that is one time I’ll happily hand them over to their mums. There are certain lines I won’t cross!”