After the tragic death of his wife Danny is facing his toughest challenge yet, says Wild At Heart star Stephen Tompkinson.

How has Danny changed since the last series?
“We now see how Danny’s coping since the loss of his second wife – he’s not been the luckiest of men. His stepdaughter Olivia has chosen to go back to England and stay with her dad, whereas her brother Evan is so besotted with Africa; the bush is very much a part of him now.”

Will Evan stay at Mara?
“His dad wants him back and he doesn’t want to leave, which doesn’t give Danny much leeway as far as the law is concerned.”

What does Danny decide to do?
“He feels he has to do something to show Evan that, even though he’s his stepson, he couldn’t be more loving towards him if he was his own son. To all intents and purposes they are father and son through and through.”

And Lucy-Jo Hudson who plays Rosie is set to leave the show this series. Is she leaving Mara for good?
“Lucy-Jo had the best time this year, but we have written her exit in such a way that she can come back. And like any parent, there comes a time when they have to fly the nest.”

The animals in the show are characters in their own right. What is it like to work with them?
“You don’t know what might spook them or what they’d be skittish about, and if you’re in the way, you’re in the firing line.”

Do you have any favourites amongst the animals in the show?
“Glen Afric has become a home from home. I have a dressing room with a balcony and most mornings, Hamley (the giraffe) is there, just with his head on my shoulder.”

“I have done an awful lot of work with him this year. They wrote in the story where Danny, unconscious and alone in the bush, gets protected by a giraffe. I had quite a lot of blood make-up, which was a bit disturbing for him, but it’s made out of syrup, so he enjoyed having a lick of it. When I was lying on the ground, he was very careful with his feet.”

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