Emmerdale’s Aaron Dingle is going to go through hell when he’s sent to prison for 12 months, suffering abuse at the hands of his cellmates.
Bosses at the ITV soap have built a brand new set for the special episode which will show what is going on with Aaron when he’s behind bars.
In a tragic twist other inmates are going to discover he’s the son of child abuse Gordon Livesy and that will put a target on his back.
Emmerdale boss Iain MacLeod said they made the decision to show life behind bars for Aaron because the state of British prisons is across the news at the moment with many facilities under the control of the inmates.
Iain explained: “We’ve got a really special stand alone type episode which will be a day in the life of Aaron Dingle – convict.
“We thought we’d do something because it’s quite topical as well in that there’s a lot of news issues around prison and prison life and the kind of challenges people face in prison so we just thought it was a really good opportunity to explore some of that using a really well liked group of characters.”
He added: “What we didn’t want to do, and what sometimes happen in a soap, is put a popular character behind bars and then you never see them.
“We just thought we shouldn’t shy away from what it’s like, obviously Aaron’s experiences with jail are numerous and complicated and we’ll be touching upon the fact that Gordon took his own life in jail and that has its own, hopefully quite surprising effect, on how Aaron is able to cope in there.”
Asked if the fact he’s Gordon’s son could cause problems for Aaron, Iain said: “I couldn’t possibly comment but you may not be far wrong in guessing that.
“The story becomes can he escape his past and can he get over his past, what impact does the struggle he has inside have on his family on the outside and what degree does he feel able to be honest with them about what he’s going through because Robert, Liv everyone is worried sick about him.
“However bad it gets in there, is it the right thing to share it with them? It’s only going to make it worse for them in terms of their level of anxiety.
“It’s big, complicated and interesting and feels very much of our time. It feels quite topical. With every news report that comes out I feel more and more pleased that we’ve been able to do something in this area.”
Some fans have questioned why bosses even decided to put Aaron in prison when he was so close to getting his happy ending with Robert Sugden, but Iain believes the couple needed another test to their relationship.
He said: “We wanted to test Robert and Aaron. Obviously they love each other massively and the best way to see that is to test them, see them come through it.
“We also thought that ultimately Aaron’s trajectory in terms of his paranoia about Robert and the struggles he’s had with Gordon and all the rest of it, it felt like the natural place in Aaron’s personality is to express that as violence.
“We’ve seen that before, that attack on Kasim it felt very natural and motivated. Once Aaron had done that we thought, as storytellers, we can’t just make that go away. He has to face some consequence for that.
“So it was partly to test the relationship, test the family and tell a really topical modern story about prison life. Also we felt Aaron had to face some consequences for throwing his fists about.”
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