Emmerdale's Paddy Dingle actor admits 'big responsibility' with suicide storyline



Emmerdale star Dominic Brunt says he feels a huge ­responsibility when it comes to playing a man wrestling with suicidal thoughts.

Despite never having to face the issue in his own life, he appreciates it is a trauma that haunts many families, with men often more reluctant to open up about their mental health.

As his character Paddy Dingle attempts to take his own life on the ITV show, Dominic says: “I am fortunate not to be living any element that Paddy is about to go through.

“I am not suicidal and I never have been but I feel a big responsibility to portray this tragic situation right. It’s so sad and it is horrific for anyone going through it.

“It can happen to anyone and Paddy isn’t the sort of person you’d normally expect it to. But so many times, people have said, ‘I can’t believe it, I thought they were fine’. People can mask it.

“For poor Paddy, he does start to feel isolated and alone. He hides himself away and it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Paddy Dingle will attempt to take his own life on Emmerdale ( ITV)

Dominic, 52, says he hopes Paddy’s plight will shine a light on the serious issue that affects thousands every year.

Working with Andy Man’s Club, a male suicide prevention charity, and the Samaritans, the actor, who has starred in the soap for 26 years, says one of the biggest problems is the fact men feel unable to share how they are really feeling.

Dominic explains: “I am an actor and we are ­always very talkative but I can ­remember how we never used to talk properly when I used to work as a welder after I left school.

“We never went into work and said, ‘How was your weekend? Terrible’. We would say ‘all right’ and that was it.

Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) and Paddy (Dominic Brunt) on their wedding day ( ITV)
dominic and his wife
Dominic Brunt with wife Joanne Mitchell

“The problem is as men we set ourselves up as a patriarchal figure, we compare ourselves to other men, we want to be a better man than that man and I think in society we’ve given ourselves a role that doesn’t consider talking about our feelings.

“We’ll talk about anything else, I think some men do feel embarrassed to admit they’re feeling down.”

The figures on suicides are heartbreaking, 5,219 were registered in 2021, 307 more than in 2020. And men are much more likely to take their own lives than women.

Paddy’s life has been spiralling out of control following his marriage breakdown and his inability to come to terms with the loss of his baby daughter, Grace, nearly five years ago.

With his job as a vet also running into difficulty, Paddy becomes more and more isolated. Eventually feeling as if he has nothing more to live for.

Paddy in the pub
Paddy's story takes a heartbreaking turn next month

Paddy’s attempted suicide will air next month.

Dominic is staying silent on what happens but he has been determined not to let the storyline interfere with his own happy family life with wife and Emmerdale co-star Joanne Mitchell and their two sons.

“I’ve done a lot of research, together with our production team,” he says. “The producers have been so supportive. They told me and the cast and crew that if we found the storyline too upsetting, we could walk away.

“But I feel honoured and proud they have trusted me with this and I want to do the best I possibly can do.

“At the same time, I don’t want to get too close to it. I’ve got to be able to leave the plotline at the Emmerdale door.”

His coping tools to unwind include the long drive back from the TV studio to his home in Yorkshire. He adds: “I’ve got a rattly old Land Rover and whenever I feel like I am starting to get stressed, I’ll avoid alcohol and caffeine. I drink a lot of water and make sure I get plenty of sleep.”

Dominic stresses he never takes anything for granted despite playing one of the most popular characters in the soap.

Paddy and Chas have both been trying to parent their little one Eve
The actor doesn't take his role for granted

But the down to earth star says he knows the day will eventually come when his time on Emmerdale is up.

“After 26 years, I have dodged many, many bullets metaphorically,” he says. “You can’t assume a soap is a job for life and I still feel I need to justify my place. I never get bored of Emmerdale or my character and I do get nervous. Mark ­Charnock and I recently said that when we first joined the soap, we were the lighter side of the Dingles.

“We could have been left behind as a relic of old Emmerdale but it’s nice to still be written for so brilliantly. We continue to work very hard to justify our place in this magical building.”

He pauses, smiles and then adds: “But one day there will be a story that involves me leaving. And I will come back as a cleaner on the Monday! I like it here so much and I feel so incredibly supported by the rest of the team. I feel part of the jigsaw puzzle.”

Paddy’s mental health crisis is one of many big storylines that Dominic has been involved in over the years and he thinks Emmerdale does a great job in highlighting so many different issues. “Soaps aren’t patronising, they want to help,” he says. “Soaps can humanise and shine a light on things that matter.

“Whatever happens to Paddy in the future, it is going to be important for him to realise that he is now capable of suicidal thoughts and anything can trigger them off.

“If this story helps even one person watching who might be feeling alone or vulnerable and it triggers off ­something that tells them to get help, then that would be so great. I’d feel incredibly flattered they had.”

If you are affected by this storyline, help can be found at andysmanclub.co.uk or www.samaritans.org

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