Sam Dingle

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Sam Dingle
Sam Dingle.jpg
Emmerdale character
Portrayed by James Hooton
Duration1995–1998, 2000–present
First appearanceEpisode 1947
14 February 1995 (1995-02-14)
Introduced by
  • Mervyn Watson (1995)
  • Kieran Roberts (2000)
Emmerdale: The Dingles, For Richer for Poorer (2010)
Classification Present; regular
  • Caretaker
  • sales executive
  • farmhand
  • gamekeeper
  • waiter
HomeTenant's Cottage

Sam Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale , played by James Hooton.



Sam arrived in Emmerdale village in February 1995, following his release from a young offenders institute. He got involved in several dodgy schemes with his family, one of which was taking part in an armed robbery with his uncle Albert in 1998. However, they were caught by the police and subsequently jailed. Sam was released from prison in 2000 and he returned to the village for his brother Butch's (Paul Loughran) funeral. During 2004, Sam served a prison sentence for accidentally running over pensioner Edna Birch (Shirley Stelfox). He was in prison alongside his distant relative, Solomon.

In 2005, Sam began a relationship with Alice Wilson (Ursula Holden-Gill) and they later left Emmerdale to start life on their own farm in Norfolk. They returned to Emmerdale soon afterwards, when Sam discovered Alice was pregnant. In early 2006, Alice gave birth to their son Samson via caesarean section so she could start cancer treatment. Sam's young sister, Belle Dingle (Eden Taylor-Draper), accidentally named the baby, she mistook "Sam's son" as his name, and Sam and Alice married on discovering her cancer was terminal. Eventually, she became so weak that she was unable to hold Samson so, at Alice's request, Sam got morphine from Eli Dingle (Joe Gilgun) and gave Alice an overdose, ending her life. The police got involved when Louise Appleton's (Emily Symons) police boyfriend, Martin, heard Ashley Thomas (John Middleton) tell Diane Sugden (Elizabeth Estensen) that he thought Sam had helped Alice die. He opened a murder investigation and when the police came to arrest Sam at Wishing Well Cottage, the Dingles barricaded themselves inside. After eventually gaining entry and arresting Sam, Del Dingle (Hayley Tamaddon) said she did it so she was arrested too. Soon, all the Dingles admitted killing her to protect Sam. Eventually the police picked holes in their stories but worried that Social Services would remove Samson if Sam confessed, Cain told Sam to describe Alice's death in as much detail as possible so the police would believe he was responsible.

In early 2008, Sam was arrested for possession after Eli persuaded him to be his courier so he and Samson could live in the village. Sam was afraid he'd lose Samson when the police charged him, and ran away with Samson, but soon turned himself in. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only incident that alarmed the Dingles and Social Services - while living at Dale View, Samson had escaped and been run over by Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick). She hadn't seen him because she had cataracts in both eyes and needed an operation. Shortly afterwards, Daz Eden's (Luke Tittensor) girlfriend, Penny, left vodka lying around and Samson drank it. Panicking, Sam rushed him to hospital but he was fine. Daz asked Penny to apologise to Sam but she refused, so Daz ended their relationship.

Sam worked at Butler's Farm, helping with Jo Stiles' (Roxanne Pallett) goats but Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher) sold them and, annoyed at Sam and Jo's friendship, fired him. Sam also got a job at Eric Pollard's (Chris Chittell) factory shortly before Eric planned to sell it to the Kings. Eric let his employees believe he was simply going out of business. When he told Sam he wished the factory would go up in smoke, Sam took him literally so he and Eli set fire to the factory. While Andy was away, Sam spent more and more time helping Jo out at the farm. For the first time since Alice, he was falling in love. Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox) tried to warn him off, but Sam ignored her, hoping he might have a chance. A few days later, Jo invited Sam for dinner, which he misconstrued as a date. She told him how much she liked him but was shocked when he went to kiss her. Gently, she told him that she didn't feel that way about him and tried to comfort him with a hug but Andy saw them. Sam left but Andy confronted them and beat them both up, putting Jo in hospital again with broken ribs. Lisa, his father Zak Dingle (Steve Halliwell), and uncle Shadrach Dingle (Andy Devine) saw his bruises and after treating his cuts, warned him to stay away from Jo and Andy. Zak also told Andy that while Sam was wrong to have approached Jo like that, Andy was wrong to have beaten him up. Andy was left in no doubt if he touched Sam again, he'd be fighting Zak. With Andy living in The Woolpack, the state of Jo and Andy's deteriorating marriage became common knowledge. He and Sam hadn't made up their differences but Sam warned Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) about what was happening at Butler's Farm. Debbie then kept a very close eye and proceeded to help Jo and Sarah.

Olena Petrovich, an illegal immigrant from the Ukraine, hid in the Dingle's barn until she was discovered by Belle and Will Wylde (Oscar James). She convinced the children not to give her away and they looked after her for a while until Sam found them. Upon hearing Olena's story, he agreed to keep her whereabouts secret and tended to her wounded leg. Eventually, he convinced Zak and Lisa to take her in and Olena moved in and helped out around the house. Sam persuades Eric to give her a job at the B&B. Although Pollard was apprehensive, he agreed and Sam began to fall in love with Olena. By January, Zak asks Eli to spy on Sam and Olena, in case she was a gold-digger. Eli reluctantly agreed, but decided that Olena was genuine and convinced Zak to let Sam make his own choices. Zak then gave Sam his blessing but as Sam's behaviour became more intense, it was obvious that she did not reciprocate and was feeling increasingly uncomfortable around him.

When Shadrach half-destroyed the Dingle house by letting the bath overflow, Olena was obliged to move in with Marlon and Eli. Sam missed Olena and kept visiting her at work, but Olena was distant. Then, as Lisa, Sam and Olena were driving to pick up some building materials, they were pulled over by the police. Olena panicked, thinking they were after her and so Lisa covered for them as Sam and Olena fled into the woods but the police saw them and to give Sam and Olena a chance to get away, Lisa punched an officer and was arrested. Meanwhile, Olena and Eli were becoming closer and, seeing them having a laugh together, Sam was jealous. Olena confided in Eli that she although she was grateful for Sam helping her, she did not see him as anything more than a friend. Olena reluctantly moved back in with the Dingles, but missed living with Eli and Sam began to snipe at his cousin, thinking he was taking Olena from him. Zak became increasingly irritated by Olena's presence so she moved back in with Eli and Marlon. Sam was devastated, so when Olena told him that she was upset because she missed her son, he decided to propose. Olena turned him down, but seeing his upset, she qualified it by saying that she did not have the right papers and would just be deported. Thinking this was all that was keeping them apart, Sam asked his brother Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) to obtain a dodgy passport for Olena and told Olena that he understood why she didn't want to marry him and that it would all be OK. Olena and Eli misread this, thinking he'd accepted that Olena did not return his feelings. Cain agreed to get the passport, but mentioned it to Zak, who told Cain to get it and then told Olena about the passport and said that, once it came through, she was to leave town, without a word to Sam or he would have her deported. Tearful, Olena went home and told Eli, who then confessed that he also loved Olena. She said she felt the same and they kissed and began to make plans to elope together once the passport arrived.

When Olena didn't attend Lisa's Welcome Home party, Sam went looking for her and saw her kissing Eli. He was devastated and reported her to Border Control, then watched as she was arrested and taken away. When a drunken Eli began accusing people of reporting Olena, Sam admitted that it was him. Eli was furious and threw a glass at his head and just missed. Sam broke down in tears, telling his father that he knew he was nothing but he'd thought, if he tried hard enough, Olena might take a chance on him. Zak comforted his son, but Sam felt guilty and decided to leave the village. Lisa persuaded him to stay, saying that he could not sleep rough with a toddler. However, Eli - angry at being blamed for Sam's actions - arrived and blasted Sam for ruining Olena's life, before revealing that Zak had already told Olena to leave, or he'd have her deported. Sam was livid with his father for interfering and refused to speak to him. He tried to apologize to Pollard for getting him a £7000 fine for hiring Olena but Pollard refused to forgive him. Sam was gutted and Zak convinced Pollard to forgive him and Pollard advised Sam to forgive his father. Sam tried to make amends to Olena by paying £200 into a bank account for her before finding Pollard unconscious at the B&B and phoning an ambulance. However, he didn't realize that Eli had robbed the B&B. Suspicions were raised over the missing money and Sam's earlier transaction and he was accused of stealing the money. Pollard tried to get Sam to tell him where the money really came from, but Sam was acting shiftily and lied. When Pollard uncovered his lies, he began to believe Sam might be the thief until Eli confessed and apologized to Sam before going on the run and Sam admitted that he'd got the money through poaching from his employer, Natasha Wylde (Amanda Donohoe). Sam later discovers Mark Wylde's body in the woods, after his dog digs him up and calls the police.

Sam has become very close to Rachel Breckle. They eventually began dating after the birth of her son, Archie. He supported her throughout her pregnancy and they moved in together but he and Samson moved out when Ali, Ruby, Sean and Amelia moved in after Megan Macey evicted them. He decided to move back in. However, Rachel was forced to leave by Sam's cousin, Charity, in early 2014, ending their relationship. Sam later begins a relationship with Tracey Shankley but reunites with Rachel when she returns. However, their reunion did not last long as the stress of Rachel's custody battle with Jai Sharma for Archie made her start hitting Sam. Eventually, after winning the custody battle, Rachel broke up with Sam, believing she was only worsening their gradual split with her abusing him, and she left for a new life in Liverpool with sister Ali.

Sam struggled to accept that Zak had an affair when it's revealed in December 2015 by Belle that Zak was having an affair with the lodger, Joanie Wright. The family excommunicated him, but Sam was the only family member who couldn't bring himself to cut Zak out of their lives. This whole conundrum was only worsened when it was revealed that Aaron had been sexually abused as a child, and Sam was under strict instruction by Cain not to tell Zak. However, Belle eventually told him the truth. Sam has recently begun talking to his dad again, despite Lisa beginning divorce proceedings.

In March 2016, when running to get help after Megan's water breaks, Sam was accidentally shot by Joanie in the wood. Sam was taken to the hospital.

Sets up a business called Scarborough Trader's in Scarborough.

Sam is attacked in the grounds of Wishing Well Cottage by serial killer Lachlan White, the lover of his sister Belle.


On his character profile on the ITV website, Sam is described as "a simple, sweet-natured man who can easily be taken advantage of". It is noted that he loves his family, and that he wants to "win their approval with his enthusiasm". He is billed as a "oyal, thoughtful, honest" character that "stands up for what is right". The profile states that he enjoys nature and working outside, and dislikes people thinking that he is "stupid". It adds that Sam has "one of the longest police records of anyone" on Emmerdale, despite his "innocent soul". [1]


In 2010, actor Hooton spoke to Holy Soap about portraying Sam. He explained that since Sam is so different to him in real life, he likes to "hide behind the character", and that he enjoys portraying a character that is different to how he "might be perceived in real life". He stated that due to his differences from Sam, he does not get noticed in public, unlike his co-stars. [2] In 2018, Hooton revealed that there were periods of time where he did not enjoy working on Emmerdale, and credited co-star Blick, who portrays his on-screen love interest Lydia, for making him enjoy it again. He commented: "It's been 23 years off and on I've been involved in the show, and obviously a lot of water goes under that bridge over that time. I've gone through many years when I've not enjoyed the job as much as I might have done, and it's been a bit of a renaissance period for me as I'm enjoying the job more so than I ever have done. And I think that's in part down to working with Karen and what she brings to the table." He confirmed that in those times, he considered leaving the soap, but decided against it since he had carved a career as Sam. [3] A year later, he reflected on 25 years of his character. He expanded on his unhappiness, revealing that a few years into his tenure on the soap, a "young and ambitious" Hooton met with the then-executive producer of Emmerdale to discuss his future on the soap. He felt "sidelined" on the soap, and asked the executive producer if there was a chance of Sam being more involved in storylines, to which the producer told him that he would never receive a big storyline. Reflecting on his time since then, he expressed his joy that his feelings about working on Emmerdale had improved. Hooton went on to explain that for "a long-standing actor in a soap", being killed off is always a worry, since they are only contracted on 12-month contracts, which are renewed annually. He added that if he was written out, he would be "gutted", stating: "it's definitely the best job for me". [4]

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam and Lydia star in a standalone "lockdown" episode in 2020. [5] Hooton stated that it is "not all fun and games", to reflect lockdown not being a fun process for others. He explained that there is "light-hearted jovial stuff" in the episode, as well as "motional and serious stuff". This is due to Sam's worries about Lydia having Huntington's disease, so he worries that the virus will have more of an effect on her than anyone else. He noted that the episode is "journey for both of them", and praised the writing. Hooton opined that his character deals with lockdown well, as he does the shopping and continues to work, but his "one overriding objective" is to protect Lydia from the virus, as he sees her as vulnerable. He notes that Lydia does not agree with Sam's protection of her. [6]

Related Research Articles

Zak Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Zak Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Steve Halliwell. He first appeared on 20 October 1994. Halliwell initially joined the show as part of the Dingle family and was only initially supposed to appear for a few episodes, but has become a key part of the soap since his introduction. He has been nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Zak. Some of Zak's storylines have included his wife Nellie divorcing him in 1997, marrying Lisa Clegg in 1998, having a daughter, Belle in 1998, the death of his son, Butch in 2000, Lisa being raped in 2011, assaulting his son Cain and leaving him temporarily paralysed in 2011, suffering a mental breakdown in 2012, trying to control his rebellious daughter and dealing with the death of Lisa.

Lisa Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Lisa Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Jane Cox. Lisa's storylines include being raped by her colleague Derek Benrose, becoming a parent in later life, assaulting a police officer, suffering an angina attack, dealing with her daughter's psychosis and discovering that her husband Zak has fallen in love with their lodger Joanie Wright, which led to their divorce after 18 years of marriage. On 7 May 2018, the character left the village and Emmerdale confirmed Cox was taking a sabbatical from the show. Lisa returned on 8 March 2019, and revealed that she had been diagnosed with amyloidosis. Cox then announced that she had quit her role, and that Lisa would be killed off. Lisa made her final on-screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 24 May 2019. Cox briefly returned for voiceovers on 6 June 2019 and for several more in October and November 2020.

Delilah "Del" Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Hayley Tamaddon. She made her first on-screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 15 July 2005.

Cain Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Cain Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Jeff Hordley. Cain made his first appearance on 30 March 2000, and in 2006, he was written out of the series when Hordley left the soap; however, the option for a return was confirmed, which occurred when Hordley returned to the cast in February 2009. Cain's main storylines have focused on discovering his "uncle" Zak Dingle is his father; his relationship with his cousin Charity Dingle ; discovering he is Debbie's father; his affair and subsequent relationship with Moira Barton ; being attacked in a whodunit storyline where his assailant was eventually revealed to be his father; being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm; supporting his nephew Aaron Livesy after discovering Aaron was sexually abused by his father Gordon Livesy as a child; reuniting with his and Chas's mother Faith Dingle ; his relationship with local vicar Harriet Finch ; building up a relationship with his children; and being blackmailed by DI Malone to do drug runs for him.

Debbie Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Debbie Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Charley Webb. Webb has taken maternity leave three times, with the first time being in 2010 before returning in 2011, and the second throughout 2016 with Debbie departing on 1 January 2016. She returned on 24 January 2017 and then went on maternity leave for a third time in 2019 as Debbie left for Scotland on 13 August 2019. She returned on 25 December 2020.

Shadrach Dingle

Shadrach Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale. Played by Andy Devine, the character first appeared on-screen during the episode airing on 30 March 2000. Since early 2010 the character appeared from time to time on an episodic basis after Devine felt he could not keep up with the busy schedule. The character, who had alcohol-induced liver disease, was killed off on 23 July 2010 after collapsing into a river and drowning whilst attempting to retrieve some beer cans. He was written out of the show due to the actor's retirement at age 68. Shadrach made an unannounced return in a flashback to Cain's childhood on 17 November 2017.

Alice Dingle

Alice Edith Rose Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Ursula Holden-Gill. She made her first on-screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 5 December 2004.

Eli Dingle

Eli Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Joe Gilgun. He first appeared on screen in the episode which aired on 13 July 2006 and made his last appearance on 30 April 2010. He is the younger brother of Marlon Dingle.

Belle Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Belle Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Eden Taylor-Draper. Belle made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 25 December 1998, and was originally played by twins Emily and James Mather, with the latter leaving the role in 2005. Belle has featured in various storylines throughout her time on the soap, such as falling down a mineshaft, killing her best friend Gemma Andrews, having an affair with doctor Jermaine Bailey, faking a pregnancy to prevent Jermaine from leaving after their affair is revealed, being diagnosed with schizophrenia, a relationship with Lachlan White which ends after discovering he is a serial killer and suffering mental health relapses.

Albert Dingle

Albert Ezekiel Dingle is a fictional character from the ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Bobby Knutt. He made his first appearance on 21 December 1995.

Daz Eden

Darren "Daz" Eden is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, portrayed by Luke Tittensor until April 2009. He made his first appearance in the show on 9 October 2003.

Lizzie Lakely

Lizzie Lakely was a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Kitty McGeever. Lizzie is Emmerdale's first blind character, and was played by a blind actress. She made her first on-screen appearance on 28 April 2009. Lizzie's last appearance was on 28 March 2013. McGeever had health problems, but, in June 2013, producer Kate Oates stated there had been plans for her to return. McGeever died in August 2015, however, without having returned to the series.


  1. "Sam Dingle". ITV . Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  2. Daniels, Colin (31 October 2010). "Hooton 'likes to hide behind character'". Digital Spy . Hearst Magazines UK . Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  3. Lee, Jess (24 July 2018). "Emmerdale star James Hooton says he used to be unhappy on the soap". Digital Spy . Hearst Magazines UK . Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  4. Davies, Megan (4 August 2019). "Emmerdale bosses told Sam Dingle star James Hooton he wouldn't get a big storyline". Digital Spy . Hearst Magazines UK . Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  5. Harp, Justin (2 June 2020). "Emmerdale's Sam and Lydia Dingle to clash in lockdown episodes". Digital Spy . Hearst Magazines UK . Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  6. Warner, Sam (2 June 2020). "Emmerdale star James Hooton explains Sam and Lydia's lockdown tensions". Digital Spy . Hearst Magazines UK . Retrieved 28 February 2021.