Zak Dingle

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Zak Dingle
Zak Dingle.png
Emmerdale character
Portrayed by Steve Halliwell
First appearanceEpisode 1914
20 October 1994 (1994-10-20)
Introduced byMervyn Watson
  • Emmerdale: The Dingles Down Under (1997)
  • The Dingles in Venice (1999)
  • The Dingles for Richer for Poorer (2010)
Classification Present; regular
Pig farmer
HomeWishing Well Cottage

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 (Sandra Gough) divorcing him in 1997, marrying Lisa Clegg (Jane Cox) in 1998, having a daughter, Belle (Emily Mather; Eden Taylor-Draper) in 1998, the death of his son, Butch (Paul Loughran) in 2000, Lisa being raped in 2011, assaulting his son Cain (Jeff Hordley) 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.



Zak arrives in the village in October 1994 and immediately challenges old bare-knuckle boxing adversary Ned Glover (Johnny Leeze) to a bare-knuckle fight, which he goes on to lose. Zak's family start a feud with the McAllister family over the death of his son, Ben (Steve Fury), following a fight with Luke McAllister (Noah Huntley) two months earlier. Despite discovering that Ben had a heart defect, the Dingles still blame Luke and force the family, except Luke, to leave the village. He is enraged to discover his daughter, Tina (Jacqueline Pirie) is in a relationship with Luke and attacks him until Tina tells him she is expecting Luke's baby. The truth is revealed when Tina humiliates Luke at the altar and tells him that there is no baby, in revenge for Ben's death. After Luke is killed in a car crash in August 1995, the Dingles and McAllisters put the feud aside. Zak's wife, Nellie (Sandra Gough) attends to her sick father, Jimmy in Ireland but does not return.

Lisa Clegg (Jane Cox) enters Zak's life and they begin a relationship, and despite a few hiccups, they eventually marry. Lisa gives birth to a daughter, Belle (Emily Mather) at Christmas 1998, which is a shock as she did not know she was pregnant. Zak's and Lisa's happiness is tested when Nellie (now Maggie Tagney) returns and tries to win Zak back but is unsuccessful. When a bus crashes in the village, Butch is injured and his condition rapidly deteriorates and he dies, leaving Zak devastated at the second death of one of his sons. Fresh trauma comes when Zak learns Lisa worked on the bus's engine before it was roadworthy, leading to Zak blaming her for his son's death for a while but he eventually relents. Zak reveals to Cain (Jeff Hordley) that he is his real father as the result of an affair with Cain's mother, Faith (Gillian Jephcott; Sally Dexter). After some violent words, the two men accept the situation and a bond develops between them.

In 2001, Zak discovers he has testicular cancer, confiding in long-time friend Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards), although Seth originally gets the wrong idea. Zak decides to not get treatment but Seth, his son Sam (James Hooton) and nephew Marlon (Mark Charnock) kidnap him and force him to come to his senses, he goes to hospital. As soon as he recovers, domestic harmony is shattered when his elderly mother, Peg (Jeanne Hepple), comes to stay. Zak blames Peg for the death of his father, Jed (Richard Mayes), believing she murdered him but when she reveals that Jed deserted them, they declare a truce. Zak later finds a dying Jed, who tells him of a fortune in Chile. Zak leaves to find the fortune, much to the shock of his family and in his absence, Lisa becomes close to Eddie Hope but realizes she still loves Zak and they reconcile on his return. Zak attacks Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher) when he learns he is having an affair with his granddaughter Debbie (Charley Webb). When Debbie gives birth to a daughter, Sarah, Zak and Lisa help Debbie but she gives Sarah to Emily Kirk (Kate McGregor) as she is not ready to be a mother. Zak's youngest son, Sam (James Hooton), returns with his fiance, Alice Wilson (Ursula Holden-Gill) and they are expecting a child. Sam and Alice marry but Alice develops cancer and dies shortly after their son, Samson (Bradley Milnes) is born. Zak and the family rally round to help Sam.

Zak strikes up a friendship with Rosemary King (Linda Thorson). He takes her at face value, despite her being devious and manipulative. They get on and she asks him to keep a discreet eye on her son, Grayson Sinclair (Christopher Villiers), and let her know what he is doing. She hires him as gamekeeper at Home Farm and confided family secrets, knowing she could trust him. Rosemary bonds with Belle and pays for her to attend private school but Zak cuts this associate short when he learns Rosemary has been poisoning her daughter-in-law Perdita Hyde-Sinclair (Georgia Slowe).

When Cain is viciously attacked in December 2011, Zak is very uncomfortable to the extent he refuses to visit him hospital. He later reveals himself to Cain as his attacker when he discovers Cain is trying to get Jai Sharma (Chris Bisson) falsely imprisoned for the crime. Zak also confesses to Lisa and prepares hand himself in, but Cain keeps his father's involvement in the attack secret, and retracts his statement against Jai. Zak's guilt weighs heavily on him and disappears for long periods of time and begins drinking heavily. He takes Samson (now Sam Hall) poaching one day and accidentally leaves his phone in the van. Lisa and Sam are frantic with worry. Zak and Samson are later found by Megan Macey (Gaynor Faye), who calls Sam and he arrives to collect Samson and warns Zak to stay away from him. A few weeks later, a scan reveals some abnormalities in Zak's body, he is referred to a consultant to have some more scans. At the appointment with the radiologist, the doctor warns Zak that in the abnormalities could be pancreatic cancer, but also could be a simple curable form of the flu. However, an appointment later reveals that Zak does not have pancreatic cancer.

Zak begins to act erratically and becomes paranoid, he is told by a vet that his chickens are healthy but in his paranoia and belief that there is something wrong, he kills them. He later starts believing he has cancer again and talks to a doctor about it, the doctor tells him he does not have cancer but Zak refuses to believe it and tells his family that he has cancer. It later becomes apparent that Zak has suffered a nervous breakdown and is later sectioned.

On Christmas Day 2015, Belle reveals to Lisa that she'd seen Zak having an affair with their lodger Joanie Wright (Denise Black). Lisa is heartbroken by the news, and her and Zak separate. This separation effectively severs Zak's ties to the rest of the family, who convene at Wishing Well Cottage and decide to "excommunicate" Zak from the Dingles. Zak and Joanie then move in with the biological grandmother of Joanie's adoptive grandson Kyle, Kerry.

Early in 2016, Zak tries to regain the attention of his estranged family, especially after they all begin to act rather out of character. Zak becomes determined to know what's going on, and he pesters Sam and Belle in the village shop to tell him the secret they're supposedly hiding. The two initially try to keep it together, but, pushed to her limit, Belle blurts out that Zak's great-nephew Aaron Livesy (Danny Miller) was raped as a child by his father Gordon. Much like the rest of the family, Zak is devastated by the news, and Joanie begins to question his loyalties.

After Joanie accepts Zak's proposal of marriage, they quickly plan their wedding and during the stag do put together at The Woolpack, Zak drinks too much and mistakenly calls Joanie 'Lisa' which causes her to panic and get cold feet. On the day of the wedding Zak is upset after thinking that Joanie has jilted him, however she arrives at the church late and they are eventually married.

Despite his commitment to Joanie, Zak still remains close to Lisa causing Joanie and him to argue constantly. On Christmas Day, Joanie splits up with Zak due to his unresolved feelings for Lisa and he tried to reconcile with Lisa, who rejects him. When Joanie dies suddenly after being released from prison, Lisa comforts Zak in his grief and she accepts him.

Lisa and Zak then get back together and in early 2018 Lisa, Zak and the Dingles protest to save their house from being torn down by Joe Tate. In May 2018 Lisa and Zak's relationship take a turn and Lisa tells Zak she has got a job offer in Scotland and has been called up to work there for a few months. In September it's revealed that Lisa is now travelling overseas and Zak offers to go with her so he leaves.

In early 2019, it's revealed that Lisa has a deathly heart condition and hasn't got long left to live. Lisa then tells Charity that Zak can barely cope with the news and that she doesn't want Charity to tell anybody yet. Zak asked Lisa to marry him and after only two days of planning they married on 23 May 2019 in the church. Before the wedding, the Dingle's pigs escaped from their pen and were rounded up by Cain, Belle and Lisa in their wedding outfits causing Lisa's dress to become covered in mud. After the wedding, celebrations were held in the pub and Lisa went home to get changed as she did not want her wedding photos to be of her covered in mud. Zak went to find her and found her asleep on the sofa but when he tried to wake her up he realized that she had died.


He arrived with the rest of the Dingle family and along with the family was to "run riot through the rural tranquillity and put the muck back into the mix". The family where originally supposed to be "nothing more than a bit of spot of bother over a couple of episodes" but later were kept. [1] In 2003 it was announced Halliwell was to take a break. This led him to comment that he had "no axe to grind" and it wasn't "about salary or storylines" and added "I love Zak, I love Emmerdale, but I've asked for a spell out to spend some quality time with my family and friends". [2] In 2010, Halliwell said that his casting in Emmerdale was "the greatest break in my professional life". [3] In September 2018 Halliwell had to take five months off from Emmerdale for health reasons, which he later revealed was due to having heart surgery. [4] Halliwell returned to play Zak on 13 May 2019. Halliwell then left again in October 2019 with a storyline where he leaves to help Debbie in Scotland. Due to return sometime in 2020, Halliwell’s return to filming was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Zak made his first reappearance alongside relative Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) in the episode first broadcast in the United Kingdom on 18 January 2021.


ITV describe him as the "patriarch" of the Dingle family, adding he is "ostensibly a scrap dealer and pig farmer" although he spends "most of his time either doing nothing at all, or dreaming up scams and schemes". They also labelled him as occasionally being "a violent man" who is "prone to jealousy, however, he will do anything for a quiet life and a pint in the Woolpack!" [5] Halliwell said that Zak was "brought in as a violent nutter, then after they introduced the rest of the family, this workshy, loveable rogue started to emerge, and they started writing more comic elements for the Dingles". [3] Halliwell described the family saying they are "petty thieves" and "a bit part of the under class of life" who "still hold those old values that people are more important than money". He added that "[The Dingles] do strike a chord with a lot of people. Most of us will never be rich, so they can identify with the Dingles much easier than rich characters". [6] What's on TV described him as a "General dodgy dealer" who is an "all round wrong 'un" and the "keeper of the 'Dingle code' – which basically means that he makes sure all Dingles live on the wrong side of the law". [7] Holy Soap described him as "head of the Dingle clan, Zak is the scallywag you can't help but have a soft spot for" before adding that he "has had several odd jobs over the years, but he tends to fill his coffers by masterminding several dodgy deals with his brother, Shadrach (Andy Devine)." [8]


At the British Soap Awards in 2002, Halliwell was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of the part, and Zak was nominated for Hero for his testicular cancer storyline. [9] In 2007 he was again nominated for Best Actor. [10] In a poll to find the "top soap bloke" of all time which was run by Loaded , Zak came fourth. [11] The character was selected as one of the "top 100 British soap characters" by industry experts for a poll to be run by What's on TV, with readers able to vote for their favourite character to discover "Who is Soap's greatest Legend?" [12] Fellow Emmerdale cast member James Hooton commented that said Steve Halliwell often gets recognised for his alter ego saying "Steve can't tie his shoelaces in the street without people noticing. It's the beard". [13] A writer from Holy Soap named Zak's most memorable moment as being his introduction into the series; challenging Bernard McAllister to a bare knuckle fight. [8]

Related Research Articles

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.

Sam Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

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

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.

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.

Charity Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Charity Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Emma Atkins. Suranne Jones originally auditioned for the role of Charity, before Atkins was cast. The actress began filming her first scenes in February 2000, and she made her first screen appearance as Charity during the episode broadcast on 30 March 2000. Actress Mica Proctor played a young Charity in a flashback episode about the character's past, which aired on 29 May 2018.

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.

Mandy Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Mandy Dingle is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Lisa Riley. She made her first appearance during the episode broadcast on 20 July 1995 and departed on 28 September 2000. She returned briefly on 16 November 2001 and departed on 26 November 2001. Riley agreed to reprise the role in late 2018 for a brief stint, and made her on-screen return on 4 January 2019, however she departed once again on 8 January. On 10 July 2019, it was announced that Riley would be returning once again on a permanent basis, and Mandy reappeared from 12 September 2019.

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.

Moira Barton Fictional character from Emmerdale

Moira Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Natalie J. Robb. The actress successfully auditioned for the role after a call came through her agent. Robb's character and her family were created and introduced to Emmerdale as part of an overhaul of the show by the series producer Gavin Blyth. The Barton family took over the running of Butler's Farm and they were described as being "sexy, modern and contemporary". Robb first appeared as Moira during the episode broadcast on 17 July 2009.

Jai Sharma Fictional character from Emmerdale

Jai Sharma is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Chris Bisson. He made his first on-screen appearance on 11 September 2009, alongside his brother Nikhil. In 2013, Bisson temporarily departed Emmerdale on 24 January because of the birth of his child and returned at the end of March that year.

Amy Wyatt Fictional character from Emmerdale

Amy Wyatt is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Natalie Ann Jamieson. She debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 8 October 2010, played by Chelsea Halfpenny. Since her inception Amy has been central to main storylines and has been played as the serial's rebellious teenager. Halfpenny has said she enjoys playing the character's mischievous side. Amy's unstable upbringing in children's homes and foster care has impacted on her persona. She is a troubled character and protects herself by creating a hard exterior. Amy's biggest fear is embarrassment and she aspires to lead a normal family life with her foster parents Val Pollard and Eric Pollard. As her storylines have developed she has grown close to the pair, yet rebelled at various stages. Charlie Hardwick and Chris Chittell who play Val and Eric have expressed their delight with the positive impact Amy has had on their on-screen family. She has a kooky style and wears heavy make-up.


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