So there we have it. Alone in his van, reaching for his mobile – a night out for Jackson Walsh ended in disaster. After a special screening of the dramatic episode, Digital Spy sat down for a quick chat with Emmerdale‘s Marc Silcock to find out his reaction to the plot and what fans can expect in the months ahead. Despite Marc having recently extended his contract with the soap, things are not getting any easier for Jackson and Aaron…
How did you feel when you heard about the crash?
“[I was] ecstatic, really. It wasn’t to me a storyline in itself, more of a switch that starts a new storyline, a new chapter in their relationship and kick-starts Jackson’s own storyline in a way. It was a big thumbs-up from everybody upstairs – all the bosses and the producer Gavin Blyth saying, ‘We’ve enjoyed you for the past six months and let’s see what you can do’. It’s brilliant!”
It’s been mentioned that the storyline will continue well into next year, will you be sticking around?
“At the moment, I know I’m there until early next year. I’m there for the first couple of months of 2011 which will be great as it will see me through a year. What happens after that is completely up to the bosses but all I know is that.”
Is it true that we are going to be meeting Jackson’s father soon?
“Yes! Michael J. Jackson comes in and plays my father Jerry. This is a big key to understanding why Jackson is like he is, why he is so understanding of Aaron and why the relationship is as it is. We understand that a lot seeing his father and seeing the interaction between Pauline Quirke (Hazel) and Michael. We will understand a lot of Jackson’s background.”
So is it a strained relationship Jackson has with Jerry?
“Very strained! Jerry was not very open to Jackson’s sexuality so it is very strained and we’ll see the outcome of that in future episodes. What the two characters went through together, and I think the crash and what Jackson has to go through, is a huge strain on Jerry – but that just makes him hold on tighter to Jackson, rather than let him go.”
Will Jackson blame Aaron for what has happened?
“I think for a long time Jackson is just glad to be awake. I think there’s an empty blame there, a hope that if he was to blame somebody else it would take a little bit of the pain away from him and the situation. However, I think he quickly comes to terms with the fact that what’s happened has happened and that he has to focus on where he wants to be and what he wants to do. Blaming everybody and anybody doesn’t take any of the blame away. Jackson answered the phone, Jackson was driving the van – nobody else. There’s a lot to come to terms with and a lot of strain and strife to get through the fact that there is nobody else to blame. It’s on him. This is his life and this is what he has to go through.”
How would Aaron cope if Jackson was to die?
“I don’t know, really. Aaron is his own character and would have reacted in a number of different ways. I think, with his relationship with Jackson, it would either have gone one way or another. It would have been a case of, my personal opinion on the character of Aaron, I think he would have allowed him to blame himself and his sexuality. With the self-loathing storyline, the way it’s gone, I think it would have given Aaron a chance to self-implode again. To be honest, I don’t know the way Aaron would have reacted but I think there would be a huge difference in Aaron if Jackson were to die in the crash.”
What has the fan reaction been like for yourself and the character of Jackson?
“It’s been fantastic! When I first came into Emmerdale I was part of the storyline and now I’ve become entwined with the storyline. It’s brilliant. People don’t see it anymore as a gay relationship, just as a relationship – which is brilliant and what we wanted to get to. The whole storyline is about being comfortable with yourself and when fans become comfortable with the relationship and not seeing it as two men together, it makes you realise that it’s worked.”
Have you had any negative feedback about the plot?
“99.9% of the fans [that] come up to you, from teenagers to 70-year-olds, don’t mention the fact that it’s a gay relationship. They just go, ‘You and Aaron’, or, ‘Aaron and Jackson’, or, ‘You two are great together’, and it makes you realise that what you are doing is now not a gay relationship – it’s about the emotions after and trying to portray what a real relationship is like. Obviously you get the 0.1% people that aren’t appreciative, but everyone is entitled to their opinions. Everybody is entitled to express what they want to express in their own way. Although, that is drowned out vastly by the positive reaction and feedback that we get. The response from the audience and the response from the producers; well, we wouldn’t be getting these storylines and we wouldn’t be getting the response from everybody [otherwise]. Danny [Miller] wouldn’t be winning awards if these people didn’t like it.”
Absolutely – and he now has two Inside Soap Awards to his name…
“His performances have been unbelievable! Those awards are the realisation that it is time for Danny to get some recognition for what he has been doing. It took a while, and it was unbelievable that it took that long, but it’s been fantastic to finally see him win the awards that he should have won a long time ago. Now, being in the storyline, it’s not as easy as everyone thinks it looks. Danny’s obviously worked extremely hard for it and it only helps everybody else get their game up a little bit. When you look at it and you’re facing that and the cameras are watching you, and Danny’s doing what he is doing – what he is being awarded for – it just makes you want to fight a little bit harder and box at your weight. It just lifts the whole cast and the storyline. That’s why the storyline is so popular, because people believe in the characters and the performances.”
How does Hazel deal with events?
“Hazel’s character is bright and chirpy and always looking on the bright side of life. For the very first time, we see that crust crack a little bit. This isn’t something that can be laughed off. This isn’t something that a cup of hot chocolate is going to make better. She’s going to really struggle now, not only with the arrival of her estranged husband and how that affects Jackson and their relationship, but she’s now got to worry about Jackson. Not about Jackson and Aaron and how they are doing or how she’s doing – she’s got to focus on Jackson now and it’s a heavy weight for Pauline to go through. You have to believe that you are losing a son or that your son is going through this and I know Pauline has a son and she’s been fantastic. Some of the stuff that I’ve been in the room for that she has been doing has been unbelievable. All the stuff after Jackson wakes up with himself and Aaron, himself and Jerry and Pauline – it’s just been unbelievable to be a part of. It’s been brilliant.”
How do you feel when you’re called a role model?
“It’s a bit strange! I personally don’t see myself as a role model but I do see the relationship as one. And I see the way that Aaron has come to terms with his relationship to everybody else as a role model for how it should be. Obviously that is not real life – people react in different ways and people have different families and different opinions but I don’t consider myself as much of a role model as I do the relationship that’s now been formed.”
As a couple, Aaron and Jackson have a strong fanbase which has many hopes for their future. Where do you see the relationship going?
“I think when the storyline [was] set out there was always going to be an end for it. There was never going to be a fairytale ending because the two characters are polar opposites. Although there is an attraction, it’s very difficult for two people like that to come together and mesh. I’m ecstatic that the fans are worried about the characters. Again it shows a great relationship between the characters on screen and the fans off it. I think it’s very difficult in the situation that the characters are finding themselves in to pluck at that silver lining. It would be very difficult for any relationship to survive the struggles that everybody is going to go through over the coming months.”