Emmerdale star Marc Silcock has taken centre stage in one of soapland’s most popular storylines in the past year after being cast as Aaron Livesy’s first boyfriend Jackson Walsh. Since his arrival on screen last March, fans have seen Jackson face the rocky road of a relationship with troubled Aaron – before a tragic twist saw the builder left paralysed when his van was hit by an oncoming train on a level crossing. Now in the running for the ‘Best Newcomer’ prize at this year’s National Television Awards, Marc recently chatted to Digital Spy about the recognition.
How does it feel to be in the running for ‘Best Newcomer’?
“It’s fantastic, really! For me it was just an acknowledgement that people are recognising the work that I’ve been doing and the effort that I’m putting in with the storyline that I’ve got and the situation my character is in. I can’t really come to work without doing my homework and I can’t not give it 100%, because I’m representing a community. It’s just fantastic to be recognised for the work that I’ve done.”
What would it mean to you to win the award?
“Of course it would be unbelievable to win and it would give me a lot of validation that people are liking the character, because it is a difficult story and it is a difficult time for Jackson. But just to be nominated is great because I know that there’s people out there who are recognising the work.”
As an actor, how important is it to win awards?
“I think they’re just an added bonus, but receiving an award is receiving the recognition of the people who are watching, and it’s the people who are watching who are important because they make up your viewing figures, they’re your audience percentage and you might be representing their lives on screen. So if the way of recognising the work and the way for the viewers to tell you that you’re doing a good job is through awards, then of course everybody enjoys receiving them! But my main focus is making sure that the work’s right and that the audience is connected with the character.”
You’re up against Ricky Norwood from EastEnders, Olga Fedori from Holby City and Paula Lane from Corrie. What do you think of the competition?
“I think they’re all very strong competition. Paula Lane has obviously come in with a strong storyline with Katherine Kelly, and Ricky Norwood has been in EastEnders for quite a while and he was in E20 as well. I think it’s going to be a close-run thing, but we’re all in the running because we’re all in the last four. It’s a 25% chance of winning – I hope that my 25% chance increases to 100% on the night, but we’ll just have to wait and see! It is a competition and I’m a competitive person – of course I want to win because I’d like the acknowledgement from the people out there voting that I’m doing a good job with the performance. But whoever wins will have obviously got the most votes and deserved it. We’ll have to wait and see on the night.”
Have you ever met Ricky, Olga or Paula before?
“No, I’ve never met any of them before! I was nominated in a ‘Best Newcomer’ category with Ricky Norwood a couple of months ago and I lost to him then, but due to work commitments I couldn’t come down to the event to meet everybody. So the night of the awards will be the first time I get to meet them.”
If you had to give your plea for why people should vote for you, what would you say?
“Basically, if people are enjoying the character, relating to the performance and recognising the hard work that comes with playing Jackson because of the situation that he’s in, then please vote. It would mean the world to me to have an award that recognises the work that I’ve been doing. But we’ll have to wait and see whether people like it that much!”
Are there any particular scenes you’d like people to bear in mind as they decide who to vote for?
“I think I’d have to say the scene before the train crash and also the full episode with me and Danny Miller where Aaron tells Jackson that he’s paralysed. If you’re still considering who to vote for, I’d say get on ITV Player or YouTube and watch those two episodes or even just those two scenes. It was hard work and difficult filming them, but at the end of the day, you look at them and they’re just absolutely beautiful scenes to watch.”
How would you sum up your time at Emmerdale since you joined last year?
“It’s been absolutely unbelievable! When I first came into the show, I just thought that I’d be here for two or three months, help Danny’s story along and then just disappear. I had no idea that they were planning this storyline for me – absolutely no inkling until Gav Blyth, our sadly departed producer, told me that he wanted to keep me and told me about the storyline. He asked me whether I wanted to do it or not and whether I felt I was capable of taking it on. It took me a split second to reply and I said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want – I’ll turn up early, I’ll turn up late – whatever you want’. I’ve absolutely loved the amount of hard work that I’ve had to do since I’ve been here, and I’ve loved being here as everybody’s fantastic. I’ve been given an absolutely fantastic storyline and if I never work again, this storyline is always going to be there and it’s a storyline that people are going to remember for a while. It’s absolutely brilliant to know that I’ve been a part of that.”
Are you looking forward to the NTA ceremony itself?
“Yeah, it’s the first awards ceremony that my girlfriend Amy has been able to come to, so I’m looking forward to taking her down to London and showing her the brighter side of working in a soap! If I win, it’ll be an even more fantastic night, but I’m just looking forward to getting down there, seeing some of the lads from Corrie and showing my girlfriend some of the sights. It should be good fun.”
Are you pleased to see Danny Miller up for the ‘Best Serial Drama Performance’ prize?
“Yeah, of course I am. Danny comes to work and he knows the ins and outs of everything – he knows what he should be doing, he has ideas and thoughts, and he puts in the graft just like everybody else. I think if he hadn’t been nominated then it would have been a bit of a farce, really. If you look at the standout performances of the year or the standout faces from soap, then Danny is definitely up there. I think it’s a job well done and it’d definitely be deserved if he won. I’m coming from a point of view where I can see how much work he puts in and how hard everyone works, because we all do. They couldn’t have not nominated Danny – he’s been so good this year.”
Do you think Emmerdale is in with a good chance for the ‘Best Serial Drama’ prize?
“I think this year could possibly be the best opportunity that we’ve ever had – some of the storylines have been fantastic with Rhona, Paddy and Marlon’s love triangle and the baby, Aaron’s coming out storyline, Jackson’s paralysis, the fire, the train crash! It’s just been fantastic storylines month after month, week after week. Looking at the episodes, they’ve not really been soap episodes – they’ve been drama episodes that are beautifully crafted and the actors have been fantastic. I think this has been the best year ever and it’s the best chance Emmerdale have had of winning something. It’s been an absolutely unbelievable year.”
There’s always a lot of speculation surrounding how long you’re staying at Emmerdale. Are you sticking around for the foreseeable future?
“All I know at the minute is that I’m here until the spring. So at the moment, that’s the way it stands. Whether the producers see fit to change that is completely up to them and I’m open to suggestions, but at the minute my contract finishes in spring this year.”
Where are things heading for Aaron and Jackson this year?
“I think they’re heading almost to a resolution, really. Jackson is getting a bit sick of Aaron hanging about and feeling guilty, and he really doesn’t want to burden Aaron anymore by having him in his life. He doesn’t want the fact that he’s paralysed and a tetraplegic to have any effect on a young man’s life, so Jackson starts to forcefully push Aaron away. It’s not subtly and it’s not sneakily – he does it to his face and tells Aaron that he should go, have another man, have a life and go out. So it leads to Aaron finding a new man in Flynn and that’s basically down to Jackson – he doesn’t want anything to do with Aaron anymore and tells him to go. He breaks the relationship up clearly and in no uncertain terms – it’s the end for those two together.”
Even though Jackson is the one pushing Aaron away, is it still difficult to see him with Flynn?
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a torturous time for Jackson. In a way, he feels a sense of relief because he’s no longer a burden on anybody and he’s not seeing the weight of his situation crush another person who he loves so much and has always loved throughout the whole relationship. But then, on the other hand, he’s seeing somebody else kissing the man that he loves and the man that he wants to be with, so it is a torturous time.”
Aaron and Jackson have become quite a much-loved couple among the Emmerdale fans. Is there any way they could sort things out in the future?
“I think that, with the amount of problems that have occurred so far in the relationship, it could be an impossibility. I’m fully aware of how much everybody likes the coupling of Aaron and Jackson and the response that we’ve had is unbelievable. Obviously everybody wants a fairytale ending, but with the situation that the characters find themselves in, I think it would be extremely difficult for anybody to believe a happy resolution between the two of them. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but I think it’s nigh on impossible that the two of them would ever hold hands and go off into the distance.”
How challenging has it been to portray a character who has such a severe disability?
“When I first found out about it, I thought it would be easy – I thought I could just lie back or just sit there perfectly still. But it’s been unbelievably difficult. The way I like to explain it to people is that I like to get them to nod – and obviously you move your shoulders, you move your head and I say to them, ‘No, you can’t do that!’ So it’s a case of nodding or yelling or crying without moving anything else, otherwise millions of people are going to see you do something wrong.
“There’s a friend of mine who I’ve started working with recently who’s a tetraplegic and he’s in the same situation as Jackson. His view on it is that it’s all seemed spot on and that I’ve been doing everything right, which is just unbelievable. I don’t want anyone to ever think that I’m just turning up to work and sitting there perfectly still. Every minute of every day when I’m on set filming, as soon as they say ‘action’, I’m constantly thinking and constantly trying to get things right. It was a lot easier to do it in my mind than it was in reality, but it’s absolutely fantastic to go home every day thinking that you’ve done a day’s work – it’s brilliant.”
Nobody expects a miraculous recovery for Jackson, but is there a chance of any small improvement in his condition?
“I think that the only improvement we’re going to see in Jackson’s life is the ability for him to get around more in wheelchairs, and also people getting more and more used to his disability. With Jackson’s injuries that we’re dealing with in the show, there’s no way that anyone could recover from the severity of them, so we don’t ever want to put an implausible storyline on screen because we don’t want anything to dent the track that we’ve been going down. So no, there won’t be any improvement in Jackson’s condition but there will be an improvement in the way that he lives his life and his ability to try and lead as normal a life as possible.”
Some fans have commented on the fact that the storyline is being shown through Aaron’s eyes and they’d like to see things from Jackson’s point of view more often – especially how he’s coping with his condition. Will we see that happen?
“Yeah, more of that is to come. Obviously with Aaron’s storyline running concurrently with Jackson’s, Jackson’s story did come in as a spring-off from Aaron’s. At the moment we are seeing it through Aaron’s eyes a lot and we will continue to do that for a while, but in the coming months, we do start to see how Jackson sees it. At the moment, I think we’re dealing with a lot of Aaron’s guilt and him struggling to deal with the fact that his boyfriend is in this situation, but with issues that occur now, we do start to see how it’s affecting Jackson and we do see the whole situation through Jackson’s eyes.
“I think that’s going to be quite a moment for people when they see it on screen and when they start to realise the situation that he’s in. We’ve been filming that recently and that does come to the forefront quite heavily – it does hit on a lot of issues which people aren’t aware of, but hopefully they’ll come across in the storyline.”
Would you like to see Jackson get a new love interest of his own?
“Well Jackson is still a person and he still wants to love somebody and have somebody love him back. But I just think, at the minute, we’re trying to play the situation so that it’s as real as possible and Jackson has got more important things to concentrate on. He’s got to try and get some form of life back, as everybody would do in this situation. I’d love to see him have a love interest or someone who he can call his boyfriend, but at the moment, I think his mind is just firmly set on other things.”
Finally, are there any main highlights from your time at Emmerdale that you’d like to mention?
“The past year has just been an absolute blur – it’s just been absolutely amazing from the time that I got the job until now. I’d say that the highlight was probably being told by Gav Blyth that I’d get this storyline – having somebody trust me that much was a bit of a shellshock, really. I never thought that anybody would give me that much control and trust me so much, so that was fantastic. Looking back on it now, the start of this storyline and being told about it has to be the best moment since I’ve been here – more than getting the job, more than having a laugh with everybody on set and more than the other amazing things that I’ve been doing! Being told that by Gav was just brilliant.”
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