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Emmerdale’s Steve Halliwell dies

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Emmerdale’s Steve Halliwell dies

ITV has confirmed the performer has died at the age of 77.

The actor, who also appeared in other popular series such as Coronation Street (Granada TV), Brookside (Mersey TV), Heartbeat (YTV) and Crown Court (Granada TV) spent nearly 30-years as head of the Dingle family, Zak, in Emmerdale. The father of Benedict, Tina, Francis ‘Butch’, Cain, Belle and Sam Dingle.

ITV Yorkshire statement:

“It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that Emmerdale can confirm that Steve Halliwell, our beloved Zak Dingle, has peacefully passed away. All our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones through this very difficult time, and we’d request that their privacy is respected as they grieve for his loss. Steve will forever be synonymous with Emmerdale. The proud defender and head of the Dingle family. Heart and humour in all he did, it has been and always will be impossible not to smile when you think of him.”

Steve was born in Bury, Lancashire, in 1946 and prior to his acting career he had worked as an apprentice engineer as well as in cotton and paper mills before turning to performing arts with the Mountview Theatre School. He was a founding member of the Interchange Theatre in Bury. Halliwell was once arrested for sleeping rough in an empty government building in London. He was sent to a prison in Ashford for two weeks and was later released on probation. In 1988 he appeared in Channel 4’s Brookside as Stephen; a character not too different to his more famous Emmerdale role. Steve first appeared as Zak in 1994 as the show began to modernise and introduce new characters following the infamous ‘plane crash’ in December 1993.

In 2003, he took a short break from the ITV Yorkshire soap, filmed in Leeds, for personal reasons. Steve revealed later that he had during that absence been checked in to an alcohol rehabilitation centre. In September 2018 he also took time out from Emmerdale when he had heart surgery and a pacemaker fitted.

The character of Zak, while sometimes boarish and hot-headed and a bit of a rogue, became popular with viewers, along with the Dingle clan, which saw several Emmerdale spin-off specials with the family including Australian adventure the Dingles Down Under and – following a storyline in the soap – together with co-stars Billy Hartman and Alun Lewis the trio performed as country rock trio The Woolpackers and released the single Hillbilly Rock Hillbilly Roll in November 1996. Over the years Zak mellowed and even became accepted in the wider village community, along with the rest of the Dingle family.

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. Steve released an autobiography in 2014 called If The Cap Fits: My Rocky Road to Emmerdale.

Family Statement:

“He went to sleep, peacefully with his loved ones around him. He was making us laugh to the end, the most amazing father and grandfather you could ever wish for, family was everything to him. We would like to thank the wonderful staff at St James Hospital and the Wheatfield Hospice for their love and kindness in his final days. He didn’t want sadness, just to rejoice in a life well lived.”

Co-stars have paid tribute today with Lisa Riley, who plays Zak Dingle’s niece, Mandy, noting: ‘My dearest Steve, love you so much. You are now finally at peace. Thank you for years of laughter, you were still laughing right up to the end. Adored, loved, respected by us all, a legend in my eyes that’s for sure. We have stories and memories to last for many more years to come.’

John Whiston Managing Director of Continuing Drama & Head of ITV  in the North:

“Steve Halliwell was one of those rare human beings who was as wonderful off screen as on. To millions of Emmerdale viewers he was the brawny but crafty Dingle patriarch who led the clan with a strong fist and a warm heart. To everyone who worked on Emmerdale he was a much loved friend and colleague, the undoubted father of the show, but also its fun mischievous uncle. We will miss him enormously.”

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