Belfast Telegraph

Emmerdale stars fall under the spell of the ‘magical’ Mournes while filming in Co Down

Mark Charnock
Mark Charnock
Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock as Marlon with Dominic Brunt as Paddy Kirk filming in Newcastle, Co Down
Sandra Marvin and Laura Norton in Belfast

By David O'Dornan

If Northern Ireland tourism chiefs are looking for new ambassadors to promote the region across the water, they could ask Emmerdale actors Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock.

The soap stars fell in love with the "magical" Mournes in particular, during a filming stint which also included scenes shot in Belfast.

Cast and crew from the popular ITV soap last month came to Northern Ireland to film in the city as well as Newcastle, Co Down, with a press pack from national newspapers and magazines in tow.

And Mark - familiar to fans as lovable chef Marlon Dingle - gave them plenty to write home about with effusive praise for the scenic beauty and friendly welcome they enjoyed.

"This place is just magical," he said. "They film Game of Thrones up in the mountains here and it's Narnia in the CS Lewis books.

"We arrived here really early, just as the mist was falling off the mountain. I looked at it and it was hard to believe it was my place of work for the day."

The Strand cafe baked the cast and crew a special Emmerdale cake as well as providing a steady stream of cups of tea and other treats while filming took place on Newcastle's promenade. And Mark admitted they were humbled by the reception they received.

"They've been so lovely to us. There are some real Emmerdale superfans in Northern Ireland. When we finish filming, we're going to be proper tourists," he said. "We've talked about hiring a car and going to see the Giant's Causeway."

For Dominic, a permanent fixture in the soap opera for years as vet Paddy Kirk, the opportunity to shoot on location here was more of a homecoming due to family links.

The 48-year-old explained: "It is like a school trip, we've had such a good time. My dad and his family are from east Belfast, where we were filming, so I know all the local slang.

"After the famine, a lot of my family settled in Salford. My great-grandmother Minnie, who I met, lived there. She was from Cork and swore like mad.

"It's so nice to be doing some of the lighter stuff with Mark. We were sitting eating our breakfast and he said, 'I don't think I've been this happy at work for a long time'."

The storyline, which will air from next Wednesday, follows Marlon on honeymoon with new wife Jessie (Sandra Marvin).

The trip is gatecrashed by Paddy, who goes in search of his biological dad, and Kerry (Laura Norton) trying to find her daughter Amy.

Mark said: "They are there because Marlon remembered that Jessie's favourite film is Titanic and he takes her to the Titanic Museum in Belfast.

"We even did some filming in front of City Hall in Belfast, which felt very special.

"Jessie and Marlon love each other and want to have a good time, but they can't until the very end of their trip. Jessie has to police Kerry, while Marlon is left looking after Paddy. They even end up sharing a bed!"

And Dominic added that Paddy doesn't think twice about hijacking the honeymoon because he is desperate to find his real dad, a wrestler called Bear Wolf played by Joshua Richards.

He said: "He really doesn't care. He is just desperate to try and get to know his dad, a wrestler who is a bit past it.

"He keeps getting battered by much younger men for £25 a night.

"I used to like wrestlers myself when I was a boy, and Bear Wolf feels really authentic."

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