Zak Dingle's biggest Emmerdale storylines over the years

Actor Steve Halliwell has died aged 77

Steve Halliwell as Zak Dingle in Emmerdale, 2017 (ITV/Shutterstock)
The late Steve Halliwell as Zak Dingle in Emmerdale. (ITV/Shutterstock)

To celebrate the life of the late, great Emmerdale legend Steve Halliwell, who has passed away aged 77, let's take a look at his four biggest storylines as patriarch farmer Zak Dingle.

Announcing his death, the soap star's family shared in a statement: "He was making us laugh to the end, the most amazing father and grandfather you could ever wish for."

No cause has been confirmed at the time of writing.

Testicular cancer diagnosis

Seven years after entering the village in a bizarre bare-knuckle boxing plot involving his enemy Ned Glover, Zak was told by doctors that he had testicular cancer in 2001.

Having given his longtime pal Seth Armstrong the wrong idea initially, he finally came forward with the worrying news. However, when Zak admitted to not wanting any treatment, Seth, his son Sam and nephew Marlon took it upon themselves to kidnap him in order to bring their flatcap-wearing relative to his senses.

He recovered well after being committed to hospital.

Cain Dingle attack

Christmastime 2011 really shook up the Dingle clan, with Zak at the centre of a violent outburst on his son Cain — apparently wanting to teach him a lesson over treating people terribly.

With Cain hospitalised, Zak seemed extremely uncomfortable around his nearest and dearest, so much so that he refused to even visit Cain's bedside.

Editorial use only
From ITV Studios

Sunday 16th October 2022 on ITV

Archive picture shows: Thursday 24th October 1996
Publicity shots of The Dingles from the episode in which they take part in the protests against Frank Tate's road redevelopment - With Zak Dingle, as played by Steve Halliwell ; Marlon Dingle, as played by Mark Charnock ; Mandy Dingle, as played Lisa Riley ; Butch Dingle, as played by Paul Loughran

This one-off special documentary celebrating 50 years of Emmerdale tells the story of how a sleepy daytime afternoon series about rural folk became the award-winning, ratings-busting, peak-time drama that it is today.  

A mixture of compelling classic Emmerdale clips and rarely seen gems will be mined from the archive for viewers to relish. From family feuds, fires and fights to more light hearted moments from life on the farm and in the village that goes by the name of - Emmerdale.

They will feature alongside contributions from much-loved cast members, as the stars of Emmerdale past and present watch back their famous storylines to share reflections on their characters and memories from across the years.

With a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes secrets and anecdotes, the acclaimed cast will remember key moments from the last five decades.

This milestone celebratory tribute will also recall some of the standout 74 weddings, 43 births and 105 deaths in the show since 1972, whilst reminiscing over some of the show’s most popular family dynasties including The Sugdens, The Tates and The Dingles. 

Along the way, we’ll discover the original ambitions of Emmerdale Farm’s creator - the playwright Kevin Laffan, how the TV critics and viewers responded to the show and its early depiction of rural life, and ultimately how it has transformed to reflect the changing lives and appetites of its loyal audience.


For further information please contact Peter Gray
Mob 07831460662 /

This photograph is (C) ITV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme EMMERDALE: 50 UNFORGETTABLE YEARS  or ITV. Once made available by the ITV Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the Transmission date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website
On set with co-stars Mark Charnock, Lisa Riley and Paul Loughran. (ITV)

The guilty father was eventually forced into coming clean after Cain plotted to blame Jai Sharma for the crime. Despite the pair's relationship not being affected by this shocking twist, Zak's shame weighed so heavily that he disappeared for a while.


Following the Cain drama, a booze-reliant Zak took his grandson Samson poaching and accidentally left his phone in the van. His wife Lisa and son Sam were understandably concerned when they couldn't reach them, but fortunately, Megan Macey stumbled upon them.

Having been warned by Sam to stay away from his son, a few weeks later, a scan revealed several abnormalities in Zak's body, with fears pointing towards pancreatic cancer.

Such was the stress he went through, Zak sunk into a deep paranoia. His chickens were declared healthy by a vet, but in the throes of mental illness, Zak killed them.

His problems descended further, convincing himself and the Dingles that he had pancreatic cancer, despite the doctors' confirmation that this was not the case. It later became apparent that Zak had suffered a nervous breakdown and was eventually sectioned.

Divorces and marriages

Having begun his 29-year Emmerdale tenure married to Nellie, Zak was devastatingly cast adrift when she left the village to look after her ailing dad Jimmy and never returned.

Lisa Clegg then appeared in his life and soon enough they became an item. In 1998, the married couple welcomed their first child together Belle, who arrived out of the blue as Lisa wasn't even aware of her pregnancy.

Zak and Lisa's union was unsuccessfully challenged, though, when Nellie later came back for her ex-husband.

Skip to 2015 and his daughter Belle caught Zak cheating on Lisa with their lodger Joanie Wright, but in the end, after Joanie's untimely death, the pair reunited.

Read more: Emmerdale

Watch: Zak Dingle's last Emmerdale appearance as actor Steve Halliwell dies aged 77