Composite image of Zak Dingle; smiling, looking tough, and with wife Lisa (Credit: ITV/Composite: ED!)

Emmerdale: 8 of Zak Dingle’s best moments on the soap

The life and times of an Emmerdale legend

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Since his introduction to Emmerdale in 1994, Zak Dingle quickly became established as one of the soap’s most iconic characters. Originally introduced as a bare-knuckle fighting hardman, Zak evolved into a loving family man, conflicted lothario and beloved community figure… struggling with his mental health and a series of tragedies.

Following the sad death of star Steve Halliwell today (Friday, December 15), Entertainment Daily takes a look back at Zak’s life in the Dales, from his introduction to more recent storylines.

Join us as we look back at some of Zak Dingle’s most memorable moments over the past forty years. Did yours make the cut?

Zak Dingle: His best bits on Emmerdale

Zak and the Dingle family on Emmerdale
The Dingles weren’t always so cuddly (Credit: ITV)

1. Zak Dingle takes on The Destroyer in Emmerdale debut

He may have mellowed in his old age, but Zak was introduced to the soap as a formidable fighter and bare-knuckle boxer.

Nowhere was his toughness more evident in his match with ‘The Destroyer’… which Zak would have won, if he hadn’t been distracted by mouthy Eric Pollard, who got him knocked out.

Zak was only originally scheduled for two appearances on the soap, but audiences responded so well to the character that he and his family soon joined on a permanent basis.

Emmerdale would never be the same again!

The Dingle family pose for a picture - Zak, Lisa, Sam and Cain
Lisa completed the Dingle family (Credit: ITV)

2. Meeting Lisa

Although lothario Zak wasn’t short of lovers – or wives – he will always be synonymous for Emmerdale fans with his beloved Lisa.

Zak met Lisa Clegg in 1997, before marrying a year later. Although their marriage was far from smooth sailing, Zak and Lisa always eventually returned to each other.

Zak and Lisa with baby Belle on Emmerdale
Little Belle was born in 1998 (Credit: ITV)

3. The birth of Belle

Lisa fell pregnant soon after she and Zak married – and Belle Dingle was born on Christmas Day, 1998. This came as a complete surprise to the family – not least Lisa, who had no idea that she was even pregnant!

Young Zak and Cain face off on Emmerdale while Lisa watches (Credit: ITV/YouTube)
Cain learned that ‘uncle’ Zak was actually his father (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

4. Revealing the truth to Cain

The relationship between Zak and Cain hasn’t always been so rosy. The result of an affair between Zak and his brother’s wife, Faith, ‘nephew’ Cain didn’t even find out that he was Zak’s son until 1999.

The truth came out during a heated argument between the pair, as Zak revealed that he was Cain’s father. However, it would take a while before either could learn to love and accept the other…

Who killed Cain? The line-up of potential candidates
Cain was attacked and left for dead… and Zak did it (Credit: ITV)

5. Who ‘killed’ Cain?

Although the pair formed a bond, Zak struggled with Cain’s violent behaviour and treatment of other people. Hoping to teach his son a lesson, Zak attacked Cain – leaving him for dead, with no idea who had attacked him.

Zak eventually revealed the truth to a shocked Cain and, after a long while, the pair managed to settle their differences amicably.

Cain holds Zak in the moors on Emmerdale
Zak struggled profoundly with his mental health (Credit: ITV)

6. Struggling with a nervous breakdown

His trying to kill Cain had a profound affect on Zak, who struggled with depression and feeling like a failure afterwards. After sinking into bouts of isolation – and the bottle – Zak battled visions of dead son Butch, wandering the moors where he was later found by Cain.

The storyline was praised by fans, who responded well to seeing another side to the otherwise tough Dingle family patriarch – and its portrayal of male mental health issues.

Zak and Lisa getting married
Zak and Lisa married in (year) (Credit: ITV)

7. Zak and Lisa tie the knot

After a series of rough patches, Zak and Lisa reconciled in 2018. The pair left the country briefly while Lisa took on a job offer in Scotland, before returning in 2019.

After learning that Lisa had been diagnosed with a fatal heart condition, the pair decided to marry again. This they did on 23rd May 2019, surrounded by their loving family. However, their happiness would be short-lived…

Zak and Lisa hold hands on Emmerdale
Lisa died in 2019 (Credit: ITV)

8. The death of Lisa

Following the wedding, Lisa returned to the Dingle family homestead to change out of her wedding dress. It was there that Zak found her, apparently asleep on the sofa. However, when Zak tried to wake up his new bride, he realised that she had passed quietly away. A sad, if poignant end, to one of Emmerdale’s most iconic couples.

Read more: Complete Emmerdale cast list 2023 – meet them all here!

Emmerdale - Zak Proposes to Lisa

Emmerdale usually airs on weekdays at 7.30pm, with an hour long episode on Thursdays.

For all the latest soap spoilers, news and chat come and join us at Soap Daily now!

Joel Harley
Freelance Writer