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Emmerdale Cain Dingle star Jeff Hordley’s life – death fears and co-star wife

Jeff Hordley is well known for playing Cain Dingle in the beloved soap Emmerdale and has even been nominated for the British Soap Award for Best Actor three times for his portrayal of the local bad boy.

The long standing village resident has been on the ITV show since he was cast in 2000 and left in 2006, but the producers left his storyline open for a potential return.

He reappeared in the series in 2009 and reprised his role as the resident mechanic and farmer.

The Lancashire lad was diagnosed with Crohns in 1996 but despite his illness Jeff has played his iconic character for more than two decades.

The actor had suffered with stomach cramps and diarrhoea for almost six years until he was diagnosed with the condition that had killed his mother in 1979.

He recalled: "When I was just nine, my mum had died from the very same illness. My reaction was, ‘Am I going to die too?’"

Fortunately, doctors reassured young Jeff that the tragedy was caused by complications and, thankfully due to medical advancements, he was going to be treated.

His surgery went ahead and the diseased bowel was removed and he was put on medication, but seven years later in 2002 he collapsed whilst at a theatre due to haemorrhaging blood.

After this incident, Jeff vowed to stop smoking and cut down on alcohol in an attempt to prevent something like that happening again.

He owes the management of his symptoms to his fresh, natural diet.

Jeff and his wife, fellow Emmerdale star Zoe Henry who plays Rhona Goskirk, own an allotment together: “A nutritionist put me on a strict detox diet for two months. No alcohol, sugar, meat, wheat or dairy.

"It was tough but it worked. Zoe and I stopped eating processed foods, got an allotment, and cooked everything from scratch."

The couple have learned to love making their own food and often share updates of their home grown produce on social media, and their hobby means that Jeff no longer requires his medication.

Green-fingered Zoe admits she loves getting her hands dirty with the gardening: “We have an allotment and it’s so therapeutic to have your hands in the earth. We’re mindful of what we eat, but watching our diet isn’t about being on TV, it’s more about general well-being, as Jeff has Crohn’s disease."

The Emmerdale duo met in 1994 at theatre school and rekindled their romance when they both landed parts on the series.

“I saw Zoe and realised she was the girl for me,” said Jeff in 2011.

The pair were wed in 2003 and have two children together.

The 52-year-old actor has previously said that he would never share a storyline with his wife.

He said: “We don't film at the same time so we can share the childcare. I don't think we'll ever have a storyline together – Cain and Rhona are too different. Cain thinks Rhona's a bit of a snobby cow, so for me and Zoe it works well.”

Zoe has also spoken on the matter, saying: “Let's be honest, Rhona and Cain would never interact. The only way they'd cross paths is if Cain bought a hamster and brought it into the vets, which is most unlikely. I can't imagine them having a conversation about anything.”

Their real life romance was hinted at in one scene though when Rhona drunkenly confessed that Cain was her guilty crush.

Despite their lack of storyline crossovers, the couple love the fact that they work on the same show together.

Zoe said: “Jeff and I quite like that we don't do scenes together, it means we've got different days to talk about when we get home.”

She has also spoken on their on-set antics: “It's important to have a laugh in-between takes so upsetting stories don’t get you down too much.

"Working on the same show as Jeff, who plays Cain Dingle, also helps because if one of us is having a bad day then the other will completely understand."

Emmerdale airs weekdays at 7pm, with an extra episode Thursdays at 8pm, on ITV

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