Inside Emmerdale's Cain Dingle's star life off-screen – from health battle to strict diet and co-star wife

EMMERDALE'S Cain Dingle is known as a criminal and a bad boy – having been to jail on more than one occasion through his soap stint.

But actor Jeff Hordley, who plays the iconic character in the ITV soap, lives a much more wholesome and quiet life away from the cameras.


Jeff, 51, who has been nominated for a British Soap Award three times for his performance as Cain, is far from his bad boy persona seen on Emmerdale.

The longstanding village resident became part of the show in 2000 and left in 2006 – with his storyline left open for a potential return.

He came back onto the scene in 2009, and has remained on the show since as a resident mechanic and farmer on the soap.

It hasn't been easy for Jeff, who was diagnosed with Crohns Disease in 1996 but continued to act as his iconic character despite the pain.

The actor has had to deal with stomach cramps and diarrhoea for six years before he was given the Crohns diagnosis, which killed his mother in 1979.

He previously recalled: "When I was just nine, my mum had died from the very same illness. My reaction [when I was diagnosed] was, 'Am I going to die too?'"

Luckily, Jeff was able to get the right medical treatment for the disease and had surgery to remove the diseased portion of bowel in the 1990s.

The star collapsed in 2002 due to blood haemorrhaging, and vowed to stop smoking and cut down on alcohol to prevent his disease from getting worse.

Since then, he has been eating a fresh, natural diet – and grows his own food on an allotment – which means he no longer requires medication.

Jeff, who is married to fellow Emmerdale star Zoe Henry – who plays Rhona Goskirk – frequently show off their home-grown produce on social media.

"A nutritionist put me on a strict detox diet for two months. No alcohol, sugar, meat, wheat or dairy," Jeff has said of his clean diet.

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

Zoe added: “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 stars met in 1994 at theatre school and after going their separate ways, rekindled their romance when they worked together on the series.

Jeff and Zoe were married in 2003, and they have two children together.

The Cain Dingle star has previously admitted he would never do a storyline with his wife to ensure they can "share the childcare" at home.

"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," he explained.

The only time their real-life romance has been referenced in the show is during a scene when Rhona drunkenly confessed that Cain was her village crush.

Despite the fact their storylines have never crossed over, the couple have both insisted they love working 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 added of their antics on set: “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 episode Thursdays at 8pm, on ITV


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