Exclusive: Former Emmerdale star Alexander Lincoln on the marathon, new projects and Jamie return chances

alexander lincoln
Former Emmerdale star on Jamie return chancesDave Benett - Getty Images

Former Emmerdale star Alexander Lincoln will be among the runners in the London Marathon this weekend as he raises money for a cause that's close to his heart.

The actor, who played bad boy Jamie Tate in the ITV soap, has been busy training in recent months in aid of the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.

It hasn't just been the Marathon keeping Alexander busy, as he has co-written his own feature film, Zavi & the Elder, which also focuses on the issue of homelessness.

Digital Spy recently caught up with Alexander for an exclusive chat about the Marathon, his recent projects and whether we could ever see Jamie make a shock return to Home Farm.

alexander lincoln
Dave Benett - Getty Images

What made you want to do the Marathon this year? Was it the personal challenge that came first for you, or raising money for Centrepoint?

"It was more raising money for charity, to be honest with you. I've always run – although I hadn't for a few years before starting the training for this.

"But it was definitely the issue of homelessness in general which made me want to do it, because I hoped to raise some money and awareness. Running seemed to be the thing that made the most sense as a way to do that."

Why are you so passionate about this issue?

"There are so many facets to homelessness which can be dissected, but on the ground, ultimately it's on the rise – youth homelessness especially. It's not just in London, it's across the nation and it's something that really needs to be tackled.

"We also need to raise awareness of what homelessness actually is. There's this headline aspect to homelessness just being rough sleeping, but that's just the tip of the iceberg and there's so much more.

"There's the 'hidden homeless', where people are affected but not included in official statistics. There are rising numbers of people using temporary accommodation and people 'sofa surfing'. So these numbers that you see on the ground aren't always exactly accurate – it's far, far more. It's very hard to get an exact reading of how many people are affected.

"It's commendable that so many policymakers and politicians are looking to fix and solve rough sleeping, which is absolutely necessary, but it's a much wider issue."

What more needs to be done?

"A bit of everything, to be honest. Governmentally there's been a lack of new social houses being built. There's also this idea of temporary accommodation, which is brilliant and absolutely necessary, but a lot of these places aren't exactly brilliant and it's also a quick fix to a wider problem.

"Ultimately it's a huge cost, but whilst it would be more expensive in the interim to build more social housing and put more funding in, in the long-term it would stop it being so expensive. If we tackled problems like that, it'd be one way to help to solve the issue."

alexander lincoln
Dave Benett - Getty Images

How has your training been going? You mentioned a knee problem on your Instagram page recently…

"My knee has essentially fallen off! (Laughs.) Honestly, up until a couple of weeks ago I was absolutely loving it. I was doing fairly long runs and it was really great. Then I did a half marathon, which I was late for and didn't stretch. That was stupid, but I woke up late!

"I did that on a Friday and on the Saturday I felt great, I felt like Superman. Then I decided on the Sunday to do another half marathon, and by kilometre 21 I was like: 'Oh God!' It was absolutely horrible.

"Since then, my knee has been playing up and aching a little bit. It's fine now, so I'm pretty confident for the marathon. I've just been doing loads of boring squat training and ligament training to try and make sure that it's going to be alright for the race day."

We've heard that you've also co-created a new film, Zavi & the Elder, which also focuses on the issue of homelessness…

"Yes, Zavi & the Elder is a social narrative film. It follows our main character, Zavi – a young, directionless man in his 20s, who finds himself homeless just days before Christmas.

"Then at his lowest ebb, he meets this slightly erratic and entrenched homeless man called 'the Elder', who takes him on a journey of self-discovery and helps him gain confidence. It's a beautiful film, but also very real."

How have you been preparing for it?

"We're working quite closely with St Basils in Birmingham, where the film is set. Much like Centrepoint, St Basils do a lot of youth homelessness action. They work on the ground and really help young people.

"Zavi & the Elder is a film that's very, very real and very harrowing. But also, what it's meant to do is shine a light on the work that the charities do. There are so many people on the ground who are actually going above and beyond and genuinely care about this issue.

"It's also very real about the burnout at the centre as well. There's a large staff turnover, largely because the issue is so massive and underfunded that people are struggling to stay in it.

"Really it's about hope and changing perceptions of people and what they view as homelessness. As I was saying before, it's not just rough sleeping and our film also explores hidden homelessness."

alexander lincoln
Getty Images

Is this the first time that you've co-created and written your own film?

"Yeah, it is. I'm so proud of the work that we've done so far. We're working with some incredible people and I've done a lot of research into the sector. Obviously there's always so much more that I need to learn and want to learn as well.

"But it's been a lovely journey, doing that with the production company that I co-own with Charlie Lawrence, called Think Smart Productions. We're in the development stage and the funding stage at the moment."

You've done a lot since leaving Emmerdale. Do you enjoy that variety, or does part of you miss the regimented nature of the soap world where you know exactly what you're doing every day?

"That's an interesting question – I think you're right that there's more of a routine to being in a show like Emmerdale. It was a really beautiful experience and I miss everyone terribly.

"For me, what I've always really wanted with any aspect of my work is variation. I really wanted to explore lots of different avenues, including writing. There's a project that I'm directing soon and producing, so I've been doing various bits alongside acting.

"That's beautiful because when you're filming a soap, there's so much work that you don't often get a chance to explore those other facets. With this and where I am right now, it's wonderful."

We saw you pop up in BBC One's Doctors for a few episodes earlier this year. How was it to get that taste of the soap world again?

"The team are brilliant. It was bittersweet, because it was just a little taster of the soap world again but it was really, really lovely.

"Interestingly, it was going up to Birmingham for Doctors that set up the Zavi & the Elder journey a little bit. While statistically the homelessness problem is worse in London, it feels far more apparent in Birmingham – I don't know if that's because the city centre is smaller but it's a big issue there as well. It was filming on Doctors that gave the push to move the film to Birmingham."

jamie tate in emmerdale

Could Emmerdale ever tempt you back?

"Honestly, I loved it there and I love everyone there. There's always the possibility – if they'll have me – of going back. But right now, I've got quite a lot of stuff on and I really want to explore lots of different avenues of work.

"There's a few other projects coming up over the next couple of years which I'm quite excited about, but we'll see.

"I do miss the farm, for sure! I miss my on-screen mum [Claire King, who plays Kim Tate] and everyone else! Coming back would mean going back with a bang for sure, if they would have me. I'm always very excited about the possibility of going back at some point."

Was it tricky to have that transition from good guy to villain in Emmerdale?

"It was! When I first came on, it was very much: 'Oh, he's quite a sweet sensitive young man'. Then he changed drastically, which was really interesting as a character.

"I suppose in a way it really fitted into the Tate dynasty, so it made sense for the character. Even if Jamie started off quite sweet compared to his mum, he ultimately became a bit of a villain and a bit of a baddie. It's always way more fun to play a bad guy."

Have you been keeping up with the current domestic abuse story involving Jamie's ex-girlfriend Belle?

"I haven't watched the show regularly, but I have been keeping up with what's going on in the Dales so I have seen that. It's been wonderfully acted. It really is an issue that is so important and needs exploring, so I'm really glad they're tackling that.

"I don't think Jamie would be the best person to come back for that storyline, though – he's potentially fairly controlling himself, so it probably wouldn't be the best thing at all!"

You've starred in LGBTQ+ rugby film In From the Side, which did well on Netflix last year. Has that opened up new doors for you as an actor?

"Yeah, absolutely, the reception's been wonderful. Honestly, the most wonderful thing about it is that people got in contact and said how much the film resonates and how much it means to them.

"People have said that it's inspired them even with the possibility of getting into sports. I think a lot of LGBTQ+ people feel like sports is maybe a closed door for them, especially when they're younger. But I think it's really highlighted that there is a want for that in the LGBTQ+ community, there are loads of clubs and things like that, which is really beautiful.

"But it absolutely has – there are a lot more projects coming in that have been lovely and I'm really excited for what the future holds."

There's lots of talk at the moment about cutbacks in soaps, or long-running shows ending altogether. Do you think the soaps will be able to survive this transition into the streaming era?

"I really, really hope they do. First off, it's the historical nature of it. These soaps have been running for so long and it's where many actors, directors, crew and various people have cut their teeth. It's a very necessary art form, but also a training ground for people.

"Honestly, some of the best actors I've worked with have been on soaps – largely because of how much you have to learn and go through the ringer constantly. That's the same with directors and crew.

"I do think the industry would be a much sadder place without them – and there'd be less people able to cut their teeth without soaps. I really hope they get to continue, but it's sad that a lot of places are losing their funding and their position in the landscape."

Alexander's sponsorship page for the Marathon can be found here. More information on youth homelessness can be found on the Centrepoint website.

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