Emmerdale star Steve Halliwell has revealed the reason behind his long absence from the soap.
His popular character Zak Dingle hadn’t been seen on screen in months after the actor suffered heart problems.
The 64-year-old said he was forced to take five months sick leave from the ITV series after he had pacemaker fitted in September.
Following his recovery, Steve is returning to the Dales next month.
He told Sun Online : "I’m back at work in a few weeks and feeling fitter than ever after having a pacemaker fitted in September. It’s done me the world of good and I feel fantastic.
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"Emmerdale have been brilliant throughout and really looked after me. I did have to spend some time in hospital and it was really funny to see the entire Dingle clan around my bed.
"Everyone has been so considerate and I know it sounds a bit of a cliche, but we really are one big happy family."
Steve is one of the longest serving Emmerdale castmembers, having joined the show in 1994.
His character’s last big plotline was Lachlan White’s plot to kidnap Rebecca, keeping her captive in Zak’s shed.
The actor last took a break from the soap in 2004 for "personal reasons", later revealing he went to rehab.
In 2014, Steve revealed his battle with alcohol and depression in his autobiography Cap Fits: My Rocky Road To Emmerdale.
He said at the time: "I was born to play Zak Dingle – the cap really does fit. Most of the storylines I’ve lived in real life. I’ve been broke, evicted, in trouble with the law.
"Then there’s depression, drinking and having to fight your way out of situations. I’ve lived all those things – and more.
"I can’t blame anyone else. I pressed the self-destruct button."
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