He might be a classically-trained actor who’s starred in tFoyle’s War, Torchwood and Chekhov’s The Duel, but only now has Chesterfield actor Rik Makarem achieved a “career high” – dressing up as a tangerine Oompa-Loompa.
“It was intense,” Rik joked about the stag do outfit (from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory) that his character Nikhil Sharma is made to wear in ITV soap Emmerdale.
“Actually, it was quite liberating and I grew quite attached to that outfit. It was like taking on a different character for a few days. It gave me licence to be more playful, which was brilliant.”
Rik says that the Wonka-themed stag party isn’t his character Nikhil’s idea of fun.
Considering his fiancee Gennie is having problems with her mother Brenda, who refuses to attend her daughter’s wedding following her brain tumour diagnosis, “it’s supposed to be very low-key and relaxed”, says Rik.
Except that his mates Declan and David take charge, force him into the outfit and whisk him off to Holdgate where a sweetie paradise awaits.
But where there’s drink there’s trouble, especially in soap-land, and it’s not long before Nikhil is tipsily asking his brother Jai to be his best man despite having already lined David up. While David and Jai are left fighting over who gets to be the last (best) man standing, Nikhil is trying to ensure the wedding day goes without a hitch. This looks unlikely as Brenda remains adamant she’s not attending her daughter’s wedding in case her illness spoils the day. The question is, will Gennie be able to go through with the ceremony without her mother present? And what of Nikhil, the groom-to-be who’s hoping for the happy ever after?
“He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s a very difficult situation,” says Rik.
“Guys are sensitive too and think about a wedding day just as much as girls, even if they don’t let on,” he admits. “It’s almost inbred into girls that it’s their day and in a way it is because they’re the princess, but you’re not a princess without a Prince Charming.”
And Rik, who isn’t married, believes Nikhil and Gennie deserve a wonderful wedding.
“The stakes are very high. They’ve been on a wonderful, quirky journey together and you hope there’s a happy ever after. That’s what the audience will be rooting for, but does that ever really happen in soaps?” he teases.
It’s nearly four years since Rik joined the soap.
The wedding of Nikhil and Gennie is due to air tomorrow.