Ex Emmerdale star Jason Merrells: ‘Soap is great, but I had an itch to scratch!’

(Image credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)

Jason Merrells reveals the multiple reasons why he left his role as Emmerdale’s village villain, Declan Macey, in a recent chat with What’s on TV

Catching up with the Jason, who appears in Thursday’s Death in Paradise, we asked the former Casualty and Queer as Folk star why he left Emmerdale late last year.

Jason said: “There were a couple of reasons for leaving. One was to spend more time with my family, and I’m currently having a lovely time at home. But this wasn’t the only reason. I also wanted to move on because I’d become keen to do other things.

“Soap is great, and if you’re happy to carry on doing it, then stay. But if you’re not, you eventually get an itch you have to scratch!”

Jason, who also starred in iconic BBC dramas Clocking Off and Cutting It, has been busy since Declan left the Dales in a storm of violence.

He explained: “I did Death in Paradise literally a couple of weeks after finishing Emmerdale. Then I went onto another major job – a new ITV drama called Safe House with Christopher Eccelston, Marsha Thomason and Paterson Joseph. The cast, crew and scripts are fantastic, I’ve got really high hopes for it”

Now filming on both Death and Paradise and Safe House has finished, Jason’s turned his attention to finishing his debut novel. He revealed: “At the moment I’m taking some time out to do some writing and see what happens next. I’m in the process of finishing a novel about a London painter in the 90s and noughties. But I’d hesitate to call myself a novelist until the book is out there, bound, and being a read by a third party that isn’t a member of my family!”

And, of course, the Emmerdale barn door has been left open…

Jason says: “Emmerdale have left it open in theory, but it’s not something I’m planning to do. And I’m not sure how that would work. Declan would probably have to serve about eight years in prison before he’d be allowed to take up a worthwhile job in Emmerdale!”

Read more from Jason about his first post-Emmerdale role in Death in Paradise on BBC1, Thursday, February 19 at 9pm

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.