Emmerdale’s Christmas special episode was a bit different from the norm – to say the least – but whether it was the mad movie tributes or the tear-jerking reality, there was so much to enjoy. Here are just eight of the reasons I loved it.
Emmerdale took a real risk with their Christmas special this year and the weight of the genre twisting fell onto Ryan Hawley’s shoulders as Robert took centre stage. Ryan’s pulled out some impressive performances this year and salvaged some of the more unpopular storylines with his talents and this special episode really showcased his range. From his confusion at the bonkers goings on to his self reflection and heart breaking revelation, Ryan brought humour and heart to the episode even in the crazy dream sequences. What a star.
Back From the Dead
Perhaps one of the most surprising and thrilling moments was seeing the legendary Val Pollard again. She’s larger than life and much missed so it seems only fitting that she made an appearance. With a whole host of one-liners – far too many to repeat – and a wicked sense of humour, Val was the perfect ghost to lead Robert to redemption. More than anything though it made it clear that there has been no bigger error than killing off The Valerie Pollard.
Mad Movie Mash-ups
Last year’s Emmerdale had real snow and lots of traditional Christmassy vibes, but this year they went one step madder with A Christmas Carol tribute, merged with a bit of Groundhog Day. It did sort of feel like you’d had one too many sherries watching it, but the psychedelic fun seems a little more acceptable on Christmas Day. Jimmy King and his boxer shorts cropped up in every sequence as the Ned Ryerson figure, adding to Robert’s frustrations and Dan’s own version of Last Christmas will continue to haunt me long into the New Year. Sure it was like a drug induced hallucination, complete with dream sequences, ghosts and the bonkers world of Robert Sugden’s subconscious, but as a hardcore fan, it was a fun change to the norm.
Part of the fun of the dream sequences was to see the weird and wonderful outfits Robert Sugden’s brain conjured. Loud, opulent and Christmassy was the general vibe, until we got to the funeral scenes where the eyeliner came out and everything went a bit gothic. I always enjoy fancy dress in The Dales and seeing the characters in ways we wouldn’t normally, so there was a surreal glam fun to it all.
Love, Life and Death
Emmerdale’s much loved and much tortured couple had their love and their heartbreak revisited in the Christmas episode, just so we could all cry into our turkey sandwiches. It’s been widely reported that they’re reuniting in 2018 (thank god) and the special episode exposed the qualities that make this so longed for. It’s will they/won’t they rom-com at its finest, with third wheel love triangles, dreamy fantasy sequence and life or death moments of tragedy, heralded by the visceral chemistry between Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. TV romance gold.
Sort-of Sugden Family Christmas
The Sugden family are fractured these days to say the least, but it was nice to see the mix and match of the extended family rally round in the present day scenes. It’s no shock that Robert is a fairly lonely and isolated man considering everything he’s done, but with no living parents left it’s touching to see Diane and Doug take that role a little. Their lowkey celebrations were a world away from the Dingles but were loving in their own way. Doug and Robert’s clashing personalities have been a fun new thing to explore and I hope this muddled family unit get some more material come the new year.
This year’s Christmas special was always going to be a bit wacky and divisive but I admire Emmerdale’s stab at something different. This episode gave them the chance to really dig into Robert’s complex character and address all the trouble and heartbreak he’s caused in a surprising and fun way. In the past few years they’ve broken new ground in the soap genre, trying to make something fresh and unique. Not every risk pays off, but I’d gladly watch Emmerdale doing something unusual and special than rehashing the past by trying to re-do old glories like other soaps we won’t mention! Emmerdale’s a top quality soap bringing new ideas to a familiar genre and that can’t be a bad thing.
That Tear-jerking Ending
What did we do to deserve such pain on Christmas Day?! But after a few wines and a shed load of excitement, we were bound to end up blubbing somehow. With Robert’s life in tatters and his nightmares ringing in his ears, he decided to do the selfless thing and let go of Aaron. As the two tearfully parted at the hospital, both of them still in love, it was a briefly painful resolution to months of heartbreak. With intimate and subtle performances it was quite a change from the episode’s wacky opening, but the type of scene that both actors excel in. If the Christmas Day scenes were anything to go by then that reunion is sure gonna be something special. I’m waiting…