Fave or Fail? (16-20 April 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week Liv got a four month sentence and Lisa left the village.

Faves

Arthur’s Discovery

4129b3d2-dfb0-4e7c-94fe-89cbac27efb9Just as the continuation of the unpopular Bob and Laurel storyline made us want to put our foot through the telly, Emmerdale took the story in an ingenious direction – getting Arthur involved! After the poor lad overheard an incriminating conversation between the pair, he was thrown into turmoil. With so many adultery stories in soap, we rarely get to see the damaging effect on the children but with a talented actor like Alfie Clarke at the helm this was the prime opportunity to explore that story. And let’s face it, it’s far more interesting to watch that turmoil than it is to keep watching Bob and Laurel pining! Now that Brenda knows, there’s no longer that kind of explosive energy but now a much more subtle and heartbreaking torture for lovely Arthur who is complicit and hurt by the lies and betrayal. A much better and more original direction for this story.

Lydia’s Kindness

vlcsnap-2018-04-22-16h08m34s408When Lydia Hart became a regular character in Emmerdale, she was the kooky grief counsellor-come-cleaner who loved a cockatoo (Steve, naturally). But thanks to her adorable relationship with Sam Dingle and her abundance of jobs and friends she’s integrated organically and wonderfully. This week Lydia moved into Wishing Well in the absence of Lisa. It felt like it had been ages since we’d seen her and I was grateful for the warmth and kindness she brings to the village. Her slightly unconventional ways still exist but she’s written with the empathy and compassion that’s much needed in the village and especially by Belle this week who began to suffer again with a deterioration in her mental health. Now that Lydia has moved in with the Dingles I can only hope that the wedding between her and Sam isn’t too far away! It’s going to be brilliant!

Fun Factor

vlcsnap-2018-04-22-16h06m26s897I’ve been a Jessie fan since the moment she appeared on screen and every time we edge closer to finding out more about her I get excited. We’re not quite there yet but there were more hints than ever this week as she continued to avoid Marlon’s attentions. I’m not opposed to the idea of them together but his persistence is starting to get to David levels of irritating. They do however make great friends and manage to inject a real fun factor into Emmerdale. Jessie is a bright presence at the school and making Marlon give a talk about honesty was entertaining. Emmerdale don’t always get comedy right but in Marlon and Jessie they’ve found the right balance of joy without becoming cringey. But I am even more eager to know what skeletons Jessie has in the past!

Fails

Dingle Division

vlcsnap-2018-04-22-16h07m16s997I’m massively conflicted by this Liv story right now. On the plus side, Isobel Steele is massively talented and she deserves a big story (even if elements of it are a bit too close to Aaron’s story last year and they could do with making the two of them a bit less similar). But on the other side this story has given us a huge division in the Dingles, damaging Zak and Lisa’s relationship AGAIN, and making Zak as insensitive and unlikeable as the Joanie days. I found Lisa’s actions uncharacteristic and hard to believe so her family’s ousting and anger at her seemed contrived especially knowing Lisa’s departure for the village won’t last. Poor Belle unfairly bore the brunt of Zak and Sam’s anger reintroducing her mental health struggles too. And it’s never fun to watch Zak’s woe is me attitude either. There are several aspects of this story that just don’t gel for me and I hope the fractures don’t dominate the story too long because we’ve been there done that with Zak and Lisa.

Bobbing Back and Forth

vlcsnap-2018-04-22-16h05m05s839I’ve liked Bob for a long time, enjoying his happy spirit in the café but this week might have just killed my love for him dead. Watching Bob and Laurel make eyes at each other is irritating enough but a guiltless Bob was more than ready to ditch everything for Laurel this week without any consideration for Brenda and his poor kids. This story has brought out the worst in Bob making his hundredth midlife crisis feel even more tacky and insincere than ever. I was glad that Laurel talked sense to him but even she still seemed to be holding a candle. WHY?! And his crawling back to Brenda was unbearable. Surely Brenda can’t really marry him after all this? He doesn’t deserve it.

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Scene of the Week (16-20 April 2018)

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What a shocker this scene was! With Bob and Laurel pining away in their ill-advised limbo of forbidden feelings I was too busy groaning at the end of Thursday’s episode to expect what happened next. These days in the world of spoilers, genuine surprises are a rare thing but having poor innocent Arthur discover his mum’s secret was a great moment. Alfie Clarke is a brilliant actor and his pained, confused expression really did the job of tugging at the heart strings. It was particularly painful that he discovered this secret in his safe space of the pirate ship, a place that meant so much to him and his dad. Even better was that it added a new dimension to the frustrating and irritating Bob and Laurel story. Poor Arthur!

6 Emmerdale Performances Worth Voting For

The longlist for the British Soap Awards is now open and our Emmerdale favourites are up for the coveted accolades. With six of Emmerdale’s best performers up for awards, I thought I would choose six scenes from the past year to showcase why they deserve a vote or two.

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Best Actor

Ryan Hawley (Robert Sugden)

Robert tries to let go – Christmas Day 2017

With almost all of the special Christmas episode centred on Robert, Ryan Hawley had a huge task carrying the episode after another eventful year of playing heartbroken and vengeful. The final scene of the Christmas Day episode saw a broken Robert defeated and tearful, having given up on reuniting with Aaron for the sake of his well-being. It was a gut-wrenching and beautifully played moment played between him and Danny Miller, showcasing their chemistry and the subtle agony Ryan is able to play on Robert’s face. For a character who can be the viciously smug seducer, Ryan has excelled at showing us Robert’s vulnerable, raw sides this past year.  

Vote for Ryan – Best Actor

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Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle)

Cain’s flashback – November 2017

Loveable rogue Cain Dingle is never far from a car boot kidnap, but with the arrival of his mother Faith and a new son in Isaac, Cain was thrown into turmoil about his childhood. Exploring Cain’s past through a specially constructed episode using recast younger actors, Emmerdale explored the heart breaking harsh upbringing Chas and Cain endured. Cain is a man who holds his emotions tight so when Jeff Hordley gets to show us Cain’s exposed pain, we feel every tear. In Cain’s childhood home, Jeff managed to evoke a lifetime of agony and confusion in a single look and his onscreen dynamic with Sally Dexter makes you believe in them totally as mother and son.

Vote for Jeff – Best Actor

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Michael Parr (Ross Barton)

Ross’s Acid Attack Prognosis – Feb 2018

We were so used to seeing hard-man Ross let nothing stand in his way until he became a victim of mistaken identity and an acid attack at the start of the year. It’s been a complete change to see Ross lose his confidence and bravado and that switch from arrogant bloke to vulnerable and uncertain man has been one actor Michael Parr has relished. As doctors revealed his prognosis, it Ross being left alone when Michael really shone, shedding all of the Ross we’d come to know and showing us this broken man instead. As Ross continues to struggle with new challenges and a difficulty to accept his future, it’s been a welcome and impressive transformation.

Vote for Michael – Best Actor

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Best Actress

Emma Atkins (Charity Dingle)

Charity’s Abuse Reveal – April 2018

Since her return in 2016, Charity has mostly been used for (brilliant) comic relief and razor sharp lines, but this year has seen her take on a hugely emotional storyline as Charity opened up about her past. The story might only just have begun but Emma Atkins’ performance when Charity told Vanessa what she’d suffered at the hands of DI Bails, was powerful and harrowing. Emma’s incredible portrayal dug deep into the heart of Charity’s character, breaking down the walls Charity has built around herself and it’s clear that these levels of performances will continue to resonate as Charity’s story progresses.

Vote for Emma – Best Actress

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Lucy Pargeter (Chas Dingle)

Chas’s pregnancy decision – February 2018

There’s never been a quiet year for Chas Dingle, but things are looking a bit happier for her lately as she’s settled down with Paddy. Things didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts for the pair though and Chas was thrown into turmoil in February when she discovered she was pregnant. Despite Chas’s pregnancy decision being a divisive story among villagers and viewers, Lucy always gives Chas a vivacity and strength even when Chas herself is struggling. There are raw emotions in her performances which meant you couldn’t help but be on Chas’s side during those emotional scenes when she explained why she couldn’t go through the pregnancy. Even though Chas has now changed her mind and wants to keep the baby, I don’t expect it will be plain sailing. Chas Dingle never has it easy…

Vote for Lucy – Best Actress

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Natalie J Robb (Moira Dingle)

Moira’s guilt – December 2017

Wow, what a year Moira had. If 2016 wasn’t traumatic enough for her, the end of Moira’s 2017 was lifechanging. After being caught up in the events of Emma’s breakdown, Moira found herself giving birth to a shock baby. But that wasn’t all! As flashbacks revealed, Moira was also responsible for Emma’s murder, after being goaded by her to do it. Natalie J Robb’s captivating performances made Moira’s guilt, grief and PND so agonising. It was a shock to everyone that Moira killed Emma, but Natalie made Moira’s actions believable for the audience and unbearable for her to deal with, having knock-on effects to her feelings towards Isaac too. These were powerful scenes of guilt and confession, made even greater by the partnership between Natalie and Jeff.

Vote for Natalie – Best Actress  

And you can of course vote for Emmerdale as Best Soap too! Longlist voting closes Tuesday 24th April 2018.

Fave or Fail? (9-13 April 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the heartbreaking week that saw Charity open up about her past, Rhona confronted Ross about his use of painkillers.

Faves

Charity’s Crushing Past

03d41db7-f65d-4047-bb65-055aff317326Charity is one of Emmerdale’s best characters and Emma Atkins one of the best performers, but since her return in 2016 she’s been a bit wasted without a storyline of her own. I’ve grown to love Charity the landlady but she’s so much more than sharp tongued comic relief, as this week proved. With DI Bails acting as Hotten’s hero for vulnerable abused women, Charity’s past came flooding out to Vanessa before breaking down in her arms in painful and powerful scenes. We don’t often get to see Charity so exposed and open so when we do it’s all the more moving and poignant. Her backstory has been so carefully constructed that we can see ripples of it in her personality to this day and the hint at a secret son we didn’t know about offers more potential for heart-breaking stories in future too. Here’s hoping we get to keep Charity at the forefront of these big emotional stories for a while, it’s been too long.

Unlikely Allies

dba954fb-7f68-4fe0-ad3a-c13830a2c3c6Emmerdale is known for its beloved pairings and partnerships but sometimes friendships and fun can be found in unlikely pairings. Take Doug, for example, who has seemingly adopted Gerry as his little gardening protégé. They’re so very different but it’s their chalk and cheese dynamic that makes them so endearing. Ross has developed two surprising friendships this week, one with reality TV loving Rebecca and the other with addiction confidant Rhona. Ross might be using Rebecca to cadge extra meds, but he makes the character seem more genuine and relaxed than she ever has done. With Rhona onto his pill reliance, it’s been nice to see Emmerdale explore characters with similar history and makes his story more meaningful because of it.

Showdown

001This week things came to a head between Laurel and Brenda when Laurel discovered it was Brenda behind the identity fraud with her bank card. After Brenda’s less than subtle hints the week before, Laurel finally put the nail in the “Bobel” coffin and told Bob it was over and that Brenda was onto them. So far she’s stuck to her word, thankfully recognising that Bob had become a crutch, just like alcohol, and that this was a horrid affair for all involved (could’ve told her that!). Both her and Brenda had a showdown, both skirting round the truth of the affair in stilted, cold words both admitting to their wrong-doings but almost in code. It was an oddly satisfying moment, especially as it was an unusual move for an affair reveal. I can only assume when Brenda confronts Bob it’s going to be explosive!

Fails

Broken Trust

edcf94ba-849f-447d-9054-d3f592712335After Charity’s vulnerable confession about her past to Vanessa, Ness did the worst possible thing she could do and broke Charity’s trust by calling the police. Vanessa’s naivety might have been well meaning, but it was classic “act first, think much later” Ness behaviour. I had hoped after she almost screwed up Rhona’s trial that she might have a bit more sense but instead she opened up a hugely traumatic experience for Charity, when it had been so raw and exposing for her. For such a significant betrayal this week’s conclusion left a lot to be desired, with Vanessa being forgiven and all being well in camp Vanity. I can’t help but feel Charity’s anger and hurt was more than earned and could have been played for longer, letting Vanessa really learn from her actions.

Short on Laughs

vlcsnap-2018-04-13-17h59m08s895There comes a point when you hear the same joke so many times that it stops becoming funny. That’s how I felt this week about the mortifyingly bad Rodney and Misty story and Paddy’s bumbling fool routine. There were laughs to be had in the Rodney story but that mostly came from the Kings and the kids reacting to hippie vegan Misty, but as for Rodney’s sex-capades it was unfunny to the point of agony. It was hard not to wince and cringe at the noises and chasing, making me question if this was the same award-winning soap. As for Paddy, who managed to be even more irritatingly stupid than normal for suffering Chas (and us), surely he’s better than just playing the idiot? His comic relief can be brilliant, but making him flap and stutter all the time has lost any sense of comedy.

Scene of the Week (9-13 April 2018)

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There was no question when choosing this Scene of the Week as Emma Atkins’ stunning performance made Charity’s description of her abuse one of the most powerful moments of Emmerdale this year. Opening up to girlfriend Vanessa, Charity detailed the horrendous story of grooming and abuse which she suffered at the hands of DI Bails and her survival since. Scenes of heavy backstory dialogue, fraught with emotion, is no easy job but Emma Atkins took us there with her, right back to Charity’s past, and held our attention with every word. It was an exceptional scene in a heart-breaking story, one which is rightly placing Charity back to the front of the show.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 April 2018)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the week that saw Aaron get kidnapped, Bob and Laurel just couldn’t keep their hands off each other – again, and again.

Faves

Turning Tables

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h14m51s876Okay sure, the kidnap was a bit flat and the confusion over contracts was a bit of a muddle, but the continually turning tables between Joe and Robert has real potential. The White family were never a match for Robert’s cunning, making it painfully easy for him in their obliviousness, but Joe’s got the cash and the ruthlessness to use Robert’s weak spot for his advantage. Seeing Robert sign a deal with the devil takes us to new territory for him – he’s used to control and victory and working for himself. Being under Joe’s thumb is going to drive him crazy, it’s a pressure cooker waiting to happen, but it could easily escalate on both sides. Neither man wants to lose but the one-upmanship has already had its moments of arrogant fun on both sides so bring it on.

Bittersweet Memories

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h15m40s451It was Ashley’s memorial this week and I can hardly believe a whole year has passed since he died. In between all of the Bob and Laurel grief shagging, we did get to see a touching service on a very wintery looking day. These scenes were another chance to see the Thomas kids shine with both Gabby and Arthur reminding us of how impressive their performances were and continue to be in relation to Ashley’s story. I particularly liked the parallel to Ashley’s funeral, only this time it was Arthur stepping up to read the speech when Gabby’s emotions got the better of her. These two are the big stars in the Emmerdale future.

King and Queen

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h17m14s426For all the chaos and upset Joe Tate has brought to the village, he’s done one good thing and that’s allowed us to see more of Jimmy and Nicola King. This week they got to be smug and smart as they stood up to Joe and helped Robert sort of get back on track. They’re absolutely two of my favourite characters in the village and it’s been great to see them keep their kookiness but still get a small victory. More please!

Dark Brenda

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h11m26s627The Bob and Laurel affair story has reached almost unbearable levels of snogging and teenage frolicking, however if there’s one shining light in this plot then it’s been the rise of Dark Brenda. I think by this point, with sympathy very much on Team Brenda, we’d all be cheering her on to fire up a chainsaw in the direction of Bob’s balls. Her menacing and pointed asides are comically unsubtle, but her little acts of revenge and copious wine drinking is a real Mood (as the kids say). By this point I’m all for Brenda to embrace the dark side fully and start dressing as a goth.

Puppet Master

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h17m59s523Granted Emmerdale’s delaying tactics when it comes to the Lachlan car crash reveal are getting almost as frustrating as the dragging out of the Emma saga, but there’s no question that Lachlan is at his most engaging when he’s playing puppet master. This week he managed to convince Rebecca that she encouraged Chrissie to drive faster so was therefore responsible for the crash. A particularly clever and wicked move considering her brain damage but a role that actor Thomas Atkinson seems to relish.

Fails

Hair Raising

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h18m46s675For a silly comedy plot, Daz’s unicorn hair got a lot of screentime this Thursday as multiple crossed wires and misunderstandings meant his relationship with Bernice was briefly on the rocks. Followers of this blog will know that Bernice is one of my absolute favourite characters from her brilliant comic timing to her surprisingly emotional moments too, but even she struggles to lift Daz from the doldrums. I’ve nothing really against the man, he just seems a bit of a drip, especially when Bernice is such a lively, scene stealing character. She deserves a better story than this? And if they can’t find someone with enough spark to pair her off with then I’d happily watch more of her in the salon or being a pretty dodgy mother to Gabby.

No Real Danger

vlcsnap-2018-04-07-21h18m16s866Perhaps one of the problems with this week’s lacklustre kidnap plot was that barely a week goes by without someone being tossed into a car boot. Considering it’s usually Cain doing the kidnapping, it seemed ironic that he was on the opposite side this week trying to rescue Aaron from the clutches of panto villain, Syd. Robert and Aaron have faced so much angst in their quest to be together that even their reactions to Aaron’s life being at stake felt a bit muted in comparison to their usual emotionally-intense peril. But it wasn’t just Syd springing up from nowhere and disappearing almost as quick that was the problem, it was that the stakes didn’t seem very high or very real when it was all done and dusted in about ten minutes on screen. When the story was sprinkled between Daz’s unicorn hair and Bob and Laurel sucking face for the hundredth time it lost all sense of urgency. Still, getting Cain and Moira involved in a Robron story was a great move – fingers crossed for more of that.