Emmerdale Reigns Supreme at the British Soap Awards

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Officially Britain’s Best Soap for the second year running is the brilliant Emmerdale. Not only did they win the top prize of the night – again – but they also collected five other awards including all the fan voted awards. And even better, after winning the NTA, the RTS and the BAFTA too, this is the second time in soap history a soap has won the grand slam collective. So three cheers for Emmerdale – keep up the good work.

Here’s a look at the prizes they won on Saturday night.

Best Single Episode: Ashley’s Point of View

Who can forget the fantastic, unique and original episode last December when we saw the world through Ashley’s eyes? Emmerdale did an incredible job giving us a closer insight on how confusing the world can be for someone with dementia. Using special camera techniques and look-a-like actors to give us that creeping familiarity was a genius touch and all the doppelgangers did an amazing job. They even used the old Emmerdale village in Esholt and the original Woolpack to give it an even cleverer touch. Ashley’s special episode is even used in dementia training now so I couldn’t think of anything more deserving for the accolade.

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Best Storyline: Ashley’s Dementia

The story of Ashley’s dementia touched the hearts of many viewers especially considering it’s an illness that affects so many families. It was completely heartbreaking to watch Ashley’s decline and the touching scenes of his family attempting to cling on was easily some of the best soap material ever scene. John Middleton gave many acceptance speeches that night but there was truly nothing more emotional than his tribute to a man currently going through the same illness as Ashley who has found a new love of singing.

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Best Actor AND Best Male Dramatic Performance: John Middleton

What a man John Middleton is. Gracious, humble and a legend. He gave the performance of his career in the Ashley storyline, a story and a character than has been praised so widely by fans and critics alike. John was such a deserving winner of both awards and gave very kind and thankful speeches every time he collected his awards, making sure to credit all those behind the scenes and the fans too. Ashley’s story and the man himself will never be forgotten and judging by his speeches, the awards couldn’t have gone to a nicer man.

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Best Actress: Charlotte Bellamy

There was no one more surprised than Charlotte herself when she won the fan-voted award of Best Actress, but she shouldn’t have been so shocked – she’s been exceptional. Not only has she given a relatable performance as a wife and a mother struggling to hold family life together during her husband’s dementia, Charlotte give Laurel and her alcohol addiction such depth and heart. She’s consistently brilliant and it’s about time she was rewarded!

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Best Soap: EMMERDALE!

Matthew Wolfenden’s reaction said it all! Emmerdale was voted as the winner of Best British Soap for a second year running – and so deserved! The last 12 months have brought us countless amazing performances, gripping storylines and some of soap’s best moments ever. From Holly’s death, to Ashley’s dementia, to the incredible Super Soap Week, to the Robron wedding and Rhona’s rape – Emmerdale had a great year. Can they make it a hattrick? Let’s hope so!

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Emmerdale Cast: Best Dressed 2017

I expect you all know the results of the British Soap Awards by now but you can expect my verdict on the big night the day after it airs on telly. But for now, lets celebrate our amazing and talented cast and their glamorous looks on the red carpet.

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Best Dresses

Last year Fiona Wade (Priya) wowed in black and this year she’s done it in white, wearing what was probably my favourite outfit of the lot! I love that she paired a crop top with a floaty full skirt – it’s elegant and modern. Amy Walsh was a far cry from Tracy’s 90s make-up and pastel outfits and looked super gorgeous in bright red with a matching lipstick. Her sleek shoulder-length hair really suits her. Speaking of hair, Eden Taylor Draper’s (Belle) soft waves really complimented her delicate and pretty dress choice. A lilacy-blue colour with a floral detail was a lovely summery and girlie pick. All three wore completely different looks and each of them looked stunning – now if only there was a reason to get this glammed up for a night at the Woolie.

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Best Hair and Make Up

I could have picked any of the Emmerdale ladies and cried about how beautiful they looked on Saturday night’s award show, but there were three women in particular who left me with serious hair envy. Multi-award winning Charlotte Bellamy (yes I can say that now!) is used to having her hair pulled back, wearing quite mumsy florals and cardies as Laurel, but at the British Soap Awards she looked chic in black, her hair down in sophisticated curls. I really loved Charlotte’s make up too, a simple nude lip, a dewy glow and a smokey eye. Similarly Michelle Hardwick (Vanessa) rocked a fresh make up look with a pretty pink lipstick, but she had her hair in the cutest up-do that I just loved. When it comes to Zoe Henry (Rhona), I ALWAYS long for hair as lovely as hers but I loved how she went for slightly messy waves, giving her whole look a bit of a rock-chic vibe. Perfect.

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The Boys

Guys have an easy job, don’t they? Because you cannot go wrong with a suit. But I have to say, my favourite choices on the suit front are the unconventional so that’s why you might raise your eyebrow at my favourites! Matthew Wolfenden (David) – with a lot more hair than he had last year – looked gorgeous in a completely blue suit (doesn’t it look lovely with his eyes?) and a slightly metallic looking tie. Also looking curly on top was almost-King-of-the-Jungle Adam Thomas (Adam) who went for a very unsubtle floral print shirt. It was bold and loud and a really unusual look for the soap awards – I loved it!

6 Perfect Reasons To Vote Emmerdale at the Soap Awards

Last year Emmerdale took home the big one – Best British Soap – at the British Soap Awards, for the first time in its history. The last twelve months in Emmerdale have been brilliant, so here are just a few reasons why Emmerdale is still the best soap and why you should vote for them at the Soap Awards.

Dealing with Tough Issues

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Emmerdale has been praised for its heartfelt stories about issues that have grounding in reality and deal with difficult subjects such as marital rape and dementia – and rightly so. Episodes like Holly’s tragic and shock death from a heroin overdose and Ashley’s passing were emotive and touching, particularly as they connected with an audience who had suffered similar tragedies in their own lives. These stories are soap at their finest and are especially effective when we have spent years watching these characters and their lives play out.

Super Soap Week

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It’s hard to imagine that Emmerdale’s Super Soap Week will ever be bettered. It had it all: a unique storytelling device, beautiful camera work, character focused episodes and then a blockbuster style stunt like nothing we’ve ever seen in soap before. It brought together a range of villagers in stories which covered multiple genres and saw their lives collide – literally. It was visually impressive, ambitious and a real treat for any Emmerdale or soap fan.

Complex Characters

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Emmerdale is blessed with a fantastic range of vibrant characters but it doesn’t make caricatures of them. Characters we think of as the fools can still face heartbreak; the bad guys can have a soft side. Bad deeds are done and bad decisions are made, but mostly the people we see onscreen feel human – like people we know and actions we can believe. Even some of its morally grey characters like Robert or Emma, have complicated emotional cores that are a joy to watch unfold. And even Emmerdale’s out-and-out villains like Pierce are more than just there for cackling and evil deeds – they showcase the dark side of human nature.

Flawless Performances

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There’s a reason why Emmerdale’s so full of great characters and hard-hitting storylines, why the cast is so beloved by all who watch and that’s simply down to how hugely talented the actors are. We’re moved to tears of sadness and laughter, we’re shocked and angered. We could hand out fifty awards and still feel like the cast deserve more. From the stunts to the quiet moments of pain and heartbreak, the Emmerdale actors nail it all. A vote for Emmerdale is a vote for this talented bunch and all the crew behind the scenes who make their performances even more powerful.

A Big Sense of Humour

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It’s not just emotional and hard-hitting issues Emmerdale tackles, but they often give us a great dollop of humour in its storylines. They might not all be rib-tickling but Emmerdale has enough brilliant comedy performers that there’s bound to be at least one villager that raises a laugh. Whether it’s the physical comedy, the one-liners or innuendo, Emmerdale isn’t short on laughs and it’s a warm and familiar comfort returning to these fun characters night after night.

Family Dynamic

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Family dynamics are a huge part of soap and Emmerdale’s use of family in the last year has helped to make its stories unbeatable. Soap families are notorious sprawling and unconventional, but there’s been no shortage of warmth and love between its family units, even those units which are forged through ties of friendship and loyalty rather than blood. We’ve had the BnB squad in Diane, Doug and Eric; we’ve seen the Thomas family facing a hard year, but the extended family brought humour and fun to Ashley’s bleak storyline; we’ve seen Aaron cement his new family with a wedding to Robert and a house for them and Liv; Tracy bonding with her birth father Frank and new-found sister in Vanessa, but her bond with Eric has been touching to see grow; The Dingles were severed last year with Zak’s betrayal but with Lisa taking him back and Debbie’s return, Faith’s arrival they’re as big and brash as ever. The Emmerdale families are so full of loveable relationships and surprising bonds that it makes deciding which family you’d join – if you could – an impossible choice!

Dress like your fave: Chrissie

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Lady of the manor Chrissie White is trying to redeem herself after a spell of being the village villain but her style has always been about classic, sophisticated glamour. If you’ve got something resembling Chrissie’s budget then you might like this chic and boxy jacket from Hobbs – jackets and blazers are Chrissie’s go-to! Sometimes we see Chrissie in coloured and snug fitting knitwear but this monochrome number would look just as classy. At her most devious we saw Chrissie floating around Home Farm in a lot of black and a lot of blouses and she was never too far from a large handbag, perfect for her size of purse! She’s got a saucy side too (handcuffs anyone?!) so a wine coloured leather-look skirt would be the perfect sexy addition. To finish the look, Chrissie loves a smokey eye and expensive looking jewellery. We might not have the White family’s budget, but you can still get close to that rich girl style.

5 Emmerdale Characters That Could Do With A Shake Up

We’re lucky as Emmerdale fans to have such a brilliant cast of characters, many of whom are capable of inspiring everything from belly laughs to gut-wrenching sobs. But there are a few great characters who are stuck in a rut and feel like they need a little change in direction, a curveball or something unexpected. These are not tired characters ready for the chop, these are good characters whose storylines just need a shake-up. Let me know if you agree!

Ross Barton

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For many viewers Ross Barton is the sexy, lovable rogue. He’s a bit of a bad boy but soft around his adorable son Moses. It’s been like that for a good few years now and after a shouty-testosterone fuelled feud with brother Pete, the Barton bros are living in relative harmony. Nothing has really changed for Ross. His big turning point came very early on in his time in Emmerdale as he had a star-crossed, and ultimately fatal relationship with police officer Donna Windsor and despite attempts to recreate that winning spark and thrilling love affair with Debbie Dingle, nothing else has quite captured that Ross/Donna magic. You know what you’re getting with Ross – lad bants, posturing, brotherly aggro, Middle Child Syndrome, maybe even a bit of pining for Debs.

So what next?

Something different! We’ve had the lucklustre Debbie and Ross romance, it’s time for something new. Something different, maybe even more emotional. Someone who challenges Ross in a different way. Show us a new weakness, give him something else besides a dodgy deal in the garage or bother with Pete. Make Moses more than a prop or find him a new rival.

Tracy Metcalfe

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Tracy suffers a very similar fate to David (and Bob, who I’ll come to later) in that they are literally, physically stuck behind a counter. Most of Tracy’s scenes now take place in the shop and while this often works for those who work behind the Woolie, we never seem to see her anywhere else these days. Once Tracy was a bit of a no-good schemer but now she has the “loveable-if-a-bit-dim” tropes covered. Because of this, both her and David have fallen into a pattern of sitcom style misunderstandings and mishaps which often end up in a little tiff and David getting his bum out. We do need the comedy capers (now more than ever in this dark and heavy period in Emmerdale) but Tracy has a lot more to give – and so does actress Amy Walsh – than just silliness.

So what next?

Get her out of the shop for one! Tracy’s movements and interactions have been so limited to the same bubble of characters lately. Even though the Finn stalker storyline was almost universally hated, it was good to see her giving Finn a hand. Give her some modest success and see how she and David deal with it, get her out in the community rubbing up Emma the wrong way with her “smutty tat”!

Aaron Dingle

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When Aaron returned to screens in 2014 the beginnings of his shock affair was something brand new for the character – we saw him betray his own morals for a bit of a lust fix. Fast forward two-and-a-bit years and a lot’s changed. Aaron’s grown into himself. He’s comfortable in his sexuality in a way he’s never been. He has a husband, he owns a business, a house and has his own family to look out for, rather than just being smothered by Chas. The problem? The misery overkill. Seriously, do the writers have a big book they work through labelled Miserable Stories For Aaron Dingle? When most characters have one problem to deal with, Emmerdale give him six and any sort of growth in his character is suffocated by the next new tragedy he’s given. The main issue of this tiring repetitive reliance on misery is apathy – you just know that whatever happens there’s a new agony waiting round the corner.

So what next?

If Aaron can’t have happiness, then can we at least give him a problem which doesn’t directly damage his mental health? Can his concerns and angst be about the wellbeing of someone else rather than turning in on himself? Or can therapy take his character into new and less self-destructive directions? Let Aaron enjoy that maturity of having adult responsibilities for a change.

Priya Kotecha

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Okay, let’s get this out the way. Priya’s problem is one thing and one thing only. Rakesh. Since being tied to him, a man that really lives up to the ball and chain metaphor, Priya’s character has suffered. She’s a strong and capable businesswoman who has real guts about her and we’ve also seen her face difficulties as she struggled with her eating disorder. But since being with Rakesh, she’s had to sit back and fold time after time, forgiving him for each latest mess up. Why?! She has the same ambitious fire as Megan and Leyla but her repetitive relationship with Rakesh just keeps dragging her down.

So what next?

Ditch Rakesh. Once he’s out of the picture maybe we can finally see Priya have some fun and away from her stuffy role in the factory. It’s about time Priya found someone decent for her, who she has a spark with.

Bob Hope

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As we know, Bob Hope can be the life and soul of a party. He’s not afraid of a bit of fun – be it stripping or role play. But Bob has the same problem as Tracy and David – he’s stuck in one location, one set and we rarely see him elsewhere. When we do though, it’s a breath of fresh air. Bob was a great addition to Ashley’s last few weeks, he was hilarious at the hen do events, great at the graveside with Carly and it’s been a joy to see him work behind the bar now and again. Let’s be honest there’s only so much story to be had when serving someone a latte and Bob is such a fun character that trapping him in the café is a waste.

So what next?

I’m not suggesting anything hasty in regards to Bob’s day to day life. I’m not willing to let Bob and Brenda (one of Emmerdale’s few stable couples) part ways, but I would really love to see Bob work part time in the pub now and again. Pubs are way more likely to be the centre of the drama than the café and Bob does like a bit of a gossip. Like Tracy, Bob just needs to get out there in the community more and be on hand for when his supportive or stripping duties are required!

Which great characters do you think are in need of a storyline shake up?

7 of Emmerdale’s Most Underrated Characters

 

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Emmerdale is fortunate to have such a brilliant cast of characters that picking favourites is always a challenge. In fact I can count the number of characters I actively dislike on just two fingers. But often it’s the biggest and most popular characters and actors who get all the attention, so here at The Woolie Weekly I thought I’d invite my blog readers to share their favourite “underrated” characters, alongside one of mine, and tell us why they love them.

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Vanessa Woodfield

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll probably have guessed that Vanessa is my choice for my ‘underrated’ fave. Vanessa isn’t as quiet storywise as other characters on this list, but she often plays a supportive role in storylines. Vanessa has such a fiesty spark and a great sense of fun, as well as being a loyal friend and a good mother. With Pierce on her case now I seriously worry for her safety!

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Leyla Harding

Submitted by ‘robroninterest’: “Leyla is mostly used for comic relief, but I would like to see more of her serious side. It was a pity that the ‘romance’ with Pete was rushed, they could have been a more interesting couple and struggled more to get together. Leyla can be a fragile character, that can once in a while do without the comical streak. I want drama Leyla.”

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Pearl Ladderbanks

Submitted by anonymous: “Pearl is amazing, funny, smart, but I also love her sensibility toward other characters, her jovial spirit and her curiosity about other villagers’ lives.

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Bernice Blackstock

Submitted by chloakerz: “As if I’d pick anyone but Bernice! I hope she gets to shine in the conclusion of Ashley’s story but other reasons why she deserves more screen time are: 1) she can do serious AND comedy which is a winning combo 2) putting her in the mix with the Whites (before they sucked the joy out of everything was genius) – she was in her element as lady of the manor 3) her relationship with Andy is perfectly classic chalk and cheese (Katie who?) 4) she loves wine ) ‘I will make you bald!’ truly iconic: need I say more? 6) if Emmerdale made Bernice and Robert BFFs I can die happy – so much snobby potential!

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Marlon Dingle

Submitted by anonymous: “Marlon, every time! He’s the sweetest, most precious villager who doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. He’s so often overlooked and ridiculously funny. The kind of pure character we all need to keep storylines fun and bright. He has been through a lot as well and still manages to be upbeat and happy. A true village legend.”

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Victoria Barton

Submitted by anonymous: “Victoria sees the good in most people but also doesn’t take any shit. Her and Adam seem to be two of the few ‘nice and normal’ characters remaining in Emmerdale. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t interesting. She’s grown up on the show but hasn’t been in the spotlight storyline wise for ages.

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Adam Barton

Submitted by anonymous: “Adam Thomas is one of those rare actors who can not only do brilliant, warm comedy that puts a smile on your face but he can do dark, angry or heartbroken to just as high a standard all while being effortless. He’s got a comfortable natural acting style and he’s so underused. He has so many connections in the village and could do so much. The writers don’t seem to realise that!”

 

 

We Need To Talk About: Aaron Dingle

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Given Emmerdale’s history, I shouldn’t be surprised by how close they’re pushing Aaron Dingle to the brink but Monday night’s special episode took things to a new low. One that, despite its acting and merits of raising awareness, is hard to fully defend or understand.

To say Aaron’s always been a troubled character is something of an understatement. After all, this is the same lad that tried to commit suicide when he couldn’t cope with his sexuality, only for his very first romantic experience to culminate in his boyfriend being hit by a train and become paraplegic.

That wasn’t anywhere near the end of it and after years of hard-hitting plots, Aaron left for France and had a two year break from his miserable life. On his return in 2014 Emmerdale seemed to have struck a better balance between the extreme angst we’re used to in Aaron’s stories, and character development. He was much more sure of himself as a person, experienced lust, love and had escaped the shackles of his succession of torture storylines to find happiness.

There’s no denying that Aaron being put through the emotional wringer is down to Danny Miller’s exceptional performances which resonate so deeply with the audience and make Aaron a beloved character. But there comes a point where enough is enough, before this becomes too heavy to burden one character with and before you exhaust an audience into the worst possible outcome: apathy.

The prison storyline began as a heartbreaking split of two newlyweds and the freshness of Aaron’s short-lived happiness served to make this tragedy TV gold. Tearing apart your much-loved couple moments after they wed? It’s a classic story and one that gets the tear ducts going in the right way. Aaron’s happiness (and particularly with new husband Robert) is something viewers are hugely invested in and have waited for after – yes – even more years of character torture.

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What followed was a tough and claustrophobic display of the impact of homophobia in prison. A worthy and well-acted story and one which hasn’t been done before. It was especially poignant in light of how far Aaron has come in accepting his sexuality. The emotional impact of this alone would have served as an effective story, particularly combined with showing the effect on his loved ones in the outside world.

Unfortunately this is where the storyline began to spiral into a needlessly cruel territory, as prison top dog Jason discovered Aaron was the son and victim of paedophile Gordon and the sickeningly extreme torment drove Aaron to take the drug Spice. Why deal effectively with one topical prison issue when you can do three at once, eh?

There is a defence that argues it’s good that Emmerdale is highlighting these very real and very brutal realities in the prison system and while this might be true – the biggest question I have is why?

Not even a year ago, Aaron battled for justice against his father and reopened old wounds as he revealed he had been repeatedly raped as a child by him. On the whole the story was handled sensitively and despite dealing with horrifying issues, gave the audience a sense of hope for Aaron’s future. All along we saw Aaron’s support network come together, the arrival of his sister and a fresh start with Robert were huge beacons of light in a dark time. The storyline didn’t feel exploitative, particularly when it offered believable insight into Aaron’s lifelong struggles with identity and self-harm. But with this storyline came the opportunity to explore new directions with Aaron. Aaron was on a path of justice and recovery, with the audience optimistic that he would survive this fresh trauma, not as a new person, but a healthier and happier one.

And he was getting there (even without much-needed therapy), whilst still being a damaged man with multiple issues that continued to impact upon his relationships and mental health. As you’d expect for a character who had been abused as a child, he struggled with trust, insecurity and expressing emotion. But these were all believable facets to his character, all part of his character’s development – ones Emmerdale could use for conflict and drama when needed.

In a soap, where there is no end point in sight for a character unless an actor chooses to leave or the axe falls, characters need to develop, to grow. The best characters are ones that experience a diverse range of storylines and emotions. We all expect unhappiness, torment and conflict – it’s a soap after all – but in Aaron’s latest plot, it’s starting to feel that any progress and development made has been set back years as the torment mounts in prison.

Once more, Aaron has become Emmerdale’s tortured voodoo doll in a relentless and cruel way that veers between leaving many uncomfortable and some completely desensitised.

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It doesn’t just feel like Aaron’s character progression is being undone (when he had merely begun to recover from his traumatic past and not even a year since Gordon’s trial) but that the good work of the abuse storyline has been tarnished by effectively punishing and destroying the fragile psyche of a childhood rape survivor.

To me, it’s irresponsible and insensitive.

What makes matters worse is that is this only the beginning. Even when Aaron leaves prison, the ramifications of this story will last for many months. Believable? Yes. Watchable? Debatable.

Last night saw Aaron begin drug use and if you’re aware of spoilers you’ll know that Robert’s breakdown on the outside leads him to make a pass at Rebecca, a nightmare situation which would destroy an already broken Aaron. When part of Aaron’s only strength comes from his marriage, just how far are they going to push Aaron? And to what end? There comes a point where enough is enough, where unfortunately it begins to become a parody and lose all resonance.

It might be true to life, but TV is not just about the important tragedies of life, but entertainment, an escape. With Aaron’s light and happiness so rare and so fleeting, the balance is tipped and this stops being entertainment.

Aaron Dingle (and Danny Miller’s performances) are worth more than just a factory line of issue-based misery plots and I just hope Emmerdale haven’t fallen into a trap of exhausting and breaking the character beyond hope.

9 Reasons The Robron Wedding Was One Of The Best Soap Weddings Ever

In one of the most hotly anticipated soap weddings ever, Aaron Dingle and Robert Sugden finally tied the knot and in true unconventional Robron style. Despite their first ceremony being interrupted by the police, their special day was a romantic success – even with Aaron’s sentencing looming – so here’s a look at just some of the reasons why the Robron wedding was a treat.

References to the past

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Having been at the love game for well over two years, Robert and Aaron have a colourful history and the wedding episodes had some great references to their memorable past. Not only were these fun references to spot (and if you’re a hardcore shipper you’d be hard pressed not to get a kick out of lines such as “dirty little grease monkey”), but for two characters who’ve been on this rocky journey for a long time it felt fitting to have call backs to their significant moments – such as their familiarity with kidnapping and car boots! It was never going to be a conventional wedding for Robron so the garage setting, marking one particular milestone of their passionate affair, seemed so very right for them.

Fitting for the characters

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One of the most successful aspects to the Robron wedding was its unexpected and unconventional moments. It’s taken Aaron and Robert a long time to vocalise their feelings for each other, so having them perform their own marriage ceremony alone was a heartfelt and intimate moment one that could never be bettered by a formal or traditional ceremony. Ultimately the legality of it seemed meaningless because the commitment and sincerity of their vows shone through – even in the dimly lit garage setting! There’s never been a soap wedding in a car garage before but there’s no question that Robron managed to pull it off in their own special way. Their beautifully written vows highlighted the couple’s complicated issues and troubled past and there’s no question that this wedding was perfectly in keeping with their characters.

Satisfying romance

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Now that he’s stopped trying to cover his tracks in deadly plots, Robert Sugden has firmly established himself as a swoonworthy romantic hero. No complaints here. But what’s been a lovely and surprising development is Aaron’s growth as an out and happy (ish – well, it is Aaron) gay man. With his history of self-hate it was hard to imagine him ever being comfortable in a relationship, but with Robert, Aaron has found true contentment and the wedding was a heartwarming showcase of this growth. Not only did we see some serious heart-eyes and giddiness from him, we even saw him kiss, flirt and DANCE in public. When you grow up with soap characters it’s always satisfying to watch them come full circle, particularly with someone like Aaron whose had such a tragic life.

The emotion

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Like other great soap weddings, the Robron wedding wasn’t without its own drama but the main focus of the event and the episodes was the men’s love for each other and quite rightly, was just about the two of them. That being said, it wouldn’t be the Aaron and Robert we know and love without a twinge of tragedy. The final scene of the episode saw Aaron open up and find comfort in his new husband’s arms, both heartbroken that their happiness was soon to be taken from them. That poignant moment was bittersweet and made their earlier happiness even more significant. And what’s a wedding without a good cry, eh?

The performances

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I couldn’t write a list about the best bits of the Robron wedding without mentioning actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. We’ve seen Aaron and Robert deal with a whole spectrum of emotions and feelings towards each other from love to hate and everything in between but their chemistry skyrocketed this week as Aaron and Robert fully committed to each other. We’ve known for years that they nailed the passion of the affair and fraught moments of high drama but in the quiet intimacy of the wedding we saw the actors at their very best.

The Dingle décor

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It was a given that any wedding involving the Dingle family was going to cause chaos and even with Robert showing a touch of the Groomzilla, no one really listened to his request to keep the decorations looking simple. It wasn’t long before the Woolie looked like every season and holiday had vomited all over the bar and Robron were forced to walk up the aisle with snowmen, doves and grim reapers watching. And yet, while looking ridiculous and fun, the outrageousness kinda worked! It was great too having the little character touches – like Sam misunderstanding the request to bring empty jars and bringing full, pickle jars instead.

The mishaps

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With every great soap wedding comes disaster and for Robron, first of all it was the struggle of keeping Aaron away from the secret wedding. Initially it was Paddy, the naysayer who definitely did not want his surrogate son marrying “Mr Shifty”, but after a slight change of heart it was him and Adam (the self-titled “wedding champions”) who let Aaron loose. Oops. Cain happily stepped up to the plate and readily locked Aaron in the boot of his car. As Cain does best. But even with all that out the way, it was Granny Faith who caused the biggest issue when the police rocked up, leaving the ceremony in tatters after the brilliantly camp and soapy moment when she was accused of murder.

The gathering of family

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I love when events get the villagers gathered together or plots interlock and crossover. Well what’s better than a wedding for that? Not only did we have the Dingles and what’s left of the Sugdens (come back Andy!) and co together in one room, meaning a mish-mash of personalities and storylines, we also had the other plot lines running alongside the wedding, like Sarah’s illness, Kyle’s custody and Chas and Paddy’s ill-fated attempts at romance. It was great fun to see all those big characters in one room and in fun celebration scenes.

The laughs

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Despite tears being shed, there were plenty of laughs to be had at the wedding too. From Cain’s kidnapping, Faith’s theatrics, to the guests’ dance moves – there was a lot of fun to be had. Perhaps the best part of all had to be the Dingles ambushing poor Robert with their infamous welly of ale. As soon as the marriage was announced Zak stepped up with the boot to make Robert a proper part of the family, with the chants forcing him to drink from the welly. No crazy Emmerdale wedding would feel the same without some sort of weird tradition – only the Dingles could get away with it!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Winner of Britain’s Best Soap, Emmerdale is firing on all cylinders with some incredible storylines this year. I’ve already given a run down of the lowlights and my Top moments #20 to #11, but here’s my Top 10 moments in Emmerdale in 2016. Here’s to an ever better 2017!

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10. Andy’s exit

Everyone was shocked to hear that Kelvin Fletcher was leaving Emmerdale after twenty years of playing Andy Sugden and it still doesn’t feel quite right without him. With Chrissie on the warpath, Andy faced a bleak future of serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, made even worse when managed to break from his holding cell in court. Yikes. Sure, the whole escape fiasco was soapy and ridiculous but Andy’s emotional goodbyes with Bernice and brother Robert let Andy go out on a dramatic high. His final few episodes saw the Sugden brothers at their best – immature swipes at each other and a rocky history but ultimately full of love. Here’s hoping Andy doesn’t have to stay on the run forever!

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9. Remembering Edna Birch

Emmerdale legend Shirley Stelfox sadly passed away this year and Emmerdale honoured the iconic Edna Birch with a moving and fitting tribute. Ashley and Laurel returned with the upsetting news that Edna had passed, leading to a touching exploration of faith and friendship as Sandy in particular suffered with the news. The villagers gathered for her funeral and tried to find closure in their sad goodbye. There were some especially lovely scenes with Sandy and Ashley as they came to terms with her passing and left her infamous hat to float downstream on the river. Shirley and Edna will be sorely missed.

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8. Lawrence’s tragic past

We’d known since Lawrence’s arrival at the end of 2014 that he’d been imprisoned for homosexuality but it wasn’t until this year that the tragedy of his past had properly been explored. After marrying Bernice he seemed fairly content, even if he was unable and uninterested in being intimate with her, but that all changed when Chrissie’s paternity came into question and Ronnie Hale came on the scene. The scenes in which we learnt of Lawrence and Ronnie’s romantic past and Lawrence’s agonising prison torture were brilliant, giving us the insight into Lawrence background that had only been teased before. Hearing Lawrence talk about his love for Harold and the electric shock therapy he had suffered was a particularly poignant moment in this interesting story and one which reminded the audience of others who endured a similar background and was new ground for soap.

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7. Bernice’s doomed love life

This year saw Bernice cement herself as one of my favourite characters in the village with her glorious displays of laugh-out-loud comedy and tear jerking heartbreak. Having resigned herself to a sexless marriage last year, she battled with the reality of this when Lawrence wouldn’t admit to his past when former lover Ronnie returned to his life. The breakdown of her marriage and the pain of loneliness saw Bernice drunk drive a bulldozer into the Mill and later collapse in tears. Bernice had a horrible time of it and found comfort again in the arms of the man she pined for, Andy Sugden. It was an unlikely pairing but one with chemistry that had been bubbling for some time and besides, who doesn’t want to see Bernice happy? But with Andy on the run it couldn’t happen and Bernice was forced to let him go and team up with Robert to help bring down the Whites, giving us some hysterically memorable scenes of Bernice armed with clippers: “I WILL MAKE YOU BALD!!”

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6. Emma Barton

Love her or loathe her, Emma Barton has had one hell of a year on Emmerdale and we’ve finally seen her fulfil the potential that’s been brewing since day one. Earlier in the year, when Emma lied about having a life-threatening illness (but then quickly confessed) I had high hopes for what the year would bring, as long as they didn’t make her too cartoony. I’ve been thrilled with how things progressed and while there were real moments of OTT crazy in Super Soap Week (chicken blood on the wedding dress for one) all of Emma’s extreme behaviour comes from a very real place. Gillian Kearney stole the show in Super Soap Week as she made Emma’s psyche (all she wanted was for James to love her, jeez!) gripping viewing. Sure, viewers are frustrated and want the truth to come out, but seeing the cracks appear and the horrifying lengths she’ll go to in covering up the truth are just cementing Emma as a real favourite of mine.

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5. Aaron and Robert becoming a proper couple

For beloved couple Aaron and Robert, 2015 was all about sex, violence, murder attempts, more sex and misery, but by the end of the year the love between them was thin on the ground. This year, however, saw a huge turnaround for the characters and their relationship as Robert offered Aaron unwavering and unconditional support throughout his childhood abuse revelations and the trial. Aaron drew great strength and comfort from Robert’s presence and reassurance, and needed him in ways he couldn’t lean on his family. In Robert too, we saw a refreshing new side as Emmerdale toned down the panto and restrictive villainy (we don’t talk about the teeth incident) and let him become more human – showing a wealth of love and loyalty in Aaron’s plight. It’s a testament to Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry that they were able to rebuild Aaron and Robert’s rocky relationship into a love story rooted for by so many. As the year progressed and Robron reunited, it was a joy to see their mix of passion and affection grow into a family unit, becoming one of the show’s best couples and their romantic journey in Super Soap Week (leading to a proposal) was a massive highlight of the year. Bring on the wedding!

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4. Holly’s Death

I’ll admit I was filled with dread when I heard of Holly’s return and those first few months – as she got involved with lightweight gangsters, made a move on Cain and got involved with petty revenge on Charity – did little to endear her to me. However, as Holly fractured the Coira powerhouse and turned back to drugs, the performances from Sophie Powles and Natalie J Robb shone as some of the best in the show. It was gritty, brutal and showed how destructive drugs can be to a family. Sod’s law had it that just as I had begun to warm to Holly and was fond of her surprising relationship with Jai (JAI – I liked Jai!!!), Emmerdale pulled out the rug from under us and Moira found Holly dead in her bed. We’d all been expecting an exit, but none of us saw that coming so soon! There was something eerie and different about the episode’s opening that left everyone curious, but kudos to Emmerdale for pulling off a true shock. Once again viewers were treated to stunning performances and the weight of Holly’s death made a huge impact, not just in the fictional world, but also to viewers who saw the reality of drug addiction at its worst, even when a person appears to be happy and coping. This was another moment which saw Emmerdale soaring in 2016.

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3. Aaron’s childhood sexual abuse

Another incredibly powerful and emotive storyline of 2016 was the reveal that Aaron had been repeatedly raped as a child by his father, Gordon. Gordon’s arrival in December 2015 sent Aaron spiralling into self-harm, resulting in him collapsing from septicaemia and eventually confessing about his abuse to Robert. By then we’d already seen consistently impressive performances from Danny Miller, but this storyline surpassed all of those, as time and time again he delivered each heart-crushing moment with a rawness that sent shivers down spines. The storyline was grim, uncomfortable and sickening at times but the script and the actors never shied away from the horror of the story and offered outstanding performances from all the main actors involved. With justice being served in a satisfying way, and Aaron having hope for a happier future, it felt like an unnecessary twist to have Gordon commit suicide, but ultimately this storyline was tackled in a moving and truthful way and seemed a fitting backstory in light of Aaron’s adolescent struggles.

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2. Ashley’s dementia

Ashley’s dementia was an obvious highlight towards the end of 2015, but this year has really seen its progression and the deterioration, particularly in recent months, has been an affecting and ground breaking storyline. At the heart of this storyline, John Middleton has played every moment of heartbreak with nuance and a real understanding of the tragedy involved in dementia. Getting a long-term illness right in soap is a difficult business, when the realistic speed of illness can jar with a pacey need for dramatic twists but Emmerdale has struck the balance just right. At every turn, we’ve seen the wider impact on Ashley’s family (on his children and their behaviour, on Laurel’s alcoholism and struggle to hold everything together – with all of these featuring stellar acting), his identity and faith – as well as sitting alongside the soapier elements such as Emma’s big secret. Ashley’s special episode was a superb decision by the producers, giving the audience a ground-breaking insight into life from the perspective of someone with dementia and highlighted all the strengths of this hugely important storyline.

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1. Super Soap Week

Expectations were sky high for Emmerdale’s special week in October and as information and spoilers were drip-fed to us, excitement built. Surely it couldn’t be as good as we were hearing? Wrong! In breath-taking scenes, Emmerdale secured itself at the top of the soap game with a week that would be remembered as some of the best material in the soap genre. With each episode showing the same day from the perspective of different characters we had insight into characters in a way we’d never had before, allowing long scenes and meaty material showcasing the incredible talents of all the cast involved. For Emma Barton and Robert Sugden, these episodes offered real defining moments as the former reached her incredible and unnerving potential and the latter had his long awaited and important heart-to-heart about his bisexuality. The week had it all, like six blockbusters strung together – romance, comedy, horror, drama and action – and for the first time ever we got to see the Hotten Bypass! The episodes were shot with glossy film style cameras which gave the week a real movie feel and the epic stunts were jaw-dropping and awesome in the real sense of the word. The best thing about Super Soap Week is the way the stories interlinked and made everyone’s brains go into overdrive as we tried to piece the story together, meaning you had the urge to rewatch the episodes multiple times to pick up on all the details. It was truly unmissable and aside from the stunt (which was a huge spectacle in itself) the plot was driven by real character moments and a sense of jeopardy.

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2016

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Emmerdale had an INCREDIBLE 2016 winning awards left right and centre, but it can’t be flawless all the time. Later I’ll be continuing my countdown of the Top 20 Best Moments of the year, but here’s a brief look at the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016.

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6. David’s never ending proposals

David and Tracy’s relationship had a really tender beginning and I was fully on board, but when David rushed into proposing and Tracy eventually said no, he wasn’t going to let that be her answer. What followed was months of David trying to wear her down and bulldoze over her feelings by proposing in increasingly outlandish ways. Perhaps the intention was to be seen as funny and sweet but instead David just seemed like a bit of a creep, without respecting that Tracy thought it was too soon. By the time they finally got married, I was sort of beyond the point of caring and David hadn’t just worn me down, he’d made me reach the point of irritation.

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5. Jermaine and Belle’s affair

Ugh. That’s Jermaine and Belle’s affair summarised in one word. It wasn’t just due to the icky age gap and his professional status as a doctor, but the way this plot went on and on. Their sudden uncontrollable passion for each other never felt very believable and when the affair came out, Dr Bailey was quick to let Belle take the fall and say it was all in her head. Bastard! Unfortunately that wasn’t the end, as Belle tried to hang onto him by claiming to be pregnant and what followed was a harrowing breakdown plot for Belle as she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While Eden Taylor Draper’s performances were great, Belle’s visions of “Ellie” were just way too similar to last year’s story when Belle heard Gemma’s voice. Again we faced the oblivious Dingles and repetitive moments of Belle reacting to the voices and hiding this from everyone, which overshadowed the sensitive issues of the plot. Jermaine did stand by her and became more fun working behind the bar, but thankfully they’ve broken up now and we might get something different from Belle in the future.

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4. Kerry’s spiralling out of control

There’s been a noticeable shift in Kerry Wyatt this year and her goofy and loud comedy has been overtaken by a selfish nastiness, which has got worse in recent months since her relationship with Dan ended. Ever since Kerry sided with Joanie against the lovely Lisa, we’ve seen a colder and less loveable character meaning that when she is funnier, it doesn’t always have the right tone. Kerry can be sympathetic and she has had a rough time of it but her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace and towards others haven’t been a pleasure to watch. Instead of wanting to rescue Kerry from her bad decisions, there’s a greater feeling of wanting her to snap out of it and just stop this immature behaviour!

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3. The Whites vs everyone and each other

I have a very difficult relationship with the White family. I enjoyed Chrissie in camp bitch mode, I enjoyed Lawrence’s tragic backstory and I think Thomas Atkinson is a good performer, but as a family unit they’re still such a muddle with their motivations being unreadable or all over the place. Their position as antagonists in the village works to an extent but seems to go round in circles when it’s clear they will never be defeated. Watching the Whites vs the Sugdens is still as tedious as it was from the beginning when it looks obvious Andy won’t return and Lachlan won’t go down for Lawrence’s shooting. Lachlan as a character doesn’t work, since the lack of remorse and no real resolution to the sexual assault storyline makes his existence in the show uncomfortable and irredeemable; the Whites’ lack of any real connections in the village two years on from their arrival mean their interactions are limited and repetitive and often we’re left in an endless cycle of the same disputes, including the ones with each other.

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2. Rakesh’s money woes

Sorry Rakesh fans, but he has got to be the biggest soap bore of 2016. Okay, he might have had an eventful summer committing arson and insurance fraud in a bid to dig himself out of debt but that hasn’t made him any more interesting. Money plots rarely work on screen and watching Rakesh sweat as he lost it all just wasn’t dramatic or even emotional. Emmerdale even tried to go down the tragic backstory route but there’s just no intrigue or empathy to be found in Rakesh. He lacks any sort of charisma, he’s a dead weight around Priya’s neck and he’s dominated the show far too much this year. Now with Kirin gone there feels like even less of a purpose to him and I wouldn’t miss him if he had to leave the village forever.

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1. Cheating plots

If I could change two things from Emmerdale 2016, one would be less misogynistic writing (be it the way some female characters are written, how some female characters interact with each other or how men treat them without consequence) and two would be to cut down on the cheap cheating plots. Sure, cheating has been a soap trope since forever but this year has seen an unnecessary amount of “shock” kiss scenes used as a fast device for conflict and drama. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick (and probably incomplete) list: Moira/Pete, Nicola/Dan, Chrissie/Rakesh, Moira/James, Kerry/Ross, Rebecca/Robert, Bernice/Jimmy, Lisa/Zak, Laurel attempting to kiss Marlon, Holly attempting to kiss Cain, Ross attempting to kiss Victoria… Not only is it repetitive and lazy it’s a miserable viewing experience when you can’t rely on any stability between your favourite soap couples. We expect drama and conflict in relationships but with so many of the Emmerdale couples in tatters, don’t keep ruining every other couple with these endless cheating plot devices!