8 Emmerdale Wishes for 2020

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Happy New Year! We’ve hit the ’20s, and it’s time to ponder what wishes we have for another year of Emmerdale. I put the call out on Twitter too and thought about what I’d like to see, and here are my top wishes for Emmerdale in 2020.

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A Big Gripping or Issue Led Story

Emmerdale’s two biggest ‘issue’ stories of 2019 were Maya’s abuse of Jacob and Victoria’s rape, however both stories had their ups and downs meaning they weren’t always ‘must see’ TV. Emmerdale had consistently strong performances in 2019 and some interesting moments, but individual moments aside it all felt a bit pedestrian, what it lacked was a compelling story that made the show unmissable. Of course, their big story doesn’t need to be an awards-baiting, headline grabbing ‘issue’ story, but those are often the ones that inspire the biggest reaction and those that Emmerdale do so successfully. In 2020 I’d love to see something fresh for an unexpected character.

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Bolder Characters

Is it just me or were the newbies in 2019 all a bit dull? Sure, characters like Will and Al and Jamie all began with potential but any real personality soon seemed to drift away. They became moany and self-pitying, all carrying baggage and sob stories that knocked the edge out of them. In 2019 we lost some big characters with distinct personalities, characters like Bernice, Faith and Robert who were bold and sometimes divisive, handling both comedy and tragedy. If 2020 brings us any more new characters then I hope Emmerdale make some bold decisions and invent some striking personalities, not characters who begin strong and then become watered down and forgettable.

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A New Farming Family

It’s been disaster central at Butler’s Farm this year and it’d be no surprise to see the business in ruins considering Moira’s priorities last year! With Emmerdale using its rural setting more lately and with viewers keen to hold onto its farming roots, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to introduce a new farming focused family? Afterall, when the original Bartons started they injected new life into the show and helped maintain the countryside feel. Lately Emmerdale’s newcomers have been characters coming in alone, already having existing connections to current villagers, but a whole new farming family would be an interesting change and a return to Emmerdale’s roots.

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A Story for Gabby

It was an especially quiet year for Gabby Thomas in 2019 as she’s one of the most side-lined teens when it comes to stories. We’ve already seen what a capable actor Rosie Bentham is during the Ashley storyline but she hasn’t had much chance to shine of late. With Jacob taking on a huge story in 2019, it shows Emmerdale isn’t afraid of letting their younger actors take centre stage, so why not put Gabby forward for the next big story? There’s bound to be a fresh and contemporary story Emmerdale can tackle which would be perfect for her.

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Romance for Belle and Jamie

When Jamie Tate arrived in the village, for a while we thought he was young free and single. He started at the vets and immediately struck up a rapport with Belle. Some viewers saw sparks and predicted a new romance, but then Jamie’s wife and daughter (shock!) showed up. Jamie and Andrea’s relationship has taken a long time to gel but at the end of 2019 it’s on the rocks. With Belle for comfort and those old sparks revisited, viewers have been seeing chemistry again. Could these two be the next new romance? Could it be a slow burn? A forbidden will-they-won’t-they disrupting both families?

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Chas Gets her Spark Back

After a tragic 2018, it’s no surprise that 2019 was both a quieter and happier time for Chas. Most of the year was spent preparing for the birth of her new baby and also supporting Paddy through his trouble with Bear. Even though Chas has settled down these days, I can’t help but feel she’s been reduced to either the nagging whiney wife or an interfering mother and much of her fun spark has been lost. Isn’t it about time Chas got her mojo back? Had a bit of fun or got herself in trouble? It’s all become a bit serious and moany for Chas of late – it’s time for a change.

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A Big Villain

Kim grew a heart in 2019 and serial killers were so 2018, so who’s going to be Emmerdale’s next big villain? There was potential in Will and Al when they both arrived, so might either of them take a dark path? The next big bad doesn’t need to start digging graves any time soon but maybe it’s time we had a new love-to-hate villain to enjoy, bonus points if their descent to pure evil starts slow and leaves them unravelling and dangerous. A story where we get to see what makes the big bad tick would be good as that was a missed opportunity with Maya in 2019 – let’s really get to know them before we see their downfall.

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Continue Community Feel

I’ve loved the bigger community feel to Emmerdale over the past year so long may it continue. The more Emmerdale revels in its small village roots, the more effective the stories will be. This year we’ve had a murder mystery, a panto, a council election and more – but I’m still holding out for a village fete! Community gatherings means surprising interactions and story crossovers and that are a real treat for fans. Let’s see what the year brings!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2019. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10 – Jai and Laurel

Who could predict that one of Emmerdale’s latest favourite couples would be Jai and Laurel? This time last year we were finally free of the massively unpopular Laurel and Bob romance, but her new love with Jai has been a surprise hit. Early days for the pair was something of a sweet slow burn of crossed wires and a pretend kiss to get Jai out of a dodgy date, but now they’re finally together it just works. The actors have a good chemistry and their cuteness has been pretty sweet. Lately their merged family is under threat as Arthur cruelly bullies Archie – could this destroy Laurel and Jai’s relationship so soon? Hopefully not!

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9 – Vanity’s Engagement

2019 started in a hugely dramatic way for Vanessa and Charity when Vanessa was stabbed outside the pub by Lachlan’s dad Donny. After her brush with death, Charity was more convinced than ever of her love and decided to pop the question. What followed was a brilliantly humorous attempt by Charity to hijack an unsuspecting groom’s outlandish proposal at Home Farm to surprise Vanessa. Although it was classic Charity madness, Vanessa was less than impressed when she realised what Charity had done. Nevertheless Vanessa returned to Home Farm to hear Charity out and after some drunken rambling, the couple’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. This moment had everything – laughs, vulnerability and a great script. Will their wedding be as similarly funny and romantic when it happens?

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8 – The Immediate Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

I have some serious problems with how Vic’s rape story ultimately transpired but there’s no denying that the initial scenes in which Victoria revealed she’d been raped to Moira were outstanding. In the aftermath of Vic’s rape, Moira tried to help her understand she wasn’t at fault in any way with writing that deftly dispelled every myth and misconception surrounding the assault. Emmerdale made interesting choices in the beginning of the story, with Lee seemingly like the nice guy helping to walk Vic home before attacking her in her own home in brutal but effective scenes. The aftermath also featured stunning performances from the underused Isabel Hodgins and it’s a shame the story derailed so quickly.

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7 – Truth about Maya

It was the moment viewers were eagerly waiting for and when the truth about Maya came out, it was worth the wait. For months Maya had been grooming and seducing Jacob right under his family’s nose and after Liv’s discovery it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. The reveal took the centre stage of the Big Night Out episodes as Priya was the surprise witness to a kiss between the pair. The tension was delicious as Maya accepted a lift from Leyla, Tracy and Priya – although we had to wait a few weeks to find out what they’d actually done to her, suspecting she might be dead. The beginning of the end came with a gripping confrontation in the woods, but David learning the truth was equally compelling with a strong performance from Matthew Wolfenden and an uncomfortable but authentic range of emotions on display. With Maya and Jacob hiding out, there were some must-see twists and turns as the truth emerged, but disappointingly, the dramatic climax fizzled out and the conclusion of this story just didn’t live up to the gripping revelation.

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6 – Robert’s Exit

The end of 2019 also marked the end of Emmerdale’s most-shipped couple as Robron were torn apart due to the departure of Robert from the show. After his sister’s rape, Robert was unable to move past his need for revenge and when Lee’s torment of her continued, Robert saw red and hit Lee over the head with a shovel. For a while it looked like Robert’s charges would be minimal but things changed when Lee woke up and later died from his injuries. Facing the prospect of life behind bars, Robert went on the run, with Aaron by his side. With the desperate couple willing to sacrifice everything for their love, the reality of their future weighed heavily on Robert’s mind and he selflessly turned himself in, breaking Aaron’s heart in the process. Robert was sentenced to fourteen years inside and scheduled to be moved to the Isle of Wight and while Aaron was determined to hang onto their marriage, Robert made the crushing decision to cut all ties and allow Aaron to live his life. While Robert is a big loss to the show, Ryan Hawley gave some of his best performances throughout his exit and his exit managed to be both gripping and heart-breaking. Despite this story meaning the end of Robron, their epic love story was honoured in Robert’s final episode and the plot stayed true to their depth of feeling until the very end.

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5 – Flashback episodes

There was a real buzz around Emmerdale’s much promoted Big Night Out episodes, but the real excitement began just a few weeks later as we got to see what really happened during that fateful night. Flashbacks have been overdone in Emmerdale lately but withholding what really went down for two weeks was just the right time to keep things gripping and keep us all guessing. Of all the flashbacks Billy’s was the weakest but even that managed its own twists and give us glimpses of the other storylines in the background. The thrilling showdown between Maya and the trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya let to a brilliant blackly comic confrontation in a horror movie pursuit in the woods. Victoria’s strand was unsurprisingly the hardest to watch as what could have been a rom-com style episode had a horrific end, and knowing what was coming gave the episode an unbearable dread. Overall this was an exciting dose of episodes, giving Emmerdale back its must-see bite while these big stories played out.

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4 – Women’s Day Special Episode

Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day this year with an episode dedicated to the women of the Dales using a mostly all women crew too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warmth. Emmerdale managed to use almost its entire female cast, interacting in surprising ways and having a wonderful community, character driven feel. There was also a surprise inclusion of Lisa with the sad reveal she was dying, but despite this the episode still managed to be funny and full of heart, instilling a sense of confidence and strength in being a woman. An episode with ambitions like this made me even prouder to be an Emmerdale fan. And hey, if it pisses off the backwards likes of Piers Morgan and co then it’s doing something right!

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3 – The Mere Existence of Liam Cavanagh

If there’s one character who’s made Emmerdale 2019 a joy to watch then it’s Dr Liam Cavanagh. Not only has he shared a sweet and funny romance with Bernice (a relationship so right for their characters I was sad to see end), but in his own right he’s managed to be both charming and laugh out loud funny. This year highlights have included his painfully awkward encounter with Cain, the discovery that he loves murder mystery roleplay – leading to a hilarious misunderstanding where Bernice thought he was a murderer – and of course his adventures in costume from the sheriff to the panto’s Farmer Christmas. Although Liam has lost his love, there’s potential with Leyla, but also his relationship with daughter Leanna and colleague Manpreet to explore. Liam’s the sort of character that easily feels at home in the village (he even made Bear briefly watchable) and Jonny McPherson’s natural charisma and comedic timing, he’s a character who consistently puts a smile on your face. If I could only make one wish for 2020, it would be more Liam!

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2 – Lydia’s past

There was one stand-out star of 2019 and that was Karen Blick as Lydia, effortlessly taking Lydia from kooky oddball with a big heart from tragic matriarch of the Dingles. This year we learnt more about Lydia’s tragic past, revealing that she had taken on a false identity and was really named Jenny Finn. As the remains of a baby were found by the school, Lydia turned herself into the police revealing she had buried her stillborn child there and kept it a secret all this time. Karen Blick’s performances were nothing short of incredible and together with Sam, they were the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown this year. This story not only made Lydia more loved, but it also strengthened the bond between the couple. Giving Lydia this fleshed out backstory offered a believable explanation for her personality and the material, never short of gut-wrenching, proved what an incredible performer Karen Blick is. With the question of Huntingdon’s disease playing on her mind, I hope 2020 continues to give Karen the material she deserves.

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1 – Lisa’s death

We lost a real Emmerdale legend this year as Lisa Dingle passed away suddenly. We had only just seen her back in the village and in her rightful home when we lost her for good, after a warm and nostalgic big Dingle celebration. Lisa’s death was understated and fitting, following a sentimental wedding for her and Zak, which even featured classic Emmerdale band The Woolpackers. Despite Lisa’s death being a surprise to many viewers, we should have guessed Lisa’s time back in Wishing Well was limited considering her return almost felt like a goodbye tour. When her family came home to find her dead, there were impressive scenes as they grieved and supported each other. The aftermath was moving as it panned over their homestead and the funeral was a fun and quirky affair with pig races. Lisa also left behind letters for her family which told them what they needed to hear and was a fitting end for the matriarch of the family. The Dingles haven’t quite felt the same without her, but her final episodes were a beautiful tribute to her treasured character.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2019 and Happy New Year!

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2019

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It’s been a divisive and controversial year of Emmerdale stories where big plots have had their ups and downs. Kim had a dodgy first few months settling back into the village and we lost nice guys Matty and Ryan to some dodgy toxic masculinity which came as a big blow to their popularity. Then there were characters who started with real promise like Billy and Will and Jamie, who then turned out just to be a bit dull.

But those aside, what were the worst moments overall in 2019?

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6 – Joe – dead or alive?

It feels like a long time ago now, but for the first few months of 2019, everyone was still banging on about what happened to Joe Tate. Viewers were left wondering if he was alive or murdered by Graham, while Cain and Debbie were torn apart with Cain believing he killed Joe with a single punch. Come March it was revealed Joe is in fact alive, but after all that ambiguity the climax was as flat as a pancake. Ned Porteous made a cameo only in photographic form (which screamed hasty rewrite) and disappointed many who were begging for his return. This story also meant the torment Cain went through was for nothing, it meant Graham’s agony and spiral into drink about ending the life of his best friend came from just letting him free, and Kim’s murderous intent fizzled into nothing. The Joe, Graham and Kim business was a muddled mess anyway but as we continued to watch Kim and Graham interact, the confusing backstories and rivalries made even less sense. Thankfully since Joe was revealed to be alive, everything has been brushed under the carpet and it felt like a weight lifted – phew!

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5 – Kerry and Amy

Chances are if you were watching Emmerdale in the summer, two of your most hated characters would have been Kerry and Amy. After splitting with Dan and reuniting with Amy, there was promise for Kerry and after all, she was one of the few highlights of the Amelia story last year. Then came a sudden and contrived dilemma from Amy – she needed money and fast. Kerry cooked up a plan to break into the factory and steal the charity money. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they eventually started a fire which destroyed the factory and killed Frank. Not content with those crimes, Kerry implicated Frank and then cosied up to Tracy to assuage her guilt. For over a month they kept their crimes secret, with minimal guilt beyond Amy’s repetitive “I feel terrible” refrain. After a showdown with Tracy, Kerry hit her head and was hospitalised and there was an attempt to say that this was her payback rather than actually owning up to the truth. With neither character leaving its no surprise that there was no confession and now, months on, it’s all been glossed over. Frustratingly however, Kerry and Amy’s attitudes and behaviour were so unlikeable and manipulative it might have sullied them for good. They were downright unpleasant to watch and if we were meant to feel sorry for them, it failed. Can we really laugh along with Kerry when there was no comeback for what she did to Tracy and Vanessa?

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4 – Maya anti-climax

Maya’s grooming and abuse of Jacob was Emmerdale’s biggest and most controversial story of 2019. It benefitted from moments of great high tension and suspense – particularly during the reveal of her behaviour in the Big Night Out episodes – and some solid performances. Louisa Clein especially was wickedly manipulative and the character deserved to go out with a big finale. Unfortunately though, justice for Jacob and a comeuppance for Maya was sorely lacking. Rather than the abuse be treated in the same vein as say Charity and Bails or Aaron and Gordon, with a victory for the victim and a satisfying (albeit unrealistic) sentence, Maya wasn’t even tried for the actual crimes she committed, but a lesser charge. In the lead up to her exit, Emmerdale told a muddled story with lines of dialogue that sounded like she and Jacob were some forbidden love story and with-holding his realisation that she abused him for months. Granted, the sentencing and Jacob’s reaction might be more true to life, but it didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion. By the end of the story, it was going in circles without any sight of a police enquiry or anything resembling a shocked response from the villagers. The teens were absent, as was Jessie, who all should have been playing key roles. The impact was completely wasted and with only the Metcalfe clan effected, it suffered from repetitive scenes and a really flat ending.

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3 – Bear Wolf and the Wrestling

We all know when it comes to humour, it can be really hit and miss. But a real low of Emmerdale in 2019 was the character of Bear Wolf and his excruciating wrestling shenanigans. After Mandy’s brief return at the start of the year, Paddy’s paternity was in question and he went looking for his biological father, an infamous wrestling letch known as Bear Wolf. I’m not convinced Paddy needed any big family discovery story and certainly not one that involved such a loathsome and unfunny character, but his quest took him as far as Belfast. Anytime wrestling was involved, it was an embarrassment to watch, laboured and painful at times. On paper the hilarity of a grown man in a wig and a costume calling himself Bear Wolf might have sounded comedy gold but the reality was one of the worst moments of 2019. Since those scenes Bear has toned down and has all but slotted right into Paddy’s family and you can just about forget how woeful his introduction was.

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2 – Mishandled Rape Aftermath

The immediate aftermath to Victoria’s horrifying rape was Emmerdale at its best. However, what followed has been misjudged and uncomfortable viewing with poor Victoria used as a passive torture victim in her own storyline. Victoria has had barely any agency in this story beyond the odd line of empty dialogue and at times the writing for her has been horrible, even seeming to side with her rapist over her brother. Tying in this story with Robert’s exit meant repetitive scenes of the siblings reaching an understanding, only for Robert to interfere, and the constant harassment by Lee and Wendy without contacting the police meant Vic’s decisions often bowed to the cogs of the plot, rather than narrative choices which empowered her. Now with Wendy in the village acting like a victim, the framing of the story is all wrong and continues to force Vic to live in the constant hell of what Lee did to her. She didn’t get justice, and still she’s continuously punished. This story quickly derailed and given Emmerdale’s successful history of handling rape stories with sensitivity and care, it’s been an even bigger disappointment. It also felt an especially cruel choice to give a character who always wanted to be a mother a baby in such terrible circumstances. Victoria deserved better than this.

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1 – Nate and Moira affair

Without question the worst story of 2019 was Moira and Nate’s affair. Not just was this story loathed by fans but it dragged on for months and tarnished its main characters in the process. Cain and Moira had a rough start to the year, but even that couldn’t begin to explain why Moira’s head was turned by the new and creepy farmhand who had less personality than a stack of hay bales. Cain and Moira’s turbulent marriage might not have worked the same since their split and reunion in 2018, but they were loved by viewers and Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry was unmatched. So why trash it? Emmerdale followed a predictable path of Moira cheating with Mills and Boon style romps in the barn, but with sub-zero chemistry, all it did was remind viewers of Moira’s scorching fling with Cain way back when. With Moira’s weak motivation to cheat, the story threw her character under the bus, jeopardising her marriage and family for nothing, all the while viewers suffered through week upon week of supposedly sexy hook ups and on-off arguments. As for Nate, viewers long suspected he had ulterior motives but with no hints that he had a mission in mind, he came across as vapid and dull, but when he revealed himself as Cain’s son we were supposed to become suddenly interested just because he was Cain’s. Alas, it did not magic him an engaging personality. Even with a clunky backstory for his mother and Cain, sympathy was thin on the ground. In an attempt to make Nate likeable and fit in Emmerdale have now framed Nate as the lonely victim and he’s even won round the Dingles, as for the audience? Jury’s out.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a year that saw big exits, shock deaths and the end of Emmerdale’s two biggest couples, 2019 had lots of surprising moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20 – Nicola’s Rise and Fall

Way back at the beginning of 2019, Nicola and Robert put their efforts into scamming Home Farm out of shed loads of cash. After that backfired, Nicola had a lot of making up to do with both her husband and the villagers she’d betrayed. Nicola’s acid tongue doesn’t always earn her many friends or fans, but there were some fun comedy moments in this story (like when she took Bernice hostage) and touching family moments too. The year got better for her when she got selected for the council – in a role completely perfect for her character – and we got to see her back on top. Nicola and Jimmy continue to be one of Emmerdale’s best and most believable partnerships and here’s hoping they both get good material in 2020.

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19 – Old School Feel

If there’s one noticeable improvement to Emmerdale this year then it’s the return to an old school feeling. Emmerdale’s USP in the soap world has always been its rural setting but in recent years that’s faded into the background. This year however there’s been a return to its roots with more farming and outdoors shots, Kim on her horses, and community events like the village panto. There’s still so much potential in exploring the dramas of a country village that I hope next year continues to make the most of the show’s unique setting.

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18 – Cain Learns the Truth

In October, an explosive secret was revealed when Cain learnt Moira had been having an affair right under his nose with farm hand Nate. It had been a challenging year for Cain, who had been bogged down in the Joe dead-or-alive storyline for months but his reaction to the Moira/Nate reveal was satisfyingly explosive. The best thing about Cain though is not just his avenging efforts (which this year ended up on a boat, implausible and outlandish and arguably too contrived for a punch-happy bloke like Cain) but his range of emotions. Cain’s pain and fury played out below his seething surface and Jeff Hordley’s performances ultimately are the reason he’s so popular. However unpopular the Moira and Nate fling was, Cain’s immediate reaction was one of the most gripping of the year.

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17 – Mandy’s Return

One of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters returned this year in the form of Mandy Dingle. Never far from chaos, Mandy’s first reappearance was far too brief but teasing enough that made viewers hope for a longer return. Later in the year she was back, scamming money from her family and revealing her part in a big casino heist and with son Vinny holding secrets of her own, there’s clearly more to come. Mandy’s return has been an injection of fun and nostalgia and she feels right at home at Wishing Well, even forming a great new bond with Lydia. It’s unclear how long she’s sticking around but there’s something comforting about her presence in the Dingles that makes me wish she’d stay for good.

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16 – Liv’s Jacob Discovery

It’s fair to say it’s been a hellish year for Jacob as he was groomed by Maya but the story as a whole was patchy. However one of the best parts of the story involved the addition of Liv, and running the Jacob plot alongside her exploration of her identity was an interesting choice. While Emmerdale haven’t put the asexual label onto Liv’s identity yet, she progressed further in the vocalisation of her feelings this year, leaning on Aaron and Robert for support. Making her the first person to discover Jacob’s relationship with Maya was a great twist making an already complex story more layered and gripping as she blackmailed the evil teacher too. Isobel Steele continues to portray Liv with real vulnerability and I hope, given the big topics thrown at her – drinking problems, asexuality, seizures – Emmerdale chooses one and gives it the focus it deserves.

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15 – Kim Finds Her Place

After Kim’s brief and divisive return in October 2018, fans were nervous about her permanent role in Emmerdale. Would it work? Would Kim be too panto? Her initial months in Emmerdale were met with apprehension. At first, bogged down with the bloated and retconned history of Graham and Joe it seemed as if Kim had been reimagined as a soulless mob wife, sending out hits and grimly trying to  blackmail Cain to sleep with her. It was an uncomfortable watch, but there were glimmers of hope. As Kim started to integrate and they dropped the Joe storyline there were signs they had plans for her beyond a cartoon villain. Eventually Home Farm reformed, and Kim reunited with son Jamie and met her granddaughter Millie and through all of this – and a friendship with Rhona – she found a heart. While the Tate household has not always been engaging to watch, Emmerdale have finally got the balance right with Kim, she’s both a great foe for the villagers but she’s more than just a campy “soap bitch”.

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14 – Manpreet Settles In

This year Manpreet moved into the village and cemented herself as a regular character by marrying Rishi and giving the Sharma family a more serious focus. Manpreet is a breezy fun character and a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than someone destined for extreme behaviour. She slotted in well to the village, both with the family and with her doctor role, which isn’t always easy for new characters to do. Rebecca Sarker is a really natural actress and her issues with money gave Manpreet a depth and even a little bit of a dark side. Manpreet helped lift the Sharmas out of their comedic rut and she’s been a little gem of a character with much more to her than meets the eye. Can’t wait to see what else they do with her in 2020.

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13 – Bob’s Homelessness

Cast your mind way back to January 2019 and you might remember that Bob was at the centre of one of Emmerdale’s most emotional stories. After the end of his disastrous romance with Laurel and struggling for money, it was a bleak Christmas for Bob. By January he was sleeping rough, struggling for food and so very isolated. After Harriet found him suffering from hypothermia, Bob was hospitalised and the truth came out to friends and family. Bob’s story was sensitively told and a timely reminder of how quickly a situation like his can escalate. Unfortunately Emmerdale skimmed over the aftermath and Bob is back, full of life, in the pub. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs but this was such a strong story that it feels like a missed opportunity.

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12 – Bernice’s exit

In a year of high profile exits, Bernice’s departure was one of the most poignant. Despite the unfortunate way it was squeezed into just two episodes, it was fitting and emotional that just as Bernice’s happy ending was within her clutches, she had to sacrifice it. Bernice’s exit story gave her that moment of growth and self-reflection. Her final episodes were the perfect blend of humour and serious emotion, giving her a great send off. She was a character like no other and she’ll be sorely missed – here’s hoping for a return one day!

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11 – Tracy after Frank’s death

Tracy was my stand-out star of 2018 with Amy Walsh delivering exceptional performances during the storyline that explored her past as a sex worker and split with David. This year Tracy was dealt a massive blow when her dad Frank died in the factory explosion and Amy Walsh continued to impress as one of Emmerdale’s best actors. As the question of the real culprit remained a mystery for a while and blame fell to Frank, Tracy’s determination to find the true thieves intensified leading her finally to the satisfying showdown with Kerry. As Tracy cycled through a range of emotions it was another masterclass from the brilliant Amy Walsh. What will the next year bring for Tracy?

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2019.

9 Reasons Emmerdale’s 90s plane crash is still great TV – and what tips can modern episodes take?

Earlier this year ITV3 gave long term Emmerdale fans a real treat by airing classic episodes of the show weekday afternoons. Starting in 1989 as the Tates arrived and made their mark on Home Farm, the classic episodes have been a great watch for old and new fans alike.

Recently the infamous 1993 plane crash aired, an event which changed Emmerdale forever, and currently airing 1994 episodes, ITV3 viewers are reliving the aftermath. The plane crash was a huge event for Emmerdale and for the soap genre, but those who watched it on ITV3 recently will know it still stands the test of time.

So what made the plane crash so good? And what could modern day Emmerdale take from its success? Here are a few of its successes that would benefit any big modern-day stunt.

1. Losses that impact almost everyone

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h32m10s283.pngFor its time, the plane crash had a huge death toll. These days in soap a big death count can often feel like a desperate ratings grab rather than something with purpose, but the key to the deaths after the 1993 crash were their overall impact. Each death had a ripple effect on almost every family, rather than just shock value and meaningless casualties.

Kim Tate lost her horses, later leading to an emotional breakdown over her guilt for grieving when she hadn’t lost a family member; the Sugdens lost Leonard (Annie’s husband) and Mark (Joe’s stepson) – affecting Rachel and Joe’s relationship in particular;  Lynn lost her house; Elizabeth Pollard’s death impacted her children and husband Eric; and Archie – a friend and babysitter to Nick and Lynn and Seth’s dear pal.

Deaths like Archie and Mark felt particularly cruel – good guys in the wrong place, at the wrong time – and Elizabeth’s demise triggered a whole new path for Eric as he tried to evade Michael’s suspicions that he’d murdered Elizabeth. I don’t know if these characters were chosen for the chop because they were unpopular or seen as easy fodder, but the impact of their deaths ricocheted around the village. Compare that to say, the death of sweet natured Ruby in 2015’s helicopter stunt, whose – despite working for years in the café – only managed to bother the Spencer unit.

2. A long-lasting aftermath

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h28m58s883Weeks on from the plane crash and the aftermath of the disaster was still being felt in Emmerdale. Not just in the injuries and destruction and characters reacting to the trauma, but longer-term problems arising.

Journalists, interfering tourists, insurance issues, job loses – the aftermath managed to create stories of its own. While the night of the crash itself spanned three episodes, giving the scenes an unbearable claustrophobic tension, the aftermath continued for weeks, with Annie Sugden not waking from her coma until April 1994!

With modern day Emmerdale airing six episodes a week, there’s plenty of opportunity to prolong the tension of a life-changing stunt. Keep those characters in peril a little longer and make that stunt count!

3. Life changing injures

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h30m18s392One of Emmerdale’s biggest shock moments after the plane crash has got to be the discovery of Chris Tate in the rubble of the wine bar. Episodes later his father, Frank Tate, would learn that Chris’s injuries meant he would never walk again. Long term fans will know Chris best as the bitter, wheelchair using businessman. No miracle cures for Chris! This was a huge change for the character and one rarely seen in soap these days.

Granted, the explosion at Mill Cottage in 2016 saw Nicola’s arm become paralysed and it took three years for some soapy magic physio to give her arm back its movement, but that’s the closest recent Emmerdale has come to a long-term injury. Even the victims of the Hotten Bypass were up and about within a few episodes, and Debbie escaped the helicopter crash without much more than a scratch. If Emmerdale are prepared to take the risk of a long term injury, then that would raise the stakes and create interesting future storylines.

4. Impact on the children

Emmerdale 1st February 1994 - YouTubeTrauma rarely affects kids in soaps, which is probably a good thing considering how dramatic their everyday lives are. Even now, two years on, Emmerdale has just begun a story about Arthur’s trauma following his dad’s death, but what about someone like Kyle, caught up in the helicopter crash of 2015?

In 90s Emmerdale the children also felt the impact of the plane crash, even though some of them weren’t directly involved. There was little Robert, crying because of his fears that the school was haunted by the bodies of the deceased, young Alice trapped under the rubble for days, Scott wetting the bed and drawing violent cartoons – even needing counselling.

Getting the children involved is a great way to widen the effects of the stunt and gives it that authentic feel. With a modern cast full of great young actors, trauma is definitely worth exploring.

5. Real world grounding

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h35m26s168As mentioned above, the great thing about the Emmerdale plane crash in the 90s was the way they made it feel so real. It wasn’t just a stunt taking place in its own little bubble. There were news crews, radio reports, even tourists coming to look at the damage.

In more modern times Emmerdale have made use of real ITV news presenters and that adds to an impressive impactful feeling. When big and explosive stunts cause death and destruction it seems only right it should be grounded with an “outside” perspective of the real world and not just something that affects a small few in the village.

6. Helpful new characters

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h27m25s524It’s always tricky introducing new families into a soap, especially when familiar characters and families are so beloved. During the plane crash, Emmerdale had recently introduced the very middle-class McAllister family and Londoner family the Windsors were still bedding in.

Bernard McAllister was able to offer his help as a doctor and the Windsors were right by Kim’s stables when they went up in flames. These scenes made the newcomers both useful and heroic, giving them real purpose and embedding them into the village community. Rather than it feeling like these characters were used just to make them likeable and putting them in danger for that reason, it worked instead to throw them into the action from early on. Could this be a good method of introducing new families in future?

7. Missing characters with fates unknown

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h26m26s787With the aftermath of the plane crash spread over multiple episodes, there were lots of questions from both characters and the audience. Not every villager was accounted for – some were missing, injured and some we just hadn’t seen.

There was something especially exciting not knowing the fates of certain characters. There was Seth, for example, missing and not seen for days – most of the villagers assumed he was dead. Chris, whose shock reveal came days later, Nick, who the audience had seen blinded and wandering the moors alone looking for Archie, Mark whose watch was found before his body.

With the mix of characters in the dark and the audience left in suspense, this was a clever way of keeping the stakes high. Much like the way Emmerdale left us wondering which of the three Bypass crash characters were going to die, but on a much larger scale, perhaps future stunts shouldn’t rush to give us the whereabouts of missing and injured characters.

8. Mystery and panic

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h28m43s640Disasters and stunts set at night always have more of a dramatic feel to them. Visibility is poor, characters get lost and confused and panicked and generally there is more danger. An aspect of the plane crash that worked successfully was the mystery involved. Only as time passed and debris emerged did the villagers even know a plane had crashed.

The characters were drip fed information through finding parts of the plane and tension was high thanks to there being blockages in the road, confusion and the power being down. It’s not every day you can crash a plane on a village, but adding more darkness and confusion to a disaster like this could be a great way of increasing tension.

9. The redemption of “bad” characters and morally grey actions

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-15h25m58s913Life-changing disasters are a good way to make character reassess or have a change of heart and we’ve seen this plenty of times in modern episodes too.

During the plane crash we saw Frank Tate take charge to try and rescue the trapped and injured and he even found a dead baby – a grim detail that shook Frank to the core. The crash bought Frank and Kim back together again and managed to soften him into someone who was more than just a cold-hearted tycoon.

But the plane crash didn’t bring out the good side of everyone. Attention grabbing Lynn Whiteley tried to take the limelight and sold sob stories about the victims to the papers and bitter and estranged young mum Elsa tried to use Nick’s injuries against him in the battle for custody of their daughter. Almost every character – even those who weren’t personally involved – was plunged into a story that was related to the aftermath, or affected by the plane crash, and that’s exactly what huge stunts should be used for – maximum consequences, maximum drama

So, a plane can’t crash into the village every year, there can’t be a headline grabbing jaw-dropping explosion each October, but current Emmerdale can take the best elements of the aftermath, even in a small way to increase the impact of the stunts they do choose to run with.

5 Things About Classic Emmerdale Current Emmerdale Could Learn From

If you’ve been watching (or rewatching) classic Emmerdale on ITV3 in the afternoons then you’ll have seen a few differences between the Emmerdale of then and the Emmerdale of now. While the TV and soap landscape has changed significantly since the 1980s and we’re lucky enough to get 6 episodes a week, there are a few elements of the classic episodes that would improve the modern day show we know and love. Here are just a few of them.

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More Farming

Emmerdale might have lost its “Farm” tag in 1989, but farming and the countryside was still a huge part of the show in the late 80s and 90s, as seen in the repeated episodes of this time. Farming and the rural setting is Emmerdale’s USP and these days is a really under utilised aspect. Fans enjoy the novelty of seeing animals on screen but it shouldn’t be such a rarity for a countryside show. Time has moved on and the village is a lot less about farming than it used to be, but there are still the Dingle pigs and Butler’s farm – and even the vets could get involved now and again. No one wants every storyline about sheep, but as shown in the classic episodes, farming issues can really affect the standing and reputation of a family in a small community. Farming was at the heart of the village once and it’s a shame it’s taken such a huge backseat. Characters are rarely seen at work in current episodes, and whether they’re farming or in another industry, a few more grounded stories wouldn’t go amiss.

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A Gossip Behind the Bar

One of the most iconic Emmerdale characters of the past has to be Woolpack landlord Amos, with his huge wiry sideburns. A long running comedy storyline about a village play might not go down all that well in modern times, but I reckon there’s a warmth and nosiness to Amos sorely lacking in Emmerdale as it stands. Sure, we do have our gossips – like Brenda, Faith or the rarely seen Pearl – but since losing Betty no one quite has that busy-body inquisitiveness like Amos. Not only is Amos a gossip, but he’s also in prime position behind the bar and has a journalistic background meaning he just can’t help himself in asking endless questions. Can we recruit someone to be the new gossip, or how about an older newbie for the village?

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More Outside Scenes

One of the biggest surprises in watching classic Emmerdale is just how regularly characters are filmed out and about. It’s not just in the village or on the various farms, but around the huge grounds of Home Farm and even in town around the streets. Sure, it’s a bigger expense and complication to film on location but it creates a feeling of authenticity to see the villagers in other streets, towns or even the shops. In scenes that aired recently on ITV3 you had Kim and Zoe Tate walking the streets, outside shops, and Jack Sugden working at a chippie. We’d never get that these days! With Home Farm set to become a bigger deal when Kim returns here’s hoping we’ll see more of the grounds too and not just that ugly kitchen!

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A Bigger Home Farm Divide

Speaking of Home Farm, one of the most significant differences you notice watching classic episodes of Emmerdale is the huge differences in class, wealth and power that Home Farm has. In the older episodes the Tates had control of the estate and their ownership of properties, farm and land had a huge impact on the day to day lives of the villagers. The villagers were suspicious of new owners in case it impacted upon their lands and homes, but for some a job working for the house was sought after. The Tates also were wealthy enough to hire a housekeeper, a gardener and their house and grounds were treated a lot more like a business than it currently is. Recently it seems like they’ve tried to get back to this arrangement in current episodes, as Graham has tried making villagers homeless, but as it stands Home Farm is aimless and the business side of things is vague. Perhaps current Home Farm needs a bit more of the classic country estate feeling, increase the wealth and power divide and make the “little people” more nervous about their future.

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Women Who Stand Their Ground

When it comes to powerful women and stories of female characters having agency, Emmerdale can be a bit hit and miss. The same can probably be said of classic Emmerdale too, but there’s something about the ambition and forthright nature of the women in the classic Emmerdale episodes that’s really appealing. Whether it’s Zoe Tate’s confident approach to her veterinary research, the legendary “Ma” Sugden presiding over the farm, or the bolshie Sarah Conolly giving Jack a list of rules before she moves in – these women are head-strong and determined, carving out their own lives. It’s good to see female characters in roles beyond just being mothers, love interests or bitches, by giving them passions and opinions too.

9 Emmerdale Wishes for 2019

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We’ve just begun a shiny new year and it’s the perfect time to ponder what storylines or changes we’d like to see for Emmerdale in 2019. I had a good think, I asked on Twitter and here are my Top 9 wishes for Emmerdale in 2019.

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Backstory for Vanessa

Since becoming Charity’s girlfriend, we’ve seen a lot more of Vanessa but it would be nice to see more of her in her own right. Besides dad Frank we know very little about Vanessa’s family and past. Isn’t it about time someone from Vanessa’s past was introduced, or why not meet her mum? If the rumours are true and a Vanity wedding is on the cards then this is the perfect time to explore more about Vanessa.

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Show Some Success

Whether it’s a business going under, a plan going awry or exams being failed, we’ve seen a lot of failure over the years. Characters can’t always been happy and winning, but I think it’s about time someone had some good luck. 2018 saw Tracy start a new business and it would be great to see ambition pay off. Then there are characters like the Kings who haven’t been high-flying for years. Nicola is someone always looking for a bigger and better life – why not have her reach a level of success? And if the soap gods work their magic, maybe she and Jimmy realise that it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be!

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Big Stories for Coira and Robron

Two of Emmerdale’s biggest and most beloved couples reunited last year but since then their storylines have been bitty. Cain and Moira had Matty, Debbie and Graham to contend with, while Robert and Aaron supported their sisters and Rebecca through their big stories. But what next for the two big couples? Cain and Moira spent a lot of the year apart on screen so something that unites them and repairs the distance of their time apart would be good. For Robert and Aaron in their first year of married life, a story that changes the dynamic between them would be interesting to see – it’d be good to see Aaron getting in on the schemes for once! Whatever the stories ahead for both couples, it seems obvious that viewers just want to see more of their favourite couples together in great stories!

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More Village Gossip

Since losing characters like Betty and seeing less of comedic gems like Pearl, the village has been missing that key ingredient: gossip. Community is a huge part of village life and it was great to see more of that in 2018 but it’s not just parties and events that could tie characters and stories together – it’s also villagers having a natter about what else is going on the village! There’s plenty of scandal and drama along Main Street so there’s ample opportunity for big-mouthed characters to stick their oar in.  

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A Funny Feel Good Wedding

Happy weddings are a rare event for soap, but I’d love to see a wedding in 2019 for a fun loving couple. There’s Sam and Lydia, Faith and Eric or even new couple Liam and Bernice. These are genuinely funny, heart-warming couples who deserve a special day – and you just know the weddings would be full of laughs. It doesn’t all have to be disasters and slapstick, but imagine Lydia’s dance routine or Bernice going Bridezilla. And there’s always room for a classic soap twists and turns – let’s just see the villages having a good time.

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No More Special Episodes

I’ve loved Emmerdale’s attempt to reinvigorate the soap genre with special episodes, flashbacks and episodes that really dig deep into a character’s psyche. But now I think it’s time to give those kinds of episodes a rest and stick to good quality, linear storytelling. The more special episodes are made the less unique they get. Save them for when they really matter, Emmerdale!            

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Keep Kim 3D

My biggest wish for 2019 is that Emmerdale make the most of Kim’s return and don’t turn her into a caricature. Kim is an iconic Emmerdale soap bitch, but she’s not just a campy villain and I hope that when she returns the writers won’t lose sight of that and tarnish the fond memories viewers have of her original tenure. Keep Kim grounded, with flaws and vulnerabilities and that way her one-liners and sharp attitude will keep Kim at her best.

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Give Jai and Priya Something Gritty

2018 was a complete waste of the Sharmas. Priya briefly struggled with her mental health but that was glossed over quickly and Priya joined the rest of the family for silly sitcom subplots. Jai and Priya have a great sibling relationship and have been on the side-lines for ages so I think it’s about time they had a great, emotionally testing story.

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Reinvent Debbie Dingle

Oh Debbie, where to begin? She might be seen as the leading lady of the Dales, but unfortunately Debbie’s stories (and her personality) need a rethink. We’ve explored the same old ground for her when it comes to her love life and there isn’t much that manages to raise a smile. Even when she does something dark and reckless (like the acid attack story) her family manage to treat Debbie as a victim. With Joe gone and the truth about to be revealed, it’s time to shake Debbie up and give her something to do that we’ve not seen before. Could Emmerdale explore her bisexuality again? Give her a new friendship? A new job?

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2018 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2018. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10. Bernice and Liam

Three of Emmerdale’s best decisions in 2018 were these: making dishy Dr Liam Cavanagh a full-time cast member; Bernice ditching dull Daz and finally, making Liam and Bernice a couple. In just a short time, Bernice’s giggling crush on Dr C turned into a mutual attraction and the pair were carrying on like a couple of teenagers. Their relationship has managed to be both sweet and laugh-out-loud funny and uses both characters to their best. With Gabby and Leanna on their hands things won’t be easy, but as long as we keep having this Carry On humour and a relationship full of warm then I hope Cavastock last and last.

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9. Matty Barton

Matty has fitted into village life so well it seems strange to think he only arrived in June! Matty’s shock appearance at Butler’s and the subsequent fall-out was Emmerdale at its best. Matty’s reveal was great character led drama about a family and this continued as characters like Moira, Cain and Victoria reacquainted themselves with him. Actor Ash Palmisciano has brought so much warmth and humour to the role, that apart from it being interesting to have a trans character in the show and explore new ground in storylines, he’s also been great fun to have around, be it in the pub or in David’s shop. I’ve been torn between liking his friendship with Vic and loving the slow burn romance, but regardless, Matty’s one of the best newcomers in 2018.

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8. Pete and Rhona

When spoilers circulated at the beginning of the year claiming Pete and Rhona were going to hook up, put me down as someone that thought it sounded ridiculous! Fast forward 12 months and they are one of my favourite couples in Emmerdale. Pete was one of my most hated characters in 2017 after the Priya affair, and after Pierce, Rhona needed something fun and sparky, someone who would treat her well and communicate with her. Did anyone expect that from Pete Barton? These two have cracking chemistry, as well as Rhona performing miracles and actually making Pete seem mature and likeable. Who knew?! One of this year’s highlights was seeing Pete try and bond with Leo, even learning Makaton and it was moments like this that added real depth and heart into the pairing. I’m a big fan, Emmerdale – don’t let me down!

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7. Joe Tate Reveal

For one minute, just forget what a massive watered-down disappointment Joe Tate ended up being and cast your mind back to January 2018 where “Tom Waterhouse” revealed to a packed street that he was in fact “Joseph Tate”. It was the twist all viewers had been waiting for and delivered with such punch. Debbie and Charity’s world shattered and every criticism about the shallow Tom and Debbie fling and the golf course story all made sense. Joe swaggered around the village as the arrogant, campy soap villain, demolishing Wishing Well and injecting a real sense of Tate ruthlessness back into Home Farm, making the Dingles’ lives a misery. It was a glorious time of fun boo-hiss antagonism. It’s just a shame it all went so wrong…

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6. Ellis Chapman

Ellis only arrived in September, but already he has become one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale. When Ellis rocked up in September to see his mum Jessie, no one could have predicted how quickly he would settle into the village, but with a relationship with Vic, a job at the scrapyard and the best friendship with April he feels right at home. Not only does Ellis have the charisma and humour (and the dress sense) to carry any scene he’s in, he also has the slightly cynical, disenfranchised millennial vibe, which has been an entertaining clash with Marlon. Now that Billy’s finally arrived I’m expecting to see new sides to Ellis and I can’t wait.

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5. The Coira Reunion

It’s fair to say that Cain and Moira had a very rough start to the year, surrounded still by the lingering fall-out from Emma Barton’s death. But Coira were meant to be and their on/off tempestuous relationship could only end in one way. With Moira ready to leave the village for good, Cain made a last-ditch attempt to reunite with her, telling her to meet him at the bridge at 5pm. This was real rom-com stuff and when Moira finally arrived (late), Cain’s teasing quip melted all tension and the two kissed to seal their future together. Natalie J Robb and Jeff Hordley’s chemistry is addictively good and after a long wait, the reunion was so worth it.

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4. The Robron Reunion

Cain and Moira weren’t the only pair to have a reunion to rival the best rom-coms. After a year of hell for Robron, Robert was dragged to a gay bar by his girl squad to help him move on from Aaron. This hysterical ensemble of characters made for one of the best episodes of 2018, but the hilarious turned to heart-wrenching as Aaron realised he couldn’t be without his estranged terrible dancer of a husband. After all the best rom-com tropes, the crossed wires, a meaningful location (the garage!) and heart-stopping conversations, Aaron delivered a desperate speech to Robert, listing all the reasons he loved and appreciated him and the two were back together where they belonged. This had buckets of romance and emotion and proved that after all this time the Robron magic is still there.

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3. Emma Atkins’ Winning Performances

Arguably Emmerdale’s biggest character of 2018 was THE Charity Dingle. After fairly low-key stories since her reintroduction after prison, this year was a gamechanger for Charity. From discovering her son was still alive, to finding love with Vanessa, to getting Bails sent down for rape and abuse, Charity’s 2018 was huge. Elements of the Bails story felt repetitive and drawn out, especially coming so soon after two other big rape stories in Emmerdale, but Emma Atkins’ retelling of the abuse Charity faced stayed captivating. Through the ups and downs of Charity’s year, be it her sharp tongue, humour or fragility, the consistently brilliant performances from Emma Atkins have been a constant. Charity’s entertainment factor is endless and her caustic humour can liven up even the dullest week of stories.

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2. Thomas Atkinson’s Killer Portrayal

The second week of January 2018 featured one hell of a car crash as Lachlan White tried to kill his entire family, wanting “make all the monsters disappear”. We’ve been waiting years for Emmerdale to fully embrace Lachlan’s cold-hearted and entitled darkness and this year Lachlan went from deranged to serial killer as his behaviour escalated to tormenting, gaslighting, imprisonment, torture and multiple murders. Yikes. The story suffered from lags and disappointments, but actor Thomas Atkinson was incredible in the role, progressing from a lost-boy out of his depth to stone-cold evil. At his best, Thomas made Lachlan creepily empathetic and then, in the next breath twisted and cold. In the end, the story let him down but some of Emmerdale’s best scenes in 2018 had Thomas at the helm.

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1. Tracy’s Powerful Year

So, my top spot? The brave and beautiful Tracy Shankley. The year began with another lazy cheating plot as David slept with Leyla (offscreen) and shattered Tracy’s heart, but worse was to come when a man from her past appeared, pallying up with David and blackmailing Tracy over her secret past as a prostitute. As David turned a cold shoulder and blamed her, ashamed of her past, Tracy – with the help of some allies – realised she deserved far better and dumped him for good. Amy Walsh is one of Emmerdale’s best, delivering raw and vulnerable performances and making Tracy an incredibly empathetic and strong woman. I’ve loved her empowered speeches this year as she made so many right, but difficult choices, and she has been my stand-out star of 2018. It was a real shame her storyline about prostitution was rushed and that Amy Walsh has been overlooked for award nominations. Here’s to a bigger and better year for Tracy and her new business in 2018 and please Emmerdale, please, don’t reunite her with David.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2018 and Happy New Year!

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2018

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It hasn’t been the greatest year of Emmerdale stories and when the big plots drag, or have anti-climactic endings it’s even worse. There were some low points which didn’t make the list but need a mention – like Rodney and Misty’s horrendously cringy sex life and David Metcalfe being a scumbag – but those aside, here’s a look some of the worst parts of Emmerdale in 2018.

Come back later for my Top 10 Emmerdale Moments of 2018!

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7. Amelia’s Kidnap

When Amelia’s disappearance began it was genuinely interesting. At first we had no idea what had happened to her – was she dead? Was it an inside job? After a disappointing paternity twist, a shocking missing child plot could have been really exciting. But after the TV appeal and with Kerry the only watchable part of the story, the rest was left to more of Dan and Daz’s boggle-eyed fighting. Within a week all mystery was good and it was revealed Amelia was groomed by Beth, whose father had been killed in action by Daz. Beth’s threats were laughable, Amelia’s fixation with Beth was unbelievable when we’d seen none of its build-up. This just wasn’t the right story for the Spencers and unfortunately it went on and on.

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6. Lachlan’s Anti-climax

One of Emmerdale’s biggest stories in 2018 was Lachlan’s descent into serial killing. With Thomas Atkinson at the heart of the stories, many of the disappointments were saved with his chilling performances, but this story dragged on for far too long. For months Lachlan’s evil behaviour stalled and characters conveniently went on holiday just so he could get away with his crimes. When it came to the end, everyone expected a huge Cameron Murray-style climax, but his showdowns were staggered across a week, followed by a stint in jail and his eventual exit was a tame affair of some wise-cracking detectives telling him he’ll be in prison for a very long time. Spoilers tell us he’ll be making a return to terrorise Belle soon from behind bars, but I’m not convinced even a delayed climax can save story that stalled and swerved any real excitement.

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5. Ross’s Acid Attack

Ross’s acid attack story began as a contemporary story with some stellar scenes in the aftermath, but quickly the direction veered away from a sensitive handling of a modern day issue and got bogged down in guns, gangsters, drugs and Debbie Dingle. Making Debbie, a pivotal character in the village, the accidental mastermind behind the attack meant she could never really face justice for the action and Emmerdale did their very best to absolve her of blame. At times her guilt was empathetic but many viewers felt there was too much focus on her role rather than Ross’s recovery. While Ross’s identity and self esteem struggled, it was the regression to form that was so disappointing. Rather than the attack letting us see the more vulnerable, likable aspects of Ross, we saw him become a cocky thug, taking coke and destroying all his relationships. This might have been a prolonged reaction to his attack but it was ugly to watch and made Ross’s last months on Emmerdale unpalatable.

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4. Bob and Laurel

It seems like the new producers of Emmerdale have seen sense and ended the Bob and Laurel relationship and this was arguably one of 2018’s most hated plotlines. Last year in my rundown of 2017 I praised seeing more of Bob but this year I’ve eaten my words as we saw selfish Bob destroy his marriage for a midlife crisis affair with Laurel and become a really unlikeable man. There were elements of empathy and good viewing within this story, it just became difficult to buy into this apparent deep emotional love Laurel and Bob shared when there was no chemistry on screen. At one point during the year it seemed like Bob and Laurel spent every episode sucking face and when we knew how it was hurting Brenda, and later the kids, it became even more unwatchable. Much like how showrunners backtracked on Zak and Joanie, it seems everyone saw sense and Bob and Laurel’s romance is well and truly over now, thank god.

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3. Home Farm Flops

One of 2018’s biggest disappointments was how fast Emmerdale destroyed Joe and Graham. From the masterpiece of the Joseph Tate reveal, he was the perfect antagonist, held back from the edge by the mysterious Graham. But just months later, Joe turned lovesick puppy for Debbie, forgiven by all the villagers he’d wronged and eventually killed by right hand man Graham. Graham, who’s dark past was revealed in great scenes with Debbie early in the year, is stuck in the big house isolated and twiddling his thumbs until Kim’s return. Apart from Emmerdale sucking all life and interest from Joe during his short time on the show, my interest in Graham has quickly waned as Emmerdale have swerved any real depth to him by keeping him aloof and monotone. Not only have they given him a lifeless romance with Megan, but following on from the same mistakes as The White family, Graham’s only interesting feature is his exposition-heavy backstory. There’s only so long you can stay interested in a character as robotic as Graham and I’m afraid I’ve lost all patience.

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2. Rebecca and the Crazy Nurse

When Rebecca became Lachlan’s prisoner in the woods, we finally saw a side to her that had been missing in her previous storylines, she fought back, determined to survive and see Seb again. But after her many many near death experiences, Emmerdale revealed Lachlan had kept her locked up with a deranged nurse who kept her drugged and tied to the bed. Rebecca managed to escape and returned to the village in a nightie at the graveyard like a ghost. She then proceeded to retell her whole trauma to police, despite having severe memory problems due to her executive dysfunction. This ill-conceived story was like something from a terrible American soap opera, not just outlandish and implausible, but a laughably stupid turn of events from what had been an enjoyably grisly part of the Lachlan story.

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1. Killing Gerry

Emmerdale’s decision to kill off Gerry wasn’t just the worst thing they did in 2018, in fact I think it’s one of Emmerdale’s worst decisions in recent years. Gerry was the sacrificial lamb to Lachlan’s reign of terror, but what a waste it was. Gerry was a loveable cheeky chappy who had so many interactions in the village and unlike some “comedy characters” he was a genuinely funny guy. He had a lovely relationship with Doug, wound up Aaron, befriended Liv, walked Tip the dog for Jai and had a very keen interest in older ladies. His connection to Lachlan might’ve meant his death was inevitable but much like losing Val in 2015, I think it was a big mistake. It’s hard to replicate a character like Gerry and I think it’s a huge loss to the show. RIP Gerry lad, miss you.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2018 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a big year that saw arrivals, returns and exits, Emmerdale 2018 had many memorable moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20. Brenda Bites Back

Brenda isn’t usually a character that makes my Top 20 list, but after being cheated on by Bob, Brenda’s really come into her own. Lesley Dunlop has shone this year in emotive performances as Brenda expressed her agony, but as the pain turned to bitterness, her wicked one-liners also proved entertaining. After Brenda’s devastating discovery of Bob’s affair she bottled her heartbreak and began a secret campaign against Bob and Laurel, saving the explosive showdown for much later in the year. Having hated Bob and Laurel, I was firmly Team Brenda all the way especially after their wedding day crumpled when she realised how unhappy he was with her. Since then, Brenda had to pick up the pieces with the kids and remain strong, even when weak-willed Bob came crawling. Maybe Brenda is the true hero of 2018 after all.

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19. Losing Grace

One of Emmerdale’s biggest storylines this year was Chas and Paddy and the loss of their baby Grace. This long-running story is one which resonated deeply with a lot of bereaved viewers and explored a range of emotions, from anger and denial to numbness, during the couple’s grief. For me, the moments Chas and Paddy suffered privately were their strongest, breaking down alone and too scared to talk, but their explosion at each other showed a believable ugliness in the aftermath. Supportive characters like Marlon and Faith were a welcome, warm tonic from the prolonged periods of sadness this story produced.

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18. Kim Tate’s Return

The hotly-anticipated return of iconic superbitch Kim Tate shook Home Farm and its visitors when, straight from her prison release, she rocked up in October. This was more of a teaser than anything long-lasting, but her sharp tongued cattiness was a fun injection of camp in the rather dry halls of Home Farm. Unfortunately Kim’s presence was bogged down by a plodding backstory with Graham and an anti-climactic masquerade ball, but her ruthless reintroduction was merely a taster of what’s to come, and I’m hoping for great things in 2019!

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17. Sarah’s transplant

As usual it was another year of misery for Debbie, but it was her daughter’s health crisis which was the most believable and compelling story. Young Katie Hill did a great job with this sad story, displaying a stubbornness just like her mother as she suffered heart failure and initially refused treatment. This story was rife with divisions as Sarah learnt Debbie was behind Ross’s acid attack, but it was characters like Joe, Charity and Faith who brought some much needed levity to the situation and helped show Sarah she hadn’t even begun living yet. This was another story grounded in reality, a horrible situation many parents face and the onscreen relationship between Charley Webb and Katie made the vulnerable hospital moments authentic and heartbreaking.

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16. More Community Spirit

If there’s anything a village should have, then it’s community spirit. Sometimes in Emmerdale that isn’t always the case, but this year there have been plenty of times we’ve seen a real community feel and I hope this carries on into 2019! Whether it’s impromptu strip shows with the men of the village, rebuilding Wishing Well cottage, a group outing to a gay bar, parties and celebrations, fireworks to remember Gerry, or even a big masked ball at Home Farm – there have been plenty of occasions this year for the villagers to mix. These events give characters who don’t usually interact the chance to chat, forming new friendships and fun interactions. More importantly it’s an entertaining way to make Emmerdale village feel more real and have stories intersect rather than filming blocks distract from the everyday authenticity of village life.

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15. Noah Tate

Noah had a big year as he tried to find his place in the world when 2018 began with the Dingles at war with his villainous big brother, Joe Tate. With mum Charity hating Noah’s bond with Joe, Noah became more determined to learn about his roots and soon the brothers were bonding well. Mischievous Noah brought out Joe’s softer side and the actors had a believable onscreen rapport. Actor Jack Downham impressed me several times throughout the year as he faced difficult times within his family, managing to be empathetic even when he can be a bit of a teenage brat. Since Joe’s “disappearance” and feeling isolated by Charity, Noah has really struggled. With Jack’s performances getting better and better, and Noah’s complex relationship with Charity being one of her most interesting dynamics, I hope big things are ahead for him in 2019.

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14. Adam Barton’s Exit

January 2018 feels like a long time ago now, but back then we lost one of Emmerdale’s original Barton boys as Adam went on the run for Emma’s murder, protecting his mum, Moira. Adam’s imprisonment was a bit of a mess story-wise, and even though his last episode was the trademark “on the run” Emmerdale exit, the final episode itself had an entertaining escape plan and finished with scenes that were full of heart. Actor Adam Thomas really pulled on the heart stings as he left Moira an emotional voicemail to say goodbye and shared meaningful final scenes with best mate Aaron and estranged wife Victoria. It might have happened months ago now, but much like it has for Victoria, it still made a lasting impression!

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13. Ryan Stocks

Perhaps the best part of Charity’s story this year was the arrival of the son she thought had died, Ryan Stocks. Ryan has been a breath of fresh air to the village and in Charity’s life, being full of cutting humour as well as having a kind-hearted nature. Charity and Ryan’s first meeting were some of the best scenes of the year, as she dealt with her shock and guilt and he showed her compassion. Newcomer James Moore has made a great impression on Emmerdale fans already and it’s been refreshing to have a prominent disabled character join the village in a likeable and quick-witted role.

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12. The Robron Wedding

Hearts soared this year as Robert and Aaron finally got their much-longed-for legal wedding in a touching special day. 2017’s wedding was hit with Robron fans, so any second shot was going to be hard to match, but Emmerdale pulled out all the stops for a classy affair this time, with romantic speeches, happy tears and matching décor. A happily married couple on their wedding day is a rare event in soap, but after the struggle to get there it was earned.

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11. Charity’s Flashback Episode

Last year’s trip into Cain and Faith’s past, complete with young recasts was such a success that Emmerdale went back in time again, this time to Charity’s dark past. Arguably the strength of Emma Aktin’s retelling of her abuse in earlier episodes rendered this flashback episode surplus to the story, but the special scenes illustrated Charity’s captivating history and the transitions between past and present were nicely done. This kind of episode relies on a killer performer and thankfully Emma fulfilled that role perfectly, but it’s probably time for Emmerdale to give the flashbacks a rest for a while.

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2018.