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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.