Every week (every fortnight during the lockdown) I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Andrea finally learnt what Jamie’s been getting up to and Rishi’s birthday had an explosive end.
Andrea Learns the Truth
The scales fell from Andrea’s eyes this week as she discovered husband Jamie has been playing away with Belle and making plans to leave her. Having only recently reunited, Andrea was devastated by his betrayal and confided in Leyla who urged her to fight for her marriage. Anna Nightingale did a good job at showing Andrea’s pain and made her immediately sympathetic, even though her and Jamie’s marriage doesn’t seem worth saving. In later episodes it seems like Andrea’s plans to win Jamie’s affections back involved causing friction between him and Belle and despite her hurt she seemed almost gleeful in her plotting. Andrea showed she could be quite smart and devious, with barbed comments and sly plans she has potential to be the next big soap bitch. Could we see the next Kim Tate on our hands? Viewers have long felt Andrea has been a bit wasted and this felt like the start of something much more promising.
Chas Reaches Out to Paddy
This fortnight was the culmination of Paddy’s struggles with baby Eve, after his unfortunate mistake of leaving her in the car alone. I’ve not been a fan of how Paddy is written in recent times, the bumbling and stuttering feeling more and more like a caricature, but when Chas finally found out what he was going through, the pair were able to sit and talk it through like grown-ups finally. It was a fitting call-back to their daughter Grace, to talk about why this might be impacting on his mental health and parenting, and it was a nicely scripted scene that dealt with those issues without being mawkish. Saying all this, I do hope now that they’ve reached a turning point, that Chas and Paddy’s characters have more to do than just be parents. It’s time, for Chas especially, to get her spark back and not just alternate between nappies and bar work.
More Manpreet – Please
During this pandemic, with fewer episodes and Emmerdale not currently filming, now is the time when some viewers are reflecting on the stories they’re enjoying (and not) and the characters they’d like to see more of when filming resumes. If Emmerdale are taking stock then I’d like to see more of Manpreet. With current stories dominated by the Malone drug plot, Manpreet exemplifies the ‘everyday’ that works so successfully in soap. A “normal” relatable character with a naturalistic acting style and charisma. Manpreet has slotted successfully into the village as their GP and has added a bit of sanity to Rishi’s outlandish buffoonery. She wasn’t especially central to stories this week, though we did see her support Paddy, but she’s a reminder of how even the “mundane” characters are worth watching and utilising when filming resumes. Recently we’ve seen her be warm and caring to Vanessa’s plight, but she’s also fitted in well with the Sharmas – and I’d certainly much rather watch Manpreet than the two-bit gangster stories of late!
According to Emmerdale history, Will Taylor was once the infamous drug lord. So shady and destructive were his dealings, Harriet was employed to infiltrate his life and go undercover as his girlfriend. Sounds like a character with depth and a real dark side. So where is that Will? What we have now is man unrecognisable from the bloke he was originally supposed to be. He’s such a sad sack that even when Malone’s cartoon goons beat him up this fortnight (to the sounds of Land of Make Believe in the world’s cringey-est montage) it was hard to even care. Do I care about his and Dawn’s relationship? Or even him and Harriet? No. I wouldn’t care if he left tomorrow leaving only a note behind. Gone is all the menace and intrigue of his early episodes, the interesting and complex background with him and Harriet and Dawn – all that conflict of betrayal and forbidden feelings with Harriet just erased. Their family with all its tragedy and dysfunction is as lifeless as they come. To sign a successful actor like Dean Andrews should have meant Emmerdale had exciting stories lined up, not to turn Will into a miserable loser under Malone’s thumb.
Dull and Dominating
The Malone story continued to suck the life out of Emmerdale this week, in a plot that feels closer to a poor man’s rejected Line of Duty script than anything we can expect from our favourite soap. The concept of a charismatic bent cop pulling the strings of multiple characters, which in turn has consequences for multiple families has potential but the execution has been nothing short of dull, and when it dominates episodes it’s a real drag. I can’t help but picture the difference if Malone had been introduced slowly, had even had a family himself in the village, only to unravel his power and corruption slowly as he held his grip over the villagers. Instead he’s flat and feels so much like a guest character who will be easily despatched so where’s the investment. Add to this that most of his story is connected to Will – one of Emmerdale’s most bafflingly boring characters – would anyone care if he offed Will tomorrow? The stakes are low, the story is so far removed from the dramas of village life we’re used to, and Emmerdale’s a powerhouse when it centres on relatable stories and gripping tales of love, betrayal and revenge. But most of this story is blokes standing around discussing drugs and vague threats which bare no relation to anything we can care about. The sooner it’s over, the better.