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!

Fave or Fail? (27-31 March 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Harriet and Cain snog and Faith reveal her cancer in a powerful moment.

Faves

Light and Shade

w51thWe all know Ashley’s story is ending very soon, but one of the strengths of this hard-hitting dementia plot has been Emmerdale’s handling of what could be quite a draining watch. With long running illness plots the danger is that the story gets bogged down in misery, but this hasn’t happened in Ashley’s story. The moments of grief and emotion have been used poignantly and amongst this has been heart-warming and fun family moments with a large group of characters. This week saw the Thomas collective and friends join together for a talent show to cheer up Laurel. Bernice’s Barry Manilow, Doug’s musical carrot (“I am some kind of tit!” – yes, we know), Nicola’s high spirited one-arm dance – all of this was juxtaposed with Ashley’s sing-a-long at the care home, ending in him coughing up blood. It’s because these moments of light, family warmth are shown alongside Ashley’s decline and brief moments of hope, that they’re so effective. Seeing all of Ashley’s family and friends together, all responding in different ways, all bringing their own histories and personalities into the story, makes this plot relatable to so many other families watching. Next week is going to be heartbreaking.

Genuine Shock

w51faithAdmittedly I’m the sort of Emmerdale fan who’s addicted to spoilers so there’s little that’s usually a surprise to me, but I was genuinely taken aback by the reveal of Faith’s mastectomy this week and found it to be a very powerful moment. After Chas and Faith’s turbulent heart to heart, Faith flinched when Chas went to hug her, prompting another emotional outburst from Chas with her believing that Faith thought she was toxic. What transpired was a scene alone in Faith’s bedroom and a silent shot as she stared at herself in the mirror, revealing her mastectomy scars. The moment was shocking, poignant and a brave move for a soap. Although Faith is a controversial figure both on-screen with her family and off-screen with viewers, she already feels like a complex and well draw character despite not having been on screen for very long and having already shared scenes with many characters, it seems like she is already finding her place in Emmerdale.

Bob’s Your Uncle

Emmerdale - Bob Is Shocked When Ashley Starts Coughing Up Blood - YouTubeI’m not convinced there’s enough love for Bob Hope on the internet. Not only does he make unforgettable Americanos and think of himself as a bit of a smooth mover but he’s got to be one of best shoulders to cry on right now. This week Carly opened up to him about losing Billy and his support was compassionate and tender – exactly what she needed from her dad. Later in the week, Bob was a great friend for Ashley and even entertained the other residents in the care home with his singing. Bob is one of those villagers who seems to brighten up the screen and this week proved more than ever that he’s more than just a coffee maker and we need to see him get stuck into as many stories as possible!

Fails

Something Missing?

Emmerdale - Did Harriet Enjoy Being Kissed by Bad Boy Cain - YouTubeOn paper, unconventional vicar hooks up with local bad boy sounds like the recipe for a red-hot affair story and when we all suspected that cool woman of the cloth Harriet was going to get frisky with Cain, there was definitely potential. Could ‘Charriet’ be the next big thing? Well…for me it was a bit of a let down if I’m honest. The build-up to their church aisle snog felt a little forced and their confrontational attitude the other week sprung up from nowhere for two characters who have barely interacted in their years onscreen. Understandably they wouldn’t get on and yet it all felt far too shoe-horned just to make their antagonism greater for a shock snog. And really, there’s no denying they’re both sexy but their chemistry didn’t quite translate as well as it could. That’s not to say this plot won’t heat up but there was just something missing. Might it be because it just feels like Cain is treading water until they reunite him with Moira?

Seeing Double

EmmerdaleIf you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll have noticed my change of heart when it comes to Jai Sharma. I’m fickle, okay? Once I couldn’t stand the guy and I wouldn’t have minded if there was a fire at the sweet factory, but now? Now I love Jai. This week saw a return of a more Jai centred story as he attended an NA meeting at the village hall and talked about his struggle with addiction and the loss of Holly. All powerful and moving stuff, even if these issues – like Carly’s struggles – feel a bit disjointed seeing as they’ve not been touched on regularly enough. However what was less convincing was the arrival of Nell aka Holly Barton’s doppelganger. We understand quite clearly that she was meant to remind Jai of Holly and encourage him to reach out but did her look-a-like status need to be so embarrassingly blatant? The clothes, the age, the voice, the hair. It was all a bit much and had the subtly of a hammer to the face. We’re not idiots, Emmerdale, we can connect the dots without the need for a Holly clone! Less is more.

Scene of the Week (27-31 March 2017)

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This scene of the week choice is a little cheat because Chas and Faith’s kitchen outpourings lasted a few scenes, but they were truly stand-out moments in the week and one of the many reasons I’ll miss Chas and Lucy Pargeter now that she’s on maternity leave. Fractured familial relationships and mothers abandoning their children are a soap staple but still this confrontation between Chas and Faith managed to feel fresh and compelling. It was a complex situation fought out between these two headstrong women and while we might have some sympathies with Faith (perhaps more so now we know why she’s eager to repair her relationships) Chas’s pain at the abandonment, being left with a drunk and violent father and its impact on her own experience as a mother, was still raw. The writing and acting in these tough scenes made Chas and Faith’s relationship feel real and complicated and human – soap at its best.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 March 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Sorry for the little blog break last week (but hey when your favourite soap destroys your favourite character and couple it kinda takes away the fun!) but I’m back. This week saw Emma lose her grip and Faith communicate (ish) with the dead. 

Faves

Killing It

Emmerdale - Who Heard Emma Confess to Murder - YouTubeI’ve long championed the talents of the brilliant Gillian Kearney, who plays Emma Barton, and with a week like last, I won’t be stopping anytime soon. Although many Emmerdale viewers are champing at the bit, dying for Emma to be caught and punished for her crimes, I just can’t help but want her to stay in the village for as long as possible. Emma is fascinating. Part fragile and unhinged and the other part devious and wicked, Emma balances so many emotions. Gillian plays Emma walking this line so brilliantly that there are times when you feel her every jittered panic and yes, even feel sorry for her. She can be cutting with just a look, fiercely protective over her boys and so very guilty too. But other times, like when she comes up against an enemy like Faith she’s ruthless and dangerous and that’s what makes her so watchable. I’ve really enjoyed this slightly bonkers religious fixation she’s attained too because it just adds to her struggle of trying to deal with her terrible actions. Emma acts with conviction, despite her guilt, believing now that she can be forgiven and needs to be for the sake of her family. But ultimately the way Gillian Kearney plays Emma means she’s someone I want to watch for a long time.

Stepmother Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h21m26s474I really enjoyed Carly’s storyline this week as she struggled with the responsibility of being in a relationship with a single dad. We’ve not seen anywhere near enough material for Carly since she joined Emmerdale but every time Gemma Atkinson is given something emotional or difficult she really sells Carly’s pain. This week little April choked and Carly froze, unable to help and reminded of the way she lost her own son. After initially finding it hard to patch up their little family, Carly was swayed by Marlon’s affection and April’s emotional speech about how she wished Carly was her mummy. It was all pretty touching but most of all I liked Carly’s realistic difficulties with the responsibility it gave her. Getting together with Marlon has always seemed like a sweet but rather unlikely pairing and her dilemma of choosing between a “grown-up” life with him and his family versus a fun adventure abroad is one that feels believable. By the end of the week we’ve seen Marlon realise she’s gone abroad after all and if Carly returns this could spell the end for them. While she seems happy there with them as her family, there are times where it looks as if her heart isn’t really in it anymore. I’m interested to see what happens when she returns.

Story Surge

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h20m57s466I’m sure we saw more of Harriet this week than we saw in the whole of 2016. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration but the local vicar was everywhere this week! First of all she had an awkward reunion with Ashley as she struggled to know what to say to him, similar to how his other friends felt. Then was her antagonistic involvement with Cain and his crimes (I think we can all see where this storyline is heading), her knocking down of Emma and then her comfort of Laurel in the church. It’s been great to see more of Harriet, because really you can’t go wrong with an ex-copper vicar who wears ripped jeans, can you? Harriet is definitely one of those forgotten characters whose long deserved a decent storyline and if the Cain situation transpires into some sort of unholy alliance then that should be interesting for a little while, before his inevitable return to Moira.

Fails

Calling My Bluff

Emmerdale - Faith and Emma Come to a Dark Arrangement - YouTubeOnce again we came tantalisingly close to Emma’s secrets being exposed this week, and it’s not like I really want her caught, but I can’t help but feel Friday’s twist was a bit of a cheat. All week Faith’s ungodly psychic night unnerved Emma, so much so she took solace in the church again. Unfortunately for her it looked as if Faith had heard her confession and was set ready to expose her in front of the whole pub. A fun Emma vs Faith rivalry had been set up all week and we were all under the impression that Faith knew that Emma was responsible for giving James a little shove over the bypass. But with Emma in hospital and panicked, she was ready to admit defeat and accept Faith’s blackmail requests believing that was the only way to keep her boys protected. Except the whole thing was a case of crossed wires as Faith revealed to Moira that she’d overheard Emma badmouthing her and had seen her attempts to bash her over the head – nothing to do with Emma’s James secret. When Emma found out at the end of Friday I couldn’t help but feel the whole thing was a fizzled out let down, a plot that served its purpose for a week only to reset. We haven’t progressed anywhere, nothing has changed with the Emma story, we only know that Faith’s guarding her own secret. I love Emma and I want to keep her on Emmerdale but this just feels like stalling.

Misery Business

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h24m40s837If surveyed, how many Emmerdale viewers would say, “Do you know what I’d really like to see? More misery for Aaron. I just haven’t had my fill.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say zero. A grand total of zero viewers are interested in seeing Aaron’s life mangled into the kind of hellish parody we’re reaching on screen and yet here we are. It doesn’t matter just how prettily Danny Miller cries, we’ve been here so many times. Last year Emmerdale told viewers there was light, justice and love available in the future of child sex abuse survivors. They were given accolades and acclaim for this. The last few weeks though seemed to give this message the middle finger. Having spent a year building a redemption arc for Robert Sugden, developing his relationships, his heart and creating a love story championed by legions of fans, Emmerdale thought they’d erase all that for some much needed upset in Aaron’s life. Long gone is Aaron’s heartbreaking prison ordeal and attention on his mental health struggles, long gone is these hard-hitting prison issues, long gone is his hope on the outside world, long gone is Robert’s fun and bantering relationships with Aaron’s family. Now all the focus is on Emmerdale’s most overused and most hated trope, the one night stand. With Aaron being released so soon and all these contemporary prison issues swept aside, the whole prison storyline seems like a cynical attempt to pile more angst onto an already angst-ridden couple. It’s sure to set Aaron’s mental health and Robert’s much-love character development back years – and can anyone, Robron fan or not, honestly say this is something they want to watch?

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Feb 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A hugely emotional and fantastic week in Emmerdale as Aaron and Robert married and were tragically torn apart just a day later.

Faves

The Wedding of the Year

21022017-208You can read exactly why I loved the Robron wedding here, but how could anything else top the week? The episodes were filled with love, warmth, humour, emotion and were a worthy celebration of one of the biggest and most-talked about romances to hit the Dales. For two characters with such a turbulent past, they were never going to have a typical wedding but the payoff was completely worth it to see them at their peak of love and happiness – even if it did only last a day! It was special, romantic and intimate and really got to the heart of both men and the reasons why their love story is so cherished by fans and their relationship is so successful. Here’s hoping Emmerdale keep them together for as long as possible – and that when Aaron gets out of prison they can sign on the dotted line and make this Mr Dingle and Mr Sugden thing properly official.

Prison Blues

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h19m03s835While I’m always going to advocate giving Aaron Dingle some happier times in his life, it’s easy to see why the writers put Aaron through hell so frequently when it makes such good TV! Just a day after getting married, Aaron and Robert were cruelly torn apart and Aaron was sentenced to 12 months inside. To go from the romantic joy of the wedding to the agonising scene of their goodbye was pure torture but so superbly acted by Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that you could almost forget you weren’t living through this tragic separation too. (Who’d think we’d ever be crying over a bottle of shower gel and an exchange of names? Not me!) Once inside Aaron faced the difficult decision to hide his sexuality in scenes which were particularly painful to watch knowing how far Aaron had come in his own life in terms of acceptance. The prison scenes are already an uncomfortable and claustrophobic viewing experience so I can only imagine how much worse it will get, and when paired with Robert and Liv’s misery – it’s really hard hitting on the emotions.

The Thomas Family

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hub-1It feels like I write about how good the Thomas family are every week, but I just can’t help it. With Ashley now living in a care home (and what heart-wrenching scenes those were at the end of the week), the Thomas family are adjusting to live without Ashley at home. This week it was hard for Laurel coping on the anniversary of Daniel’s death and the realisation that Ashley wouldn’t remember. After confiding in carer Will there was an awkward mix-up for Laurel as she panicked he was interested in her after the mysterious Valentine’s Day flowers too. Once again it was the adorable Arthur who was behind the sweet surprise and I didn’t think I could find him any cuter until his confession to Sandy and their mission (on Sandy’s scooter) to get to the pub on time. Sandy too has a wicked sense of humour meaning the Thomas family are just so watchable at the moment.

New Blood

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h26m39s547Faith hasn’t entered Emmerdale quietly – she’s big, bold and abrasive and probably not to everyone’s cup of tea – but being thrown in at the deep end has had its advantages. Even though she’s already gone off screen to take Sarah to Prague for her treatment she’s made a lasting impression already. It’s really helped that Faith has made herself notorious – interacting with a huge range of characters and flirting with every man in her radius – rather than sticking to a small bubble of characters. She already feels fully integrated and we already have a good sense as to who she is. It’s been a while since we’ve had a character as brash as her, perfectly able to get stuck into the drama and be believable as an awful mother to Cain and Chas, while still being entertaining with some great one liners.

Shock Discovery

vlcsnap-2017-02-26-15h27m27s143Right in the middle of Tracy’s hilarious porn writing plot (loving that Pearl-inspired beret btw, Trace), and David’s amusing jealousy of the fictional Gustav, came an unexpected plot twist. David found a lump in his testicles – and quickly the smiles faded as they realised his cancer might have returned. It was a real shock emerging from this frothy comedy plot and one which took me by surprise. Not only did this bring another quiet and nuanced performance from Matthew Wolfenden as David tried to keep calm, but as Jacob suffered with what seems to be some sort of anxiety, it left me looking forward to seeing more of Joe-Warren Plant as hopefully his storyline progresses to new territory.

Fails

Dragging Her Down

emmerdale-thursday-23-feb-8pm-the-itv-hubPerhaps my biggest shock this week was that I was in agreement with Jai Sharma as he quite rightly assessed that Rakesh just drags Priya down. Couldn’t have put it better. Priya can be fun, feisty and is a smart and gorgeous woman so what the hell is she doing still wasting her time with a lowlife like Rakesh. Really though, what does she see in him? Secret liaisons and office desk hook-ups are soap bread and butter and illicit flings are one of my favourite things to watch, but even when they’re trying to be sexy like this week, they just don’t really cut it. To make matters worse, it’s frustrating that Priya has forgiven him so easily for the events of the summer. Why reunite them when their relationship does Priya no favours (and yes, I’ve given up all hope on Rakesh ever being engaging). Priya deserves better and so do we. Or at least a decent storyline (and partner) for her.

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!

Fave or Fail? (6-10 Feb 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was Dingle mania this week as Cain and Chas’s mum rocked up in the village.

Faves

Thomas Family Heartbreak

emmerdale-friday-10-feb-7pm-the-itv-hubIf there’s one word to sum up the Thomas family story this week it would be this: crushing. Each week Ashley’s heartbreaking dementia storyline is featured, you think performances and the writing cannot possibly be bettered and yet it goes one further every week. The ensemble nature of the story means there are a range of emotions and reactions carrying the plot forward and fleshing it out with a devastating believability. From the whole family’s stilted conversation the night before Ashley was due to move into the care home, where Arthur’s agonised sobs that Ashley shouldn’t leave as he’d done nothing wrong were painful, to the moving sing-song, to Doug and Diane’s private despair – everything was pitched with the perfect tone. It’s a difficult watch and one that resonates so deeply with families watching. Laurel’s bravery and strained enthusiasm to keep going features endlessly superb performances from Charlotte Bellamy so much so, her portrayal feels less like a character and more like a real woman with every episode. Everyone is excellent in this storyline, and Laurel as the glue trying to hold everyone together, makes you ache watching – especially ending the week on that awful moment where she cried alone in bed after one of the worst days of her life.

Having Faith

emmerdale-a-mystery-woman-arrives-in-the-village-youtubeHair piled up high, sunglasses, cracking one-liners and a perchant for gin – okay, I think I’m gonna like Faith Dingle. Forget the drawn out way she was introduced this week (see below), I think Faith’s going to be exactly what the Dingles need for a bit of a shake-up. (I was already dying with laughter at her brutal assessment of Zak “only just buried your last wife and you’re digging up the next one”.) Chas and Cain already share great sibling scenes together so any more of this seems like a good thing, particularly considering they both have underlying issues with their mother – and that’ll be interesting to address. Not since Val have we had an older more outrageous woman in the village causing a stir and if she continues to be a pal for Diane and flirt with Eric, she might help to ease this Val-less pain.

The BnB Squad

emmerdale-chas-and-cain-reunite-with-their-mother-faith-dingle-youtube-1Since Val’s death and Finn’s leaving of his job, we haven’t seen so much of the BnB even though Diane and Doug are working there too now. This week though really showed us what a dream team Diane, Doug and Eric could be. The honesty box subplot last week was just a little taster of this comedic magic and this week showed us more of their strange little relationship. Eric is a stickler for rules (breakfast isn’t allowed in the bar and definitely not at 3pm!), Doug is stuck in his ways and that grates on Eric and Diane is relaxed and loves a laugh. I loved their pettiness, like arguing over who’s cleaning the toilet as Doug hilariously mimed Eric’s encounter with Eric’s “girlfriend”, Faith – reminding me of squabbling school kids and I seriously hope we see more of them like this.

Bonus faves:

  • Pearl reading smutty books and suggesting Tracy write one
  • Nicola’s ruthless business at the Sharmas, making clients grovel, telling them that Rishi’s dead and slating Priya’s tea making skills. Marvellous

Fails

Scams and Schemes

emmerdale-frank-and-charitys-diamond-robbery-goes-awry-youtubeI’m always in two minds when it comes to Charity’s dress up schemes. Sometimes they’re a good laugh and you’re able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the comedy and other times they fall a bit flat. Her diamond plot with Frank this week was on the fence. There were enjoyable elements to her scamming in the week – her and Frank work surprisingly well together and have a good deal of chemistry; Charity vs Chrissie seemed like a well-matched rivalry in terms of their verbal sparring; and the wealthy businessman + his henchman lover was a fun twist. But perhaps this dressing up, bonkers plan stuff is a bit much after the bank job the other week and the aggro between Charity and Debbie or Charity and the rest of the Dingles just feels like re-treading old ground.

Dragged Out

emmerdale-sarah-questions-the-mystery-woman-in-the-barn-youtubeYou can see from above that I’m quite a fan of Faith already and the different dynamic she will add to the show but the road to finding out who she was seemed to drag on needlessly over four episodes. When a newbie arrives speculation is rife as to who they are, but Faith’s identity was just a bit too obvious from the get-go (especially when her arrival was teased almost a year ago), meaning there was little suspense in the reveal. It didn’t make a great deal of sense as to why she camped out so long in the barn, nor why Sarah latched onto her so fast and Sarah’s secretive and bad behaviour to keep her a secret was tedious to watch but now Faith’s been thrown into the family fold we should get some great scenes.

Scene of the Week (6-10 Feb 2017)

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Even though a lot of us Emmerdale viewers had figured out who the mysterious Lady in the Barn was, the reveal of her being none other than Faith Dingle was a great scene. Coming face to face with her unimpressed children, Chas and Cain, it was less surprise and delight more loathing and annoyance. You could hear the derision dripping from Chas’s mouth as she said “Hello Mother” and Cain’s response, that they’d met once or twice, brilliantly set up the nature of their familial relationship. Awkwardness, tension, conflict and fantastic dialogue – this has set the pace for what will hopefully be a fun (and maybe nightmarish) addition to the Dingle fold. Bring it on!

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Jan 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale made this history this week as they scooped “Best Serial Drama” at the National TV Awards for the first time ever! On screen, Debbie returned.

Faves

Chilling and Compelling

emmerdale-rhona-humiliates-herself-at-paddys-party-youtubeAs we know, Emmerdale is going from strength to strength -particularly when it comes to its challenging and societal issue storylines. I’ve already praised the subtleties of the Pierce and Rhona storyline but it just gets better and better, all the while being dreadful and uncomfortable to watch. It’s not an easy viewing experience to see Pierce’s games at work – to see him manipulate and dig at Rhona’s insecurities – from the slut-shaming to the humiliation in front of her friends, but it’s one that highlights a troubling relationship dynamic. As outsiders we are able to see what Rhona is going through, seeing how Pierce’s control and rape of her (a manifestation of his dangerous inferiority complex) is crushing her, but we’re also seeing how she’s made to doubt herself, how her friends are pushed out, how his actions are almost normalised. Rhona already feels isolated, now not just socially but in her own head – because Pierce is making her feel like he’s blameless. It’s complex and confusing for her – when their passion has now been tainted with his manipulation, degradation and non-consensual sex. It’s chilling and sickening – but a hugely important story to tell and I’d go as far to say it’s already shaping up to be one of the best stories in soap in the last six months.

Little Star

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m35s147This week Laurel referred to Gabby Thomas as a little star and I’d agree, but I’d go one further than that and extend the sentiment to actress Rosie Bentham. Gabby’s at the centre of her family’s heartbreak right now and Rosie continues to portray Gabby’s agonising predicament as daughter and care giver in such a relatable and beautiful way. It’s been lovely to see Gabby look after her father, but the scene on Monday when she broke down crying to reveal to Laurel that Ashley had wet himself and she had pretended everything was fine just to keep him in their lives, was such a tragic and fantastically portrayed moment, full of pathos. I can’t begin to imagine how Gabby’s reaction to the loss of Ashley will shatter our hearts.

Physical Comedy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h44m17s145Comedy can be hit and miss in soaps, but there were plenty of laughs to be had in Charity’s winning impression of Chrissie White at the bank. When Emmerdale does their favourite disguise plot (an outfit, a wig and a foolproof plan) it can border on the farcical and this bank job certainly did but Emma Atkins just about pulled it off thanks to an amazing posh voice and a killer outfit. Throwing in a liberal amount of ‘super’ and ‘lovely’ you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching Ab Fab but the nervy bank manager and his Home Farm enthusiasm was a good giggle too. The tranquiliser scenes in the street, with the shaky camera work and unicorn visions might have been a bit much, but it’s Charity so we’ll overlook it.

Bonus Fave: The return of the brilliant Lydia!!!

Fails

Paddy’s paddy

vlcsnap-2017-01-29-11h40m57s988When Paddy’s affair with Tess saw his popularity and likeability nosedive, it was great to see him back in the village as a fun and comedic character again. He played the fool, revisiting his hilarious relationship with Marlon and after some enjoyably silly attempts to get Rhona back, realised she’d moved on and so should he. This week he grew to be irritating again after being pushed out by Chas in favour of the very lovely DS Wise (who can blame her?). Rather than show concern for Aaron, or be supportive of Chas, he spent most of his time bitching and moaning about Jason Wise, seeming petty and jealous about the whole thing. Paddy’s best when he’s childish in a fun, cartoonish way, not childish in a bitter and immature way and it wasn’t enjoyable to revisit. He says he’s going to let Chas get on with things in her own way so let’s hope he sticks to it!

In Need of a New Path

emmerdale-debbie-gets-her-kids-back-from-hugos-goons-youtubeDebbie came back this week, on the run from a French gangster named Hugo and his henchmen. As you do. I’ll hold my hands up now and say I’m not Debbie’s biggest fan, mainly due to the life-sucking love triangle from 2015 where chemistry evaded both Debbie&Pete and Debbie&Ross (sorry, but it’s true), but with her hotly anticipated return on screen I was ready to give her a chance. Debbie as a mother and Debbie as a daughter, Debbie trying to hold everything together and be strong – that is the kind of Debbie I can get behind. Plastic gangsters, a railway track and a moodily lit warehouse – ticking every cliché in the straight-to-DVD mob movie book? Not a plot I ever enjoy in soap. There’s no real tension or drama in it. We don’t know these cardboard villains, but we do know Emmerdale won’t kill off the Sugden kids, so there’s zero jeopardy. In amongst this lack of threat we have Cain displaced from his spot of Top Dog (always disappointing) and Ross’s resurgence as a love-struck yet ultimately cowardly thug. Ross was a great character and his romance with Donna was beloved, but it’s hard to get past Emmerdale’s fixation on the Ross and Debbie romance when it was such a weak (yet dominant) part of 2015. Ross’s watery eyed declarations to “Debs” really take away from Debbie’s potential as an independent force when we know she’s still hung up on him. If I believed in their love, then it would be easier to buy that she might be tempted by the guy whose bedded her mother multiple times but as it stands, their good looks don’t make up for their lack of chemistry so I’m praying we see Debbie’s return take a new path, rather than watch Ross win her back.