5 Longterm Ways to Fix Robron

Last week Emmerdale super couple Aaron and Robert split up, with Aaron unable to cope with the pressures of his marriage, in light of Rebecca’s pregnancy. It seems only five minutes ago their engagement sealed off a perfect movie-style romance in Super Soap Week and their wedding was an unconventional TV treat. Now their marriage is broken, fans are fed up and it seems like everyone’s tired of their endless angsty storylines. What went wrong?

Aside from the Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley magic, here’s just a few ways I think Emmerdale can attempt to fix one of their most popular couples and make viewers start caring again.

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Back to Basics

It’s never been smooth sailing for Robron and their relationship was always unconventional, but it seems like The Powers That Be have really lost sight of what made the pair so popular. Part of the pleasure in watching a soap is seeing characters and relationships develop. With Robron it was the interest in watching someone as angst ridden as Aaron fall for someone with their own troubles, like Robert, hoping that one day they’d make a go of it. As the story progressed fans didn’t just like watching their two personalities clash and challenge each other, they liked their passion for each other and the fleeting shot at happiness. That they understood each other and supported each other. But lately there’s been a real drought in hope and happiness and we rarely get to see them enjoy each other’s company. Aaron’s history of tragedy made fans long for his happiness and despite Robert’s bad boy instability, he gave him that. It was never going to be easy; part of the enjoyment was watching them work for that. We fell in love with their sexy and tumultuous romance, but their bond and happiness at being together has taken a real knock in the quest to give them more obstacles.

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Give The Misery a Rest!

Arguments, angst, fighting and tears. It’s been the story since day one, but after Aaron’s horrible abuse trial ordeal I think everyone hoped it was about time for a break from the misery. Danny Miller’s tears are award-winning but there comes a point where the heartache reaches saturation point and people are desensitised by Aaron’s latest pain. Soaps don’t really do happiness, unless you’re a comedy couple, but everyone needs light and shade. Even Robron’s wedding was doused in sadness knowing Aaron was heading to prison a day later. Emmerdale couldn’t even give him a day! So this one’s a pretty simple fix really – give them some happier times! We’ve had the same old arguments for well over six months now and it’s time Emmerdale figured out how to find a better balance. We know they’re meant to be, but we’ve stopped seeing that side of them – unless we’re due a four episode argument and another break up, of course!

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Explore New Ground

Their Super Soap Week special showed us that Aaron and Robert are a lot more than angst machines – they’ve got a great comedic partnership too. Not only would a bit of humour give the actors something fun to do, it would be the “light” we’re crying out for. It doesn’t always have to be violence, cheating, drugs and death, you know! But not only that, Aaron and Robert have slipped into a pattern, and a bad habit of behaviours that form many of their stories. It goes something like this: Robert does something bad or something Aaron doesn’t like (intentionally or not), Aaron gets angry and upset, they argue and Robert begs for forgiveness. Sound familiar? How about something different to watch, eh? Test the characters in different ways, explore sides to the lads and their relationship we haven’t seen before. Both of them are complex – there’s a lot to delve into rather than the same old ground.

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Break The Bubble

This is a problem shared by many of the characters in Emmerdale, but one – if fixed – could lift Aaron and Robert out of their rut. Often characters stay in their “bubble” – take David and Tracey, for example, who often seem superglued to the shop, but the last few months, with most of their drama revolving around their marriage and personal issues Aaron and Robert have only interacted with a select few characters. Friendship and family should be the central factor in Emmerdale, but with Chas and Liv gone, Paddy busy, Aaron’s a bit of a forgotten Dingle and the Sugdens are even more fractured – Robron seem stuck in the same conversations with the same few characters. Again and again. So this rescue remedy is all about variety. Some of their more surprising interactions (Aaron’s awkward friendship with Finn, Robert allying with Bernice) have been a welcome change from the angst, but we could really do with more integration into village life and less rehashing of the same issues without resolution.

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The Rebecca Problem

Since her arrival last October, when she tried to tempt Robert back to bed, Rebecca White’s sole purpose in Emmerdale seems to be just to trigger repetitive and tiresome problems between Aaron and Robert. And let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly made her popular with fans of Emmerdale’s super couple. But if you thought we might one day see the end of their age-old arguments about Aaron’s insecurities and Robert’s cheating past, Rebecca’s pregnancy doesn’t offer much hope of that! So does this mean we’re destined to watch a future of her being the third wheel, rolled out whenever they need a bit of drama (read: argument they’ve had a hundred times before)? Well let’s hope not, eh? Because then we’ll never get the above fixes. There are a number of ways this story could go – but one thing’s for sure, Rebecca’s continued presence as a convenient thorn in their side isn’t doing any character favours and I’m longing for change, however that may be.

Scene of the Week (22-26 May 2017)

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It’s a testament to the performances of actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that they can still make a scene special and touching, even in the midst of a storyline almost universally hated like this cheating/baby plot is. Lets call it magic. Falling at the end of Thursday’s dramatic two-parter, this poignant moment was more like a patch of blue sky in between downpours rather than the calm after the storm, but the pair have a chemistry that means it’s just about worth suffering through this predictable plot for. After Robert’s disastrous one-night stand secret came to light, this final scene saw them reunited, trying to move on from their individual issues. It was a welcome change to see Robert as the vulnerable one, clinging onto Aaron who had made the difficult decision to forgive rather than fight his husband. It’s easy to see in scenes like this why they’re such a popular couple, but also why moments of tenderness are a nice reprieve in the never-ending misery fest of their lives in Emmerdale.

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? (3-7 April 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! In a week that proves Emmerdale can do emotional and sensitive drama alongside the tacky and predictable, we saw Ashley pass away and groaned at the beginning of a Who’s the Daddy? plot.

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Time to Say Goodbye

Emmerdale - Ashley Passes Away - YouTube (1)Ashley’s story of dementia has been a long running and sensitively handled plot which has touched many viewers but this week saw the final part of his journey as he died at home surrounded by his family. John Middleton and Ashley have been such a huge part of Emmerdale that it’s hard to imagine him not being there, but this story will be remembered for years to come. It’s a testament to Ashley’s impact on the village that so many characters came to share their memories and say their goodbyes. The performances have been pitched perfectly at every turn, from the awkwardness of knowing what to say, to the denial and realisation. Each of Ashley’s loved ones has coped in their own way and this is another reflection on real life which has made this story all the more powerful. The simplicity, the sense of family and the sensitivity of this story has meant watching the Thomas family, particularly in these last few months, has felt like watching friends go through this pain rather than something fictional. It’s been emotional, moving and relatable and Emmerdale at its finest. Ashley (and John) are a huge loss for the show but it was a worthy story to tell and I’m sure the impact on the family will be a complex story to watch.

Bright Young Things

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h35m54s552There isn’t a more talented bunch of young and child actors than those in Emmerdale right now. I’m constantly blown away by how talented they are and how they can handle huge emotional plots and this week proved that more than ever. Since taking over the role of Gabby, Rosie Bentham has consistently shown a gamut of emotions during her dad’s illness. Her anxious and avoidant reaction to Ashley’s final days is so very relatable and her heart to heart at his bedside was incredibly powerful and moving. I’m sure she’ll continue to impress as she struggles in her grief. It was great to see young Jacob take a supportive role too in looking out for her. Obviously I couldn’t praise the young actors without mentioning little Alfie Clarke who plays Arthur and who continues to shatter hearts with his expressive face and fragile reactions to his dad’s demise. What a treasure he is and always making us get teary eyed. And though she wasn’t part of the Thomas collective this week, Amelia Flanagan (April) had superb comic timing as she tried to help dad Marlon with writing his piece in the memory book. We are lucky to have such a brilliant group of kids on screen.

Bittersweet Reunion

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-18h31m27s737Aaron was released from prison this week and while it should have been a happy time for the reunited husbands, Aaron was understandably still shaken from his ordeal and Robert struggled with his guilt. What began as an interesting and satisfyingly heartbreaking plot about a newlywed couple being torn apart and homophobia in prison, turned into torture porn as Aaron’s treatment and Robert’s betrayal are set to knock Aaron’s mental health and their relationship back by years. And as the misery takes more turns for the worst, you might be wondering why this is even in my Faves list. Simply it’s down to one thing alone and that is the forever captivating chemistry between actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. The boys’ reunion outside the prison gates was wordless and still managed to get hearts thumping and recapture that magic. They alone seem to be able to salvage whatever gargantuan obstacle is thrown grenade-like into Robron’s path and make it a love story you want to see last. But even with this special dynamic this latest “twist” is one that’s going to be hard to overcome.

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Lad Bants

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h52m45s003This week poor Rhona had a horrible time of it as her sex tape was leaked to the village thanks to Vanessa’s failed attempts to expose Pierce’s true colours. A clueless Pearl gave her phone to Ross in the pub and it wasn’t long before Rhona’s privacy was invaded in a way that left her mortified and violated. We all know that Ross is number one “lad” in the village and if there’s a piggish comment to be made, he isn’t far behind but it was seriously disappointing to see him and Adam pissing themselves over the video when Rhona was visibly upset in front of them. Seriously, I expected better from Adam at least. They were still making light of it the next day and the offhand “banter” which was probably just meant to be “lads being lads” was uncomfortable to watch and highlights a bigger problem that Emmerdale have with Ross as he veers from lovable swoony rogue to unchallenged sexist pig.

Unwanted Pregnancy

vlcsnap-2017-04-08-11h51m13s502It’s the tacky plot we could see coming from hundreds of miles away, the age-old knocked up by a one-night-stand Who’s the Daddy? plot. Giant sighs all round. Miraculously Rebecca must have magical pregnancy powers for conveniently poised new BFF Victoria to sense it so quickly and after one trip to the loo, she had her sussed and sent her away with a pregnancy test. (To make it even nicer, she placed her urine-soaked stick on the breakfast table of the man whose husband she might have been impregnated by). I’m tired of ranting about how cliché, how predictable, how tired, how frustrating this story is – I’ve tweeted about this A LOT lately – but there are countless reasons why this latest “twist” is one of the most disappointing in recent Emmerdale history. Rebecca, though her personality seems to be little more than “wears hats; is a thorn in Robron’s side”, was meant to be a fun free spirit and yet we’re meant to believe a woman like her wouldn’t think about taking precautions? I can’t imagine her gleefully pushing round a pram and if she’s supposed to be “good hearted” unlike the rest of her family, why would she choose to keep an unwanted child that would tear apart the marriage of her supposed friend? And as for what this will do for Emmerdale’s most loved, most tortured couple I can’t think of an outcome which won’t ruin what made them so beloved. An own goal of the worst kind – is this a story anyone wanted to watch?

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. 

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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.

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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?

We Need To Talk About: Aaron Dingle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To me, it’s irresponsible and insensitive.

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

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

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

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

Fave or Fail? (27 Feb-3 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! An unbearable time for poor Aaron in a week that saw the comedy kidnap of Rakesh.

Marvellous Marlon

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h56m47s947Marlon was a man of many talents this week as he got stuck into some emotionally fraught drama with Laurel at the start of the week, relationship tension of his own and then finally some brilliant comedy with Charity on Thursday. Having been a great comfort to the struggling Laurel, Marlon was forced to defend their almost-kiss to Sandy and to girlfriend Carly when the dust settled. While it was nothing but an emotional and difficult moment, Marlon was forced to defend their behaviour and gave Sandy an impassioned speech about how difficult Laurel’s life has become. As for Carly, cute as Carlon are, I’m not convinced she’s really as ready for the serious commitment Marlon is offering as she makes out she is – even with the promise of bubbles in the bath with him. Finally Marlon tried to rescue Charity and Frank from Megan’s discovery (despite him earlier being very narked that Charity wasn’t serving any customers) and ended up seeing A LOT more of Charity than he planned. Not even a wine glass held up to his face could hide that awkward moment!

Team Jai

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h59m30s877I have to be honest with you and share something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to admit. Okay. I like Jai. I’m fond of Jai. I even find myself agreeing with some of his opinions and this week I was all ready to have the “Team Jai” t-shirts made. Who’d have thought it back in 2015 when he was so unlikeable and cold-hearted? Jai was firmly in the “get Rakesh away from Priya” camp this week, even going as far as to try and pay him off. Sure, he doesn’t like the guy and there may be selfish reasons too but ultimately we’re in agreement: that Priya can do so much better. Jai’s scenes this week also involved him trying to jeopardise Priya’s move by dropping the bombshell on David and leaving before the fireworks and I admire his technique really. But whatever he has against Rakesh, he’s spot on about his sister and he did seem genuinely worried she might relapse and it’s impossible to disagree with the guy when he called Rakesh a loser and that she shouldn’t just forgive him. Too right, Jai. Too right.

Brutally Compelling but Too Cruel?

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-17h36m17s348When it comes to Aaron Dingle’s latest storyline I’m torn. It’s full of uncomfortable, dark and important material and it’s performed so superbly that the pain Aaron’s suffering feels very raw and real, but I can’t help but feel it’s too much and too cruel for someone who has been tortured their whole life. We know tragedy follows Aaron at every turn, but this time it feels too oppressive. On the plus side, Danny Miller is unquestionably and consistently fantastic, and Aaron’s pain alongside his family’s struggle is as compelling as it is heartbreaking and the portrayal of homophobia in prison is a worthy story to be told. Also the actors playing prisoners are excellent, particularly the chillingly good Samuel Edward-Cook who plays twisted Jason. But coming less than a year after Aaron saw his abusive father sentenced, Aaron had barely begun to step into the light of a hopeful future before even more pain was poured onto his life. Does there come a point where it’s all just two much on one character’s shoulders – one with a history of unbearable and untreated mental health struggles – and  particularly when we know this is just the start of his hell? Aaron’s had a life of self-torture, did we need to see such a brutal treatment of him so closely linked to his traumatic childhood? Gordon has become present again, even after his death, and the claustrophobic and devastating treatment of Aaron in prison feels like a particularly sickening punishment of an abuse and rape survivor when that story was handled so well. I’m hoping Emmerdale doesn’t lose sight of Aaron’s strength and that they can find the light again when his time inside ends.

Fails

Comedy Kidnap

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h57m12s021I don’t think there’s ever been a soap with more kidnaps than Emmerdale, but this week’s one came with a bizarre comedy element. Having set up a laughable “who bashed Rakesh over the head?” plot with multiple suspects, the real perpetrator was revealed to be Jimmy, who had tied Rakesh up in the Mill in an effort to prove his authority and avenge Nico. After trying to ease the bruising with a pack of frozen peas, Jimmy’s embarrassing backtracking began before he realised Rakesh thought he was harmless. Then came the bizarre tortures – the Aqua playlist (the whole album and not just Barbie Girl on repeat) and the threats of torching the place (only it was water rather than petrol). Sure, elements of this were mildly amusing, but Jimmy could only carry half the comedy himself and the rest fell as flat as Rakesh did when he tumbled out of Mill’s window. The heart of Jimmy’s revenge – his being devastated at Nicola’s paralysis and insecurity – was lost in the scenes bizarre nature and the truce both sides came to in the hospital seemed hollow when Rakesh’s injuries were only superficial. If this was soap karma, I’m not sure this was enough – or the right tone either.

Nothing Changes

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-19h58m53s640The hugely repetitive White family dramas were back this week with Chrissie’s suspicions being at the forefront. Lawrence remarked to her that she says sorry a lot but nothing seems to change with her. Well, you could argue the same for the whole family who never seem to move forward and outside of their own bubble – meaning their inter-familial conflicts are on a loop. This week, once again suspicious of her father’s choice in partner (yep, we’ve been here with Bernice AND Ronnie before) and believing Ronnie to be scamming Lawrence for money, Chrissie ended up falling out with Lawrence. Once again we had scenes of Lawrence shouting about his disappointment in her, how she was bitter and money grabbing and how she was forcing him to choose sides. If it sounds familiar it’s because we’ve been here countless times before, no doubt leading to Chrissie yet again be welcomed back into her father’s arms. Without any other ties to the village the Whites are stuck up at Home Farm with only a passing nemesis now and again. Chrissie could be sympathetic, she could also be a soap bitch character but neither side is ever fully explored in any depth without us going round in circles. Ronnie’s character didn’t fare much better with him going to extremes to teach Chrissie a lesson – he’s not really the rival to challenge her villainy and with no real opponent Chrissie just comes across as a spoilt brat again.

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.

Scene of the Week (20-24 Feb 2017)

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This was such a significant, dramatic and emotional week in Emmerdale that choosing a favourite scene was really difficult, but after all the tears and heartbreak later on in the week I had to opt for the moment where Aaron and Robert finally got married. After an epic rollercoaster of a romance, their nuptials were fitting, intimate and heartfelt, taking place among the tyres, oil and engines of the Dingle garage – and yep, where they had sex for the first time! The scene was shot beautifully, with close ups showcasing their intense love for each other and soft lighting that made the whole moment special. Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley made the emotions look effortless as their alter-egos expressed the depth of their feelings, proving that their level of chemistry is gold dust. Even with expectations high, this did not disappoint – with nods to the past, tailor made vows and poignant performances – this scene really earns its place in Emmerdale history.

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!