Fave or Fail? (15-19 Oct 2018)

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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 Cain did a bunk from the village and Sarah finally got a new heart.

Faves

Diane’s Dominance

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h02m40s981My absolute highlight this week had to be Diane. If it wasn’t her amazing face pulling, then it was her brilliant lines of dialogue and her sarcastic commentary on Bernice’s love life. Diane is a gem of a character and her relationship with her on screen kids (including her step kids) is a highlight. Not only was Diane there to give Vic a hug and express her concerns to Robert, but her onscreen relationship with love-life-disaster-zone Bernice was cracking with funny dialogue followed by some comfort and empathy. The two have a fantastic rapport and I’m glad we’ve seen a bit more of them lately as Bernice struggled to keep a lid on her blossoming feelings for Liam and push Daz onto Diane’s plate. I loved Diane’s outrage at being used as a scapegoat when Bernice was trying to get rid of Daz, but it wasn’t long before Diane got her own back by sending him to the BnB when she knew Bernice and Liam were there. My dream would be to get Diane back behind the bar but if that’s out of the question then just more of her would be a great start!

Vic Gets a Storyline

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h08m32s105Since Adam’s departure, Victoria’s main role besides her job in the pub, has been looking after Rebecca, but let’s face it, even when her husband was around Vic didn’t have much in the way of a storyline. Once Vic had discovered Moira was behind Emma’s death that all changed and this week, Vic took a central role in Emmerdale in her quest to find absent Adam. I was really glad to see Victoria’s feelings and pain got a real focus, rather than keeping her in the background supporting others. This week, feeling betrayed by Robert and Aaron, Vic did some digging and ended up in a perilous situation when she got scammed by a lowlife posing as a PI. When the truth about Adam’s location came out, devasted Victoria broke down when she learnt he’d moved on and found someone else. This was a horrible dose of reality for Victoria as she had still be pining for Adam and unable to move on herself. Actress Isabel Hodgins played these scenes with real heartbreak and despite Vic sometimes being like a bull in a china-shop, I found her really empathetic. After a pep talk with Diane, Vic was quick to get glammed up and try and move on with Ellis, but it’s clear even that might be a struggle.

The Beginnings of Something Darker?

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h03m28s238No one quite knows what newbie Maya Stepney is up to just yet, but with a casual disregard for her rules and responsibilities as a teacher, as well as blurting out cruel retorts to ex-stepdaughter Leanna, there’s a hint of a dark side there. Now that Jacob is crushing hard on her, his teacher and his dad’s girlfriend, there’s lots of speculation that this story is heading in a dark grooming storyline. This would be a really interesting and horrible to watch direction but one that would prove a challenging storyline for the characters involved. Done well I think this could be exactly the kind of gritty story Emmerdale would excel at.

Bonus Faves:

  • Matty, Ellis. Ellis, Matty. Vic’s got a tough choice on her hands and so have I! I love both guys and their charm and chemistry with Vic. It’s hard to decide who would make the better pairing
  • Another great scene with Jack Downham this week was the moment Graham gave him Chris Tate’s cufflinks – great bit of Tate family history too
  • Bernice and Liam’s cute but comic hook ups continue to be a massive highlight. With Liam using words like ‘beguiling’ you can see why Bernice fell hard and fast!

Fail

Feeling Distant

vlcsnap-2018-10-21-18h10m26s677We all know Cain Dingle isn’t a man to wear his heart on his sleeve and talk about his problems, but I’m a bit disappointed to see him go all cold and distant when it comes to Moira. If anyone knows about big dark secrets then it’s her and she’d easily be on his side if a war brewed with Debbie. This being soap, Moira’s bound to discover Cain’s guilty secret eventually but I can’t help but feel there’s been a disappointing lack of Cain and Moira content ever since they reunited. When Cain supported Moira during her Emma confessions, we saw the powerful onscreen chemistry that makes Coira so beloved but lately they’ve hardly been seen together and this is a real missed opportunity. If Cain and Moira don’t get some decent screentime when this all comes out in the open then I’ll be very disappointed!

Fave or Fail? (24-28 Sep 2018)

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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 great week in the Dales as Vanity shared those three little words and Moira confessed to killing Emma to Matty and Vic.

Faves

Exposed Secrets

vlcsnap-2018-09-29-09h23m41s338It wasn’t long ago that Victoria was nominated on this blog as one of Emmerdale’s most underrated characters so it’s been fantastic this week to see her front and centre of the show. Not only was Vic battling with her feelings for BFF Matty this week, as the pair gave into a passionate snog (yay!) but she was also thrown into turmoil after learning that Adam took the rap for Emma’s death and Moira was the real culprit. Not only this, but she found out that her future brother in law Aaron knew about it this whole time. What I love about this story is that there’s no villain here, no black and white. I feel for both Moira AND Victoria, and that’s the beauty of a good story. My only wish is that Emmerdale hadn’t ruined Adam and Victoria’s marriage so close to his exit and had her not mention him for months following his departure, because that weakens the impact of her upset a little.

Consequences for Moira

vlcsnap-2018-09-29-09h21m05s161Recently I bemoaned Emmerdale’s lack of follow-up when it came to Moira’s PTSD and huge murder reveal, being that overall she’d been mostly unaffected. After a few months of misery, a reunion with Cain seemed to almost fix all her problems. It was a welcome relief for viewers and Moira alike but put a full stop to the conclusion of Emma’s storyline that never really seemed feasible. Though Emma’s death and the fall out lasted far longer than it should have, making Moira her killer was a massive decision that should have had far reaching ramifications. But it didn’t. It was a bold move, but one that never really materialised. Might we finally be getting the shockwaves the story deserved? I hope this gives Moira something juicy again as Natalie J Robb is far too good to spend another year around Butler’s table not doing much.

Rebecca’s Struggles

vlcsnap-2018-09-29-09h15m57s069It’s only taken two years but the writing for Rebecca has finally made her feel like a fully fleshed out, consistent character, vocalising her struggles rather than her brain injury only there to benefit other plots. Even though we all know Ross is due to exit from Emmerdale soon, his supportive and tender relationship with Rebecca has brought out the best in both characters. Rebecca’s pain at not being able to be a reliable mother for Seb and her loneliness feel like they’re being properly explored rather than her simply being used as either a plot device for Lachlan or Robert, or a comedy bit-part in the pub. Hopefully now Emmerdale have acknowledged that she’s an isolated character whose had six months from hell, they will continue to give her a consistent voice and agency in her own stories.

Everyone Loves Dr C

vlcsnap-2018-09-29-09h08m44s351Was it the stubble? The endearing sadness of a divorcee? Was it because Liam’s self-confessed highlight of the week was choosing his kitchen worktops? Whatever it was this week, everyone seemed to have fallen head over heels for Dr Cavanagh and Bernice wasn’t even in the village! There’s something oh-so charming and swoony about Liam that I was right there with Diane and Kerry in fawning all over him – and let’s face it, he’s far more of a catch than dull Daz. As Liam tried to fake reasons to call Bernice, this was exactly the kind of light-hearted watchable story in Emmerdale that I love and it made me even more glad he’s been made a regular character in the show. Hurry back Bernice before you get pipped to the post!

Meeting Obadiah

Charity amp; Vanessa 26th September 2018 Part 3 - YouTubeIt was great to meet Charity’s father this week, with the brilliant Paul Copley in the role. Both he and Emma Atkins had a short time to build up and on screen rapport but their conversations were compelling to watch, especially as we learnt about the suicide of Charity’s mum. Throughout the Bails story, despite the impressive performances, there’s been a lot of repetition and it hasn’t shone many new lights on Charity as a person. Bringing in more of her background in terms of her parents was new for us and gave her childhood an interesting dimension. However the introduction of Obadiah and meeting him seemed far too rushed and I wish these had been the scenes Emmerdale had spent longer on rather than the stop/start stalling with Ryan.

Fail

No Empathy

Charity amp; Vanessa 24th September 2018 Part 2 - YouTubeThank god for Vanessa this week, one of the few people in Charity’s life to offer any sort of empathy or compassion for her behaviour in the wake of Bails’s trial. The Dingles, on the other hand, had me raging. It wasn’t that long ago that Lisa and Aaron both went through similar hell after facing their rapist in court and the Dingles rallied round to support their loved ones. With Charity it’s been a different story. Sure, Charity’s struggling made her destructive and uncontrollable, but Zak and Chas’s bulldozing “Dingle Court” method was completely aggressive and tone deaf to what Charity needed. It is a difficult situation for a family to work through, but out of everyone you’d expect Chas to be a bit more understanding – you can’t imagine her taking such a hard line with Aaron, can you? Much like the Dingles not bothering to show up to court, I felt that this level of harshness from the family was hard to believe, designed to make Charity spiral than being something stemming naturally from their perception of Charity. They might think Charity’s strong and at times selfish, but I don’t buy that the family would be so lacking in empathy after something like this.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 Sep 2018)

faveorfail

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 Lachlan locked up for life as Matty overheard something suspicious from Moira and Cain.

Faves

Family Secrets Exposed

vlcsnap-2018-09-23-13h21m08s813Ellis has only been in the village five minutes but his believable rapport with mum Jessie makes him feel like he’s been around for a long time already. This week Marlon discovered the secret Jessie had been keeping, about her son in prison and we finally got the depth to Jessie that the character needed. This story gave Jessie’s character focus rather than just being the cheery headteacher, now Marlon’s girlfriend. It gave us a good chance to understand what makes Jessie tick and why she’s so determined to make a good impression. Pretty much all the village has had run ins with the law, but Jessie’s concern that their family would be labelled, that Billy would be another statistic about black young men felt like a believable concern and an interesting story to tell. I’m sure it won’t be long until Billy arrives in the village and creates more fractures between Ellis and Jessie, but right now I think these characters have a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to their future in Emmerdale.

Reopening Old Wounds

vlcsnap-2018-09-23-13h18m09s509Moira’s fury was unleashed this week during a school event celebrating past students’ achievements as she was confronted with a rude and transphobic parent. When the snooty woman criticised Moira’s parenting, badmouthing her children as she referenced Holly’s drug addiction, Adam’s murder charge and Matty’s transition, Moira grabbed the woman by the throat and told her how proud she was of her children. Not only was it great to see a ballsy return to form for Moira, but it was good to see her struggle and then resolve her awkwardness about how to talk about Matty’s transition. Her scenes with Matty have been good and I’m glad they haven’t glossed over the times where Moira might find it hard to know what to say. I’m also really happy that Emmerdale are revisiting Emma’s murder and Moira’s guilt as it seemed like that story was brushed under the carpet to facilitate Adam’s exit and keep Moira away from prison. This seems like a good way for the story to have a longer impact on the Barton family and more believable consequences.

Family Pep Talk

vlcsnap-2018-09-23-13h22m39s284It was a small aspect of the week’s events but I really enjoyed the scene of Aaron seeking advice about being a father from Chas and Paddy. Since Aaron’s been busy with his own family, there’s been a real lack of involvement of Aaron in Chas’s pregnancy, especially seeing as he’s been off screen for weird reasons a lot of the time (chickenpox anyone?). But as Paddy has been a surrogate father to Aaron, it seemed only right for Aaron to talk to him about being a dad to Seb, and I wish Emmerdale would make more of this parallel. Here’s hoping with Chas and Paddy’s tragedy around the corner, their stories can intersect a little more.

Fails

Never-ending Tragedy

vlcsnap-2018-09-23-13h19m08s996After Rebecca’s outlandish and ridiculous captivity and cringy return to the village (the graveside appearance was far more laughable than it was dramatic), it’s been a pretty miserable return for her. After over a month sitting in her own muck and being tied, chained and gaslighted, things didn’t exactly improve when she got back to Emmerdale and struggled with the trauma. It’s been one miserable event after the next for Rebecca, having just learnt to cope with her brain injury Rebecca now has to cope with the fallout of her family’s murder, Lachlan’s true colours and all the associated PTSD. The only thing Rebecca had going for her was her son and now she can’t even be trusted to see him. Isn’t this unrelentingly cruel for one character? And it’s only a few months since we had very similar scenes of her realising Seb was safer with Robert, why are we getting such a miserable repeat? After months of this, shouldn’t Emmerdale give her a break, a bit of hope? It’s been pretty horrible to watch. She’s got no friends, no family and no real ties, except through Seb, isn’t it about time Emmerdale gave her a life?

Massive Anti-Climax

vlcsnap-2018-09-23-13h18m39s910I can’t say for sure that this really is the end for Lachlan. There is always time for a final hurrah in true soap style where he breaks free from prison and heads up an explosive showdown, but then that might just be stepping on the toes of superior supervillain Cameron Murray. But if this really is the end for Lachlan, then what a huge let down! After a few weeks of dragging out his time in prison (following the dragging months of him becoming a serial killer and covering it up), Emmerdale relied on the ludicrous Rebecca captivity story and the two wise-cracking coppers to create Lachlan’s exit. Why? The success of Lachlan’s story relied heavily on the chilling charisma of actor Thomas Atkinson and he deserved far more than this whimper of an exit. I can’t help but feel his last scenes should have been an arrest, or his cell door being bolted, not a half-hearted walk back down the prison corridor. It lacked all the thrills, complex emotions and excitement that were so pivotal to Lachlan’s best moments. As someone quite rightly pointed out on Twitter – Emmerdale sacrificed our beloved Gerry for this?! This damp squib of an ending? I feel cheated.

7 Recent Storylines With Potential That Just Vanished

I’ve noticed a strange trend in 2018 – the disappearing storyline! While other plots drag on for months and months, some stories with potential just seem to vanish into thin air. Now, I’m not talking stories that took a disappointing turn (like Ross’s acid attack) but these are moments that were delivered with great performances, lots of excitement and press and then…vanished!

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Moira and the impact of killing Emma

Making Moira a killer was a huge decision and one that sent a chill of terror into Moira fans, but they needn’t have worried because any impact on her was short lived. After a quiet year for Moira, mainly because they were trying to keep her shock pregnancy a secret, she had a traumatic end to 2017, suffering both post-natal depression and extreme guilt for her part in killing Emma. With Moira such a beloved and ordinary character in the village (ordinary as far as you can be for a soap character!) it was always going to be difficult to give her any long-term consequences for killing off another character. But within a matter of months, she’d reunited with love Cain and everything had been forgiven and forgotten when it came to the Barton boys. The aftermath Moira’s breakdown was intense and destructive, but although she lost son Adam, psychologically she seems happier than ever now! Perhaps making Moira a killer was too jarring and Emmerdale weren’t sure how to deal with it long-term, but if this was the case, maybe she was the wrong character for the role. I love Moira and I like seeing her happy and settled, but it does feel like everything was brushed too neatly under the carpet.

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Joe Tate vs the world

Perhaps the worst offender on the list is the complete waste of Joe Tate since his wonderful reveal in January. Excitement was high when the Tom Waterhouse charade fell apart and he was revealed to be Chris Tate’s son, leading to a deliciously evil take over of the village next to stoic butler figure Graham. Every doubt we’d had about the “Tom” storyline was revealed to be deliberate, including the all-too-perfect romance with Debbie. But as Joe made enemies left right and centre, demolishing Wishing Well, taking Home James Haulage from Robert and pissing off everyone in sight, his position as top dog and loathed rich boy just couldn’t be sustained. Living in the big house and have no familial ties, it seemed like Emmerdale swiftly realised Joe needed more than just enemies and his redemption came in the shape of his new-found love for dour Debbie Dingle. While a slow love-hate romance might’ve worked, it’s now as if all of Joe’s Machiavellian behaviour has been dropped in favour of a bedside vigil for Sarah. Where is the village antagonist we were promised? Why isn’t he living up to the Tate name and has fallen into the trap of being a wet weekend who has the odd tantrum? With all his vendettas forgotten he’s an aimless character and a real waste of that Tate legacy.

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Liv’s drinking and asexuality

Viewers had long been promised a gritty plot for talented Isobel Steele and it finally emerged onto screens this year. Or did it? Compared to issue-led plots for other characters Liv’s drinking problems have been vaguely handled and half-arsed. Don’t get me wrong, Isobel has given sensitive and emotional performances as Liv tried to navigate adolescence, but after a spell in youth offenders and a brief Lachlan-fuelled relapse, her problem with alcohol has almost been treated as “fixed”. Are we meant to believe she’s all fine now? That her time inside “fixed her” (a worrying implication if so)? It feels like this complex issue has been brushed under the carpet rather than giving it the treatment it deserves. Is this so they can make Liv start drinking again when the story needs it, or has it just been forgotten about? It’s a similar case with the hints about her asexuality. Liv has spent a little time questioning this, but it hasn’t been given the airtime that it deserves and that seems like another waste of Isobel’s talents to leave Liv’s interesting struggles untouched. Instead of piling on more angst (like her recent exam failures) can’t Emmerdale do a better job of resolving the stories they’ve already laid the foundations of?

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The Kings – business and health problems

I’m a huge fan of the Kings so I was excited to see them get involved in the Tate take-over at the start of 2018. Jimmy had long been relegated to comedy buffoon with Nicola as his nagging wife, so it was great to see a bit of the powerhouse King family history remembered. But after teaming up with Robert to double-cross Joe, the story collapsed and disappeared. We haven’t heard anything about the new Home James Haulage work team or what a nightmare Joe is as a boss. It’s business as usual. All of Jimmy’s health issues and stress have disappeared (is he okay? Who knows!) so there was no emotional story there and so instead the Kings have been underused for another year which is a real shame as they’re one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets.

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Priya’s struggling mental health

Before she took on a role at Home Farm (which seems like a great move!) Priya had a difficult start to the year. The first few months of 2018 we saw signs of Priya feeling lonely and exhausted and with Jai using her as a babysitter, it all got a bit much for her. This really seemed like it could be the beginning of a decent storyline for her. It isn’t the first time Priya’s had mental health struggles and with 2017 seeing the end to her marriage, and a disastrous affair with Pete, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her feel her life was in tatters. Priya’s an ambitious woman so to see her have a bit of a breakdown about her stalled life could have been a great story, but it just fizzled out instead. It’s about time the Sharmas had something a bit more serious and emotional to do and Fiona Wade would have done a great job with it.

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Syd MacFarlane’s threat to Aaron

If you don’t remember Syd MacFarlane then I don’t blame you. Syd had a very brief appearance in January and was let free during Adam’s escape from his prison van, but he made another cameo in April, blackmailing Aaron and Robert for some hard cash in one of the most lacklustre plots of the Spring. Syd rocked up, threatened Aaron, then held him hostage for all of half an episode just so that Robert could sign away their flat and his business to Joe Tate for the ransom. As we know, that rivalry with Joe had no real long-term consequences and Syd’s random arrival was just as fleeting and insignificant as his exit. Syd and his threats had no impact, even though Aaron and the MacFarlanes had a long history that could’ve been explored, meaning Syd was a 2D “villain of the week” character. Gone and forgotten instantly. The MacFarlanes could have started real trouble for the Dingles, for Robert’s business or even given Joe some tips! Instead it turned into one of 2018’s most pointless and disappointing subplots, wasting both fan favourite couples, Robron and Coira, who briefly joined forces to take down Syd.

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Eliza’s health problems

Instead of helping his dad with dating disasters, Jai could have had a much more emotionally engaging storyline had Emmerdale continued to be true to the drama of Eliza’s health concerns. Megan is wasted in wishy-washy romance plots with Frank and Jai spends too long in the factory – but when Eliza was taken ill, I thought this was the start of a relatable and engaging story about parents and their disabled infant. When Eliza was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in late 2017 I thought this was going to be the start of a great story for the parents, but that went nowhere. Then again at the start of the year when bruises appeared on her and they suspected Eliza, this looked to be like a dramatic and heartful family story, but nothing ever came from it. All the actors involved are capable of big performances, but this is another non-starter wasting their talents.

6 Emmerdale Performances Worth Voting For

The longlist for the British Soap Awards is now open and our Emmerdale favourites are up for the coveted accolades. With six of Emmerdale’s best performers up for awards, I thought I would choose six scenes from the past year to showcase why they deserve a vote or two.

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Best Actor

Ryan Hawley (Robert Sugden)

Robert tries to let go – Christmas Day 2017

With almost all of the special Christmas episode centred on Robert, Ryan Hawley had a huge task carrying the episode after another eventful year of playing heartbroken and vengeful. The final scene of the Christmas Day episode saw a broken Robert defeated and tearful, having given up on reuniting with Aaron for the sake of his well-being. It was a gut-wrenching and beautifully played moment played between him and Danny Miller, showcasing their chemistry and the subtle agony Ryan is able to play on Robert’s face. For a character who can be the viciously smug seducer, Ryan has excelled at showing us Robert’s vulnerable, raw sides this past year.  

Vote for Ryan – Best Actor

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Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle)

Cain’s flashback – November 2017

Loveable rogue Cain Dingle is never far from a car boot kidnap, but with the arrival of his mother Faith and a new son in Isaac, Cain was thrown into turmoil about his childhood. Exploring Cain’s past through a specially constructed episode using recast younger actors, Emmerdale explored the heart breaking harsh upbringing Chas and Cain endured. Cain is a man who holds his emotions tight so when Jeff Hordley gets to show us Cain’s exposed pain, we feel every tear. In Cain’s childhood home, Jeff managed to evoke a lifetime of agony and confusion in a single look and his onscreen dynamic with Sally Dexter makes you believe in them totally as mother and son.

Vote for Jeff – Best Actor

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Michael Parr (Ross Barton)

Ross’s Acid Attack Prognosis – Feb 2018

We were so used to seeing hard-man Ross let nothing stand in his way until he became a victim of mistaken identity and an acid attack at the start of the year. It’s been a complete change to see Ross lose his confidence and bravado and that switch from arrogant bloke to vulnerable and uncertain man has been one actor Michael Parr has relished. As doctors revealed his prognosis, it Ross being left alone when Michael really shone, shedding all of the Ross we’d come to know and showing us this broken man instead. As Ross continues to struggle with new challenges and a difficulty to accept his future, it’s been a welcome and impressive transformation.

Vote for Michael – Best Actor

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Best Actress

Emma Atkins (Charity Dingle)

Charity’s Abuse Reveal – April 2018

Since her return in 2016, Charity has mostly been used for (brilliant) comic relief and razor sharp lines, but this year has seen her take on a hugely emotional storyline as Charity opened up about her past. The story might only just have begun but Emma Atkins’ performance when Charity told Vanessa what she’d suffered at the hands of DI Bails, was powerful and harrowing. Emma’s incredible portrayal dug deep into the heart of Charity’s character, breaking down the walls Charity has built around herself and it’s clear that these levels of performances will continue to resonate as Charity’s story progresses.

Vote for Emma – Best Actress

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Lucy Pargeter (Chas Dingle)

Chas’s pregnancy decision – February 2018

There’s never been a quiet year for Chas Dingle, but things are looking a bit happier for her lately as she’s settled down with Paddy. Things didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts for the pair though and Chas was thrown into turmoil in February when she discovered she was pregnant. Despite Chas’s pregnancy decision being a divisive story among villagers and viewers, Lucy always gives Chas a vivacity and strength even when Chas herself is struggling. There are raw emotions in her performances which meant you couldn’t help but be on Chas’s side during those emotional scenes when she explained why she couldn’t go through the pregnancy. Even though Chas has now changed her mind and wants to keep the baby, I don’t expect it will be plain sailing. Chas Dingle never has it easy…

Vote for Lucy – Best Actress

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Natalie J Robb (Moira Dingle)

Moira’s guilt – December 2017

Wow, what a year Moira had. If 2016 wasn’t traumatic enough for her, the end of Moira’s 2017 was lifechanging. After being caught up in the events of Emma’s breakdown, Moira found herself giving birth to a shock baby. But that wasn’t all! As flashbacks revealed, Moira was also responsible for Emma’s murder, after being goaded by her to do it. Natalie J Robb’s captivating performances made Moira’s guilt, grief and PND so agonising. It was a shock to everyone that Moira killed Emma, but Natalie made Moira’s actions believable for the audience and unbearable for her to deal with, having knock-on effects to her feelings towards Isaac too. These were powerful scenes of guilt and confession, made even greater by the partnership between Natalie and Jeff.

Vote for Natalie – Best Actress  

And you can of course vote for Emmerdale as Best Soap too! Longlist voting closes Tuesday 24th April 2018.

Fave or Fail? (15-19 Jan 2018)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Joe stepped up his revenge on the Dingles this week as he had Wishing Well demolished  but it was another great week for Emmerdale!

Faves

King of the Castle

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-20h58m52s817Now that the Whites have cleared out of the big house (RIP and all that), it’s been bliss to see Joe Tate take the mantel as the head of Home Farm. This week he deviously held a big house warming, including the Dingles, and ensured everyone was out of the way for the demolition crew to destroy Wishing Well. Evil genius! What’s so great about Joe’s take over, apart from him being charming and duplicitous, is that unlike the Whites he’s given new energy to the place and has integrated himself in the village already. He’s given new life to Debbie in revenge mode and it was a risky move for Emmerdale to partially demolish Wishing Well but exciting to see Joe shake things up. He’s already got under the skin of the Dingles as a real threat to their lives, made enemies and allies, and yet there’s still so much there to explore.

Mysterious Man

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-20h59m52s546The question on everyone’s lips right now has got to be: just who is Graham Foster? Part vigilante action hero helping and empathising with the Dingles and part ally and confidante to Joe. We learnt a tiny bit about how the two are linked this week, with Graham having a history of alcoholism, but there are still so many questions. Graham and Joe have a fascinating dynamic and now that Graham stepped in to secretly help the Dingle boys, we care about him as a character too. I’m very interested to see how he fits in with the rest of the village, if he has a dark side, and just how much of an influence he’ll be on Joe.

Lost Boy

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-21h02m16s288Lachlan’s remorse and recovery continued this week as he returned to spooky and desolate Home Farm. Once again Thomas Atkinson managed to make Lachlan sympathetic as he struggled to cope with seeing the last of his family’s belongings in the house and turned to Belle for support. His dark and troubled character has been compelling in the wake of the crash and now that Belle is so firmly on his side, the fallout from the truth is surely going to be devastating to her mental health. Definitely one to watch.

On/Off/On/Off

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-20h58m01s249Cain and Moira reunited, then broke up, again this week. I know – it’s hard to keep track! After the violence the other week, I was a bit perplexed that this was barely touched on before they shared heartfelt moments and slept together this week. Despite this confusing state of affairs there was a warm and funny morning scene and later when (having coldly dumped Harriet) Cain returned to see Moira for a new start, the chemistry between Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb was as intense and palpable as ever. But Moira put a stop to it. Maybe wise considering the circumstances but this on/off situation frustrating even when it sets sparks flying in their scenes and they’re clearly meant to be.

Fails

David’s Dalliance

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-21h00m24s396Just when you think Emmerdale won’t go down the predictable route…they did. Insert Tyra “we were all rooting for you” Banks GIF. After such a great start to 2018 for Emmerdale, did they really need to do this to poor Tracy. Sure, their marriage has been light on drama, but after all that insecurity, David did the thing she most feared and slept with ex Leyla (sound familiar anyone?). I’m not hugely invested in David and Tracy as a couple and I do like David and Leyla’s friendship a lot – but why ruin it? Tracy’s heartbreak is going to be horrible to watch – especially as Amy Walsh does vulnerability so well – but why put her through this lazy plot? What’s worse is that Leyla just experienced the betrayal of cheating first hand (would she really do that to Tracy so soon?!) and actress Roxy Shahidi is on maternity leave so won’t be able to resolve this plot for months! With the infidelity happening off screen we didn’t even get to see any build up so David cheating has come from nowhere and makes him look like a dick. Please no surprise baby when Leyla returns!

Killer Confrontation

vlcsnap-2018-01-20-21h03m14s684This week, pushed again to the brink (this is becoming a bit of a habit), tortured Moira confessed to Ross that she was the one to kill Emma. What followed was a really uncomfortable confrontation between the hyper-aggressive Ross and Pete versus the vulnerable Moira. I suppose herein lies the difficult of making someone like Moira, the everyday woman, into a killer – how do you believably move on from that? Despite everything Emma did, Ross and Pete were never going to calmly learn the truth but the violent outburst and snarly words really tipped the power balance when Moira’s guilt has made her into a wreck. It wasn’t nice to watch. By the next day the lads had almost had a change of heart after being so vehement towards her. It was a hard leap in the space of a few episodes and not one I think really worked. However, this story and Moira’s misery has felt a bit of a drag so if this means we can move on so be it.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2017 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my Top 10 of the Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2017. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale and the reason I think it’s been so successful in 2017.

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10. Lydia Hart

Kooky Lydia made several appearances in 2016 and I was quickly taken with actress Karen Blick and her great grasp of comedy, so it was a complete joy to see her become a show regular in 2017. Lydia quickly established herself in the village, living with and bringing laughter back to Laurel’s house, becoming a cleaner for the factory and the Whites and pairing up with Sam. Lydia feels right at home in the village and although her oddball humour hasn’t disappeared, Emmerdale managed to make her more human by exploring the long term impact of losing her husband. I can’t wait to see Lydia and Sam get married in 2018!

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9. Creativity and Risks

Soaps are such a long running staple in British households that sometimes it feels like so many stories have already been told. What I’ve enjoyed about Emmerdale recently is its attempts to take risks and be creative within the realms of soap. Whether it’s taking the time to explore on story in depth and dedicate a whole episode to that tale, to arrange stories in non-linear ways to keep viewers guessing, or use flashbacks and different storytelling devices to explore a character in depth. Emmerdale have used all of these effectively in the year to take a closer look and examine the characters with love and I hope they continue to make original choices in future.

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8. Super Soap Week 2.0

Little was going to top 2016’s Super Soap Week – an impressive, visually stunning treat – but 2017’s Barton centric week was full of thrills, shocks and centred on the fantastic Gillian Kearney. From barn explosions, killer confessions, a shock birth, a shooting, hallucinations, a kidnap and a murder – they packed a great deal into one week, perhaps a bit too much at times!

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7. The Thomas Kids

Emmerdale’s cast is fantastic, but even more impressive is its cast of child actors. In 2017 actors Rosie Bentham and Alfie Clarke impressed everyone with their ability to give such touching and heartfelt performances through the Ashley’s dementia storyline. The Thomas family scenes resonated deeply with so many viewers and much of this was down to the moving portrayals of grief by Ashley’s children, Gabby and Arthur. Even after Ashley was gone, the two didn’t take a backseat and played a key role in Emma’s storyline too, with Gabby even a suspect in her murder. Both Rosie and Alfie are talented individuals and I really look forward to what 2018 will bring!

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6. Big Performances

Above all else, Emmerdale in 2017 was the year of fantastic performances. What I loved about the year’s stories is that it gave so many of the actors a chance to shine in some stand-out moments, rather that a small handful of actors dominating. 2017 saw big emotional and dramatic roles for lots of the cast, earning acting awards for a variety of the cast and giving everyone a juicy role. You just have to scroll through my Scene of the Week choices to witness the range of performances throughout year – almost everyone had their chance to shine in the spotlight in 2017 and I hope that continues in 2018.

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5. Rhona’s Rape

Emmerdale told a very powerful story of control, abuse and rape in 2017 as Rhona was raped by Pierce on their wedding day. The effectiveness of this storyline came from the slow burn nature of Pierce’s control and darkness, and the positive way Rhona took control of her life in the aftermath. Jonathan Wrather was chilling and compelling, playing Pierce as remorseless and dangerous in his inferiority complex. Zoe Henry was breathtakingly good, from Rhona’s traumatised state all the way through to her bravery during the trial and I appreciated the way Emmerdale didn’t let this story drag or fall into cliché by having people not believe her, or by letting Pierce back into her life.

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4. The Robron Wedding

Despite what transpired in the rest of 2017 for the fan-favourite couple, the Robron wedding was still a huge highlight of the year. It had everything: warmth, humour, family and romance. In true Emmerdale style, Dingle mania took over and the boys escaped to the garage to exchange their vows in private which was a glorious throwback to the origins of their relationship. These episodes, even with their bittersweet tinge, showed exactly why the pairing are so beloved and why the onscreen chemistry between Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley withstands the most trying of storylines. Here’s hoping 2018 focuses on happier times for Robron!

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3. Emma’s Unravelling

Emma Barton was by far one of my favourite soap characters of 2017 and despite her needing a climatic end, I already miss her. Gillian Kearney played all her complexities perfectly and made her so compelling to watch. Having taken up Christianity after James’s death to absolve herself, Emma’s inner conflict continued to struggle as she compartmentalised her desperate behaviour against her newfound religion. She could be reckless as well as being fragile and her obsessive nature made her unpredictable too, meaning even little Arthur became a victim of hers. Her downfall did come a little too slowly, but with Gillian’s captivating and often sympathetic performances, I didn’t mind that we got to see as much of Emma as possible in 2017!

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2. Faith Dingle

It’s hard to believe that Faith Dingle has been on our screens less than a year because truly I can’t imagine Emmerdale without her. Bold, brash, larger than life, with a wicked tongue and a huge heart, Faith has breathed new life into Emmerdale. From the troubled relationships with her children, to her own heartbreaking breast cancer secret, Faith isn’t just about the big laughs and outrageous comments. Faith is the kind of character Emmerdale does best, delivering barbed comments and saucy winks, as well as revealing someone with a dark history and deep insecurities. Sally Dexter has made Faith into such a memorable character, even managing to nab all the best lines. Bring on 2018 and more of Faith!

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1. Ashley’s Demise

Without a doubt, Emmerdale best story of 2017 and the one that will be heralded for years to come is Ashley’s death. This long running story is one that touches the hearts of many families struggling with the same illness and was told with honesty and warmth. Actors John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy gave exceptional performances as the couple separated by this tragedy, with the acting and writing exceeding itself week on week. It was painful at every turn, and yet Emmerdale managed to keep moments of humour to balance the strain on viewers. This family and these characters felt more like people we knew rather than figures on TV and our hearts broke over and over as the situation worsened and Ashley finally died. It’s also been good to see that Ashley is never forgotten – his presence and the impact of his death is still something that features in the storylines and the behaviours of those who loved him and I’m sure that will continue in 2018.

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2017

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Emmerdale had another huge year full of great storylines and incredible performances, but it wasn’t all perfect. Here’s my look at where it went wrong in 2017.

Make sure you read my Top 10 Best Bits of 2017 later today!

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5. Anti Climaxes and Dragging Storylines

One of the biggest issues of 2017 was the pacing of storylines. Huge and long running stories that ended on a whimper, or stories that dragged on and on forever. There were notable exceptions of course, but sometimes stories ran on way past their sell by date. Even some of the best stories, like Emma’s downfall, could have benefitted from a faster, punchier conclusion. Smaller subplots like Tracy’s erotic novel ran for months, squeezing out every last second of humour until nothing was funny anymore; Rakesh took months to leave after his lies were exposed; I felt jaded by Vic and Adam’s lovely marriage ending several times in repetitive ways; similarly fatigued by Robron’s nine-month relationship breakdown (and Robert’s never ending revenge); Dan and the teen gang/Josh story lasted weeks and went nowhere having no impact on any of the families it involved; much like Jai’s drawn out relationship with Nell (which did benefit from some brilliant final moments) it’s had no long term effect on the characters, making any investment in the story pointless. So here’s hoping for 2018 that the fat is trimmed and stories aren’t stalled to delay shocks and twists, before they become anti-climatic.

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4. Sizzle Free Love Affairs

My biggest wish for 2017 was less cheating after the adultery-fest of 2016 and while that didn’t really happen, 2017 saw the rise of something just as disheartening: the sizzle free love affair. We had Cain and Harriet getting jiggy in the vestry – a combo of good and evil that should have been sinfully seductive viewing but fell flat in Cain and Moira’s shadow, especially when Harriet seems to be selling herself short. We had Megan and Frank – a dry and boring relationship which even Frank’s fling with Charity couldn’t liven up. Then there was Chas and Paddy – a strange and incompatible mismatch which requires strong cringe glands. And finally, the plot that soured our summers, Pete and Priya. Tipped as this big sexy affair for the summer, both characters suffered from horrible personalities and sub-zero chemistry levels. All the bum grabbing and clothes tearing in the world couldn’t save them.

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3. Finn the Stalker

It feels like forever ago now, particularly as poor Finn is now six feet under, but one of the worst plots of 2017 had to be Finn the stalker. Finn had been a fairly loveable, sweet geeky guy until this story saw him become clingy and crazy in his attempts to be with his boyfriend Kasim. Despite the unhinged behaviour being explained as Finn trying to cope with his dad’s death, Finn grew desperate and unlikeable in extreme ways (graffitiing the word “Yestergay” on Kasim’s wall for one) which made little sense and ruined what people loved about the character. Thankfully after a short trip to Australia, Finn’s personality went back to normal and we could all just forget about the bad plot. It’s just unfortunate that after all that, he ended up dead. Finn deserved better.

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2. The White Family

The White family were featured as one of my worst parts of 2016 and here they are again! Things didn’t improve from the previous year, as throughout 2017 the Whites continued to be isolated from the rest of the village and relied on exposition-heavy backstories to provide depth and create more inner-family conflict. Their entitled attitudes and unlikeable personalities meant their circular and tired arguments didn’t make for engaging viewing. Even Robert’s tedious and endless revenge panto plot didn’t improve things as it lobotomised the family making them look more gullible than ever before. Ultimately it felt like the confusion about what to do with the family ran on for another year as their limbo between victims and villains never settled. Another year of wasted potential. Their bad deeds (erm Andy, Alicia to name a few) were barely mentioned and their real points of interest (Lawrence’s sexuality, the family’s nastiness) ignored. If only they’d embraced the Whites as true, self-righteous villains (like they’ve just started to with Lachlan) then we might have seen something good.

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1. Robron Smashed to Bits

Oh boy. Where to begin.

After Aaron’s traumatic child abuse story of 2016, he was owed some happiness in 2017, right? Wrong. After a romantic and heartfelt wedding, Aaron was packed off to prison where he was tortured and abused in well-acted but nasty scenes that felt like a cruel step too far. At the time I questioned the darkness of these scenes after the hopeful future that was earned after Gordon’s trial. Once again throughout the year, Aaron might as well have been used as a voodoo doll. If people weren’t desensitised and sick of Aaron’s misery then 2017 might have pushed them over the edge.

On the outside, Robert was in bits and after learning that Aaron was taking Spice (a well meaning and educational drugs plot this wasn’t), Robert imploded their relationship by sleeping with continual thorn-in-Robron’s-side Rebecca. This was never going to be a popular move just three weeks after the wedding, but at every step the story became more wearing, more frustrating and more miserable. The handling of Robert’s bisexuality had already been praised in the LGBT community but the clumsy way his sexual identity had been inexplicably and repeatedly linked to being faithful in the dialogue meant his cheating was hard to not see as a huge backwards step and a muddled, dated message to the audience. Having spent so long redeeming Robert in the eyes of the viewers, Aaron and his loved ones it was depressing to see that destroyed.

It didn’t stop there, of course. We had the inevitable pregnancy, more drugs, more self harm, more arguments and finally a big split. Rebecca’s personality shifted when the story required, having been introduced as a flighty vixen in 2016 eager to get Robert for herself, Rebecca became the eternal martyr lurching through multiple personalities when the story required it. Rebecca’s point of view was barely featured, meaning her flip-flopping decisions never showed much more of a purpose than to cause more grief between the already fractured couple. Beyond frustrating.

Having once had soap’s hottest property in the palm of their hand, even the most ardent Robron fan was exhausted and despondent. So after all that and promises behind the scenes for a reunion in 2018, is it too much to hope for a less torturous 2018?

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Dec 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! Adam was arrested for Emma’s murder and his fate looks to be sealed after his false confession.

Faves

Adam’s Agony

_347 Adam amp; Victoria 21st December 2017 Part 4 - YouTubeHats off to actor Adam Thomas this week as Adam Barton was faced with the most agonising of decisions and ended up confessing to a murder he didn’t commit. With the knowledge his struggling mum was the real killer and pressurised with the thought that she’d never cope in prison, Adam did the unthinkable and spun a web of lies for the police, knowing it fed into their theories about him. Adam is already the obvious suspect and his fate was already sealed, but seeing Adam realise this and write his own prison sentence was unimaginably horrible. Throughout his last few years on Emmerdale, Adam’s acting talents have been wasted but he truly gave some crushing performances this week proving what an underrated talent he is. It seems like a pretty cruel exit for Adam Barton, but one that has already given us so many great moments to watch.

Brenda’s Bad Week

Emmerdale - Brenda Figures Out Bob's Dirty Little Secret - YouTubeMy heart broke for poor Brenda this week as she discovered Bob had cheated on her. After Bob and Brenda’s adorable slow burn romance which developed during her brain tumour illness, they’ve been one of the most stable couples in the village. Sure, they’ve also been a little dull and light on the drama – but with all the other ups and downs in The Dales, we need a bit of stability. But after Bob and Laurel’s one night stand, it was only a matter of time before Brenda found out the truth. We haven’t seen Lesley Dunlop have any big storylines to get her teeth into for a while, but she really delivered on Brenda’s absolute devastation and her heart-wrenching humiliation right before Christmas had Love Actually vibes. How could you, Bob? How could you?!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

vlcsnap-2017-12-24-17h32m56s942Emmerdale’s highly anticipated weird and wonderful Christmas special airs tomorrow, with Robert “Scrooge” Sugden taking centre stage for A Christmas Carol inspired treat. Friday’s episode saw the lead up to that with the lonely and miserable man overdoing it on whiskey (cos that worked out so well before) and almost getting kicked out of the pub. From Rob’s cringey boozed up sing-song with Doug and Gerry, to his defeated and foolish attempts to win back Aaron, it was hard not to feel for the bloke. Ryan Hawley does heartbreak so well. Despite my totally, totally unbiased and unashamed love for Robert, his drunken behaviour had disaster written all over it and the episode ended with him being hit by a car. Cue Monday’s special episode! It was a great lead up to the main event, with the irresistible Robron pull still there, simmering under the surface. I can’t wait for the main event!

Fail

Bob’s Betrayal

Emmerdale - Bob Is Floored by Brenda's Decision - YouTubeBob’s on my shit list. There’s no two ways about it. And I am a card carrying Bob Hope fan! If his betrayal of Brenda wasn’t bad enough, he lied about it to Brenda’s face with the lamest excuses you’ve ever heard and was pretty shitty to Laurel too. It isn’t just Bob that gets stuck on the Fail list this week though, it’s also the fact that the lead up to the reveal ticked every cliché in the book. All the misdirection with Brenda almost discovering it was Laurel; Bob and Laurel having an awkward Xmas gathering; those wink-wink-nudge-nudge lines of dialogue. It was all a bit tacky. It’s going to be even harder for Brenda when she finds out the full story – so is it too much to ask that there are no more clichés, like – dare I say it – a pregnancy scare?

Fave or Fail? (11-15 Dec 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 we learnt the shocking truth about Emma’s death!

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Emma’s Final Stand

vlcsnap-2017-12-17-15h51m29s050What a joy it was to see Emma Barton again this week, if only in flashback form! Gillian Kearney helped create such a captivating character in Emma and every performance during the reveal was stellar. The scenes which stood out to me were the ones that took place on the now iconic viaduct as Emma had showdowns with both Ross and Moira. The scenes with Ross showcased their complicated history but was charged and intense, keeping the exchange gripping throughout.  Despite all of Emma’s bad and misguided deeds, it was hard not to feel a slight twinge of sympathy for her at times but her twisted nature was in full force right until the end as she goaded Moira to push her, so that she wouldn’t have to kill herself. In the end it seems fairly fitting that Emma’s death was as complex and interesting as the woman herself, it’s just a shame we had to lose the brilliant Gillian Kearney in the process!

Killer Reveal

vlcsnap-2017-12-17-15h51m15s366Moira killed Emma – now that was a shocker and a half! My money was pretty firmly on Pete as Emma’s’ killer and I was surprised at the reveal, something which doesn’t usually happen when you’re a soap addict! First I was unsure how I felt about feisty farmer Moira being responsible for pushing Emma, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked how unexpected it was. It’s a brand new direction for Moira, who is worth a lot more than just being stuck at Butler’s. This new path has already reignited her deep bond with Cain (Coira fans rejoice!) and let’s face it, no one really blames Moira for what she did. The psychological effect of this one reckless action has already plagued Moira enough to consider drugs and abandon her son and with Emma’s words still haunting her, it’ll be interesting to see how she deals with the guilt and with Adam as prime suspect – how will this pan out in light of his upcoming exit from the show?

Unbreakable Bond

vlcsnap-2017-12-17-15h48m28s520With a protective and observant Cain on the case, it wasn’t long before Moira was forced to reveal she was the one behind Emma’s fall from the viaduct and even though their bond has been slowly repairing (albeit strained) since Isaac’s birth, this week really saw the return of Coira. Granted they’re not back together yet, and Harriet’s presence feels ever more frustrating, but there’s no one that quite shares the relationship that Cain and Moira do. Earlier in the week, with Isaac ill, Cain was the only one able to offer her any real comfort and support and now with her killer secret out in the open, Cain is on hand like never before, unflinching in his love for her. My favourite soap relationships are built on tempestuous love and shared secrets and Coira have both of these, tied together with unbreakable chemistry. Long may it live – the love, the support, the darkness and the rows. They just work.

Style and Substance

vlcsnap-2017-12-17-15h52m52s665You’ve got to had it to Emmerdale again that they really know how to pull out all the stops on their special episodes. Not only did the Emma reveal episodes manage to weave present day and flashback sequence (with a nice noir colouring) but the split narrative maintained the intrigue and tension throughout. It’s been a bit of an unengaging storyline on the whole but these episodes changed that and managed to set up gripping consequences for all the main players.

Fails

Down With This Sort Of Thing

_1050 Aaron amp; Robert 12th December 2017 Aaron Only - YouTubeI’m all for stories of the little people fighting The Man and the Dingles are such a bright and bold family that their moment to fight the good fight should be something for us all to enjoy. I can’t help but feel however that this whole protest plot is a little bit pointless and it feels very unlikely that the Dingles would ever lose Wishing Well cottage. The building is the heart of the Dingles and has been their home for so long it would be like them trying to pretend they needed to demolish the Woolpack – never going to happen. So while we kill time with various members of the family and their placards, alongside Zak and his cough – but I wonder where they’re going with all this. With the demolition not feeling like a real threat, the conflict and the drama is pretty empty and hasn’t been a very engaging watch.

Shouty and Grouchy

Emmerdale - Adam's Own Wife Suspects He's a Murderer! - YouTube (1)It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Adam and Vic were one of the cutest couples in the Dales. They were sweet and chilled once, but now I can’t remember a recent scene where they aren’t shouting at each other. It’s common knowledge now that actor Adam Thomas is leaving Emmerdale which means it’s been hard to really care about Vic and Adam’s make ups and break ups when it won’t be long until they’re separated forever. Lately all their material has been centred around the fact Adam is the lead suspect for Emma’s murder so most of the scenes involve Adam getting smug and unpleasant with the police, panicked Victoria doubting his innocence and the pair of them sniping and shouting at each other. The whole atmosphere between them has become a bit of a drag and honestly after the to-ing and fro-ing and split earlier in the year, it has soured the former sweetness of their coupling. Shame!