4 Emmerdale Spin-Off Ideas

Sometimes six episodes a week just isn’t enough and the drama in the Dales is just too good to be confined to soapy village life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see your favourites thrust into another TV genre? Well wonder no more because here are four ideas for Emmerdale spin-offs I’d love to see happen.

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Laurel and Bob – Crime Drama

Picture this: a headstrong and recently widowed vicar’s wife teams up with a gossipy café owner to solve crimes in the Yorkshire Dales. Think juggling parenthood and faith with gruesome crime scenes and unsolvable mysteries; think inappropriate jokes and revealing conversations being eavesdropped. This could be Emmerdale’s very own answer to Broadchurch as Laurel and Bob prove what a great murder solving team they are. Don’t tell me this would be raking in the viewers on prime time ITV3.

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Moira Down on the Farm

Anyone who mocks you for loving Emmerdale probably still adds “Farm” onto the title, but as we all know, it hasn’t been called that since 1989 and we rarely get to see any actual farming. In fact, seeing animals is a bit of a treat! This dream spin off could see that all change in Emmerdale’s own farming drama. Think: animals in peril, crop diseases, farmer disputes, supermarket take overs, even more romps in barns! And with Moira at the heart of it, what more could you want?

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Emma – Dark Psychological Horror

Emma Barton is one of my favourites in Emmerdale, but being the unhinged villain that she is, she has a shelf life in cosy rural life. But giving her a spin off show full of deadly deeds and unfortunate but grisly horror as people get in her way would be fantastic. Emma’s conflict comes courtesy of her religious calling so give her a Dexter style double life of pious and charitable daily work covering her dark life and you’d be onto a Netflix winner.

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Nicola – Apprentice Style Reality Show

There are very few in Emmerdale as ambitious and ruthless as Nicola King, so why not have her front her own Apprentice-style reality show? Okay doing a reality show based in a fictional world is an out-there idea, but it could easily be a fun YouTube extra! Nicola’s work ethic and task-master routine is usually saved for ball busting or comedy but how about we really see her in charge of a multi-million pound business and destroy those who aren’t cut out for this brutal suited and booted world? I’d watch!

Bonus extra ideas:

  • Lydia Hart’s Dance Studio – think a light and frothy Sunday night rom-com style show, with added Doug and Diane
  • Hotten Police – PC Swirling, DS Mudd, DS Hart…Emmerdale’s had some great coppers in the past – don’t they deserve their own show?
  • Wedding Planners – Megan and Leyla tackle dream weddings, happy and unhappy bride and grooms whilst juggling their own troubled love lives.
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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.

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!

Dress like your fave: Chrissie

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Lady of the manor Chrissie White is trying to redeem herself after a spell of being the village villain but her style has always been about classic, sophisticated glamour. If you’ve got something resembling Chrissie’s budget then you might like this chic and boxy jacket from Hobbs – jackets and blazers are Chrissie’s go-to! Sometimes we see Chrissie in coloured and snug fitting knitwear but this monochrome number would look just as classy. At her most devious we saw Chrissie floating around Home Farm in a lot of black and a lot of blouses and she was never too far from a large handbag, perfect for her size of purse! She’s got a saucy side too (handcuffs anyone?!) so a wine coloured leather-look skirt would be the perfect sexy addition. To finish the look, Chrissie loves a smokey eye and expensive looking jewellery. We might not have the White family’s budget, but you can still get close to that rich girl style.

5 Emmerdale Characters That Could Do With A Shake Up

We’re lucky as Emmerdale fans to have such a brilliant cast of characters, many of whom are capable of inspiring everything from belly laughs to gut-wrenching sobs. But there are a few great characters who are stuck in a rut and feel like they need a little change in direction, a curveball or something unexpected. These are not tired characters ready for the chop, these are good characters whose storylines just need a shake-up. Let me know if you agree!

Ross Barton

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For many viewers Ross Barton is the sexy, lovable rogue. He’s a bit of a bad boy but soft around his adorable son Moses. It’s been like that for a good few years now and after a shouty-testosterone fuelled feud with brother Pete, the Barton bros are living in relative harmony. Nothing has really changed for Ross. His big turning point came very early on in his time in Emmerdale as he had a star-crossed, and ultimately fatal relationship with police officer Donna Windsor and despite attempts to recreate that winning spark and thrilling love affair with Debbie Dingle, nothing else has quite captured that Ross/Donna magic. You know what you’re getting with Ross – lad bants, posturing, brotherly aggro, Middle Child Syndrome, maybe even a bit of pining for Debs.

So what next?

Something different! We’ve had the lucklustre Debbie and Ross romance, it’s time for something new. Something different, maybe even more emotional. Someone who challenges Ross in a different way. Show us a new weakness, give him something else besides a dodgy deal in the garage or bother with Pete. Make Moses more than a prop or find him a new rival.

Tracy Metcalfe

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Tracy suffers a very similar fate to David (and Bob, who I’ll come to later) in that they are literally, physically stuck behind a counter. Most of Tracy’s scenes now take place in the shop and while this often works for those who work behind the Woolie, we never seem to see her anywhere else these days. Once Tracy was a bit of a no-good schemer but now she has the “loveable-if-a-bit-dim” tropes covered. Because of this, both her and David have fallen into a pattern of sitcom style misunderstandings and mishaps which often end up in a little tiff and David getting his bum out. We do need the comedy capers (now more than ever in this dark and heavy period in Emmerdale) but Tracy has a lot more to give – and so does actress Amy Walsh – than just silliness.

So what next?

Get her out of the shop for one! Tracy’s movements and interactions have been so limited to the same bubble of characters lately. Even though the Finn stalker storyline was almost universally hated, it was good to see her giving Finn a hand. Give her some modest success and see how she and David deal with it, get her out in the community rubbing up Emma the wrong way with her “smutty tat”!

Aaron Dingle

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When Aaron returned to screens in 2014 the beginnings of his shock affair was something brand new for the character – we saw him betray his own morals for a bit of a lust fix. Fast forward two-and-a-bit years and a lot’s changed. Aaron’s grown into himself. He’s comfortable in his sexuality in a way he’s never been. He has a husband, he owns a business, a house and has his own family to look out for, rather than just being smothered by Chas. The problem? The misery overkill. Seriously, do the writers have a big book they work through labelled Miserable Stories For Aaron Dingle? When most characters have one problem to deal with, Emmerdale give him six and any sort of growth in his character is suffocated by the next new tragedy he’s given. The main issue of this tiring repetitive reliance on misery is apathy – you just know that whatever happens there’s a new agony waiting round the corner.

So what next?

If Aaron can’t have happiness, then can we at least give him a problem which doesn’t directly damage his mental health? Can his concerns and angst be about the wellbeing of someone else rather than turning in on himself? Or can therapy take his character into new and less self-destructive directions? Let Aaron enjoy that maturity of having adult responsibilities for a change.

Priya Kotecha

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Okay, let’s get this out the way. Priya’s problem is one thing and one thing only. Rakesh. Since being tied to him, a man that really lives up to the ball and chain metaphor, Priya’s character has suffered. She’s a strong and capable businesswoman who has real guts about her and we’ve also seen her face difficulties as she struggled with her eating disorder. But since being with Rakesh, she’s had to sit back and fold time after time, forgiving him for each latest mess up. Why?! She has the same ambitious fire as Megan and Leyla but her repetitive relationship with Rakesh just keeps dragging her down.

So what next?

Ditch Rakesh. Once he’s out of the picture maybe we can finally see Priya have some fun and away from her stuffy role in the factory. It’s about time Priya found someone decent for her, who she has a spark with.

Bob Hope

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As we know, Bob Hope can be the life and soul of a party. He’s not afraid of a bit of fun – be it stripping or role play. But Bob has the same problem as Tracy and David – he’s stuck in one location, one set and we rarely see him elsewhere. When we do though, it’s a breath of fresh air. Bob was a great addition to Ashley’s last few weeks, he was hilarious at the hen do events, great at the graveside with Carly and it’s been a joy to see him work behind the bar now and again. Let’s be honest there’s only so much story to be had when serving someone a latte and Bob is such a fun character that trapping him in the café is a waste.

So what next?

I’m not suggesting anything hasty in regards to Bob’s day to day life. I’m not willing to let Bob and Brenda (one of Emmerdale’s few stable couples) part ways, but I would really love to see Bob work part time in the pub now and again. Pubs are way more likely to be the centre of the drama than the café and Bob does like a bit of a gossip. Like Tracy, Bob just needs to get out there in the community more and be on hand for when his supportive or stripping duties are required!

Which great characters do you think are in need of a storyline shake up?

7 of Emmerdale’s Most Underrated Characters

 

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Emmerdale is fortunate to have such a brilliant cast of characters that picking favourites is always a challenge. In fact I can count the number of characters I actively dislike on just two fingers. But often it’s the biggest and most popular characters and actors who get all the attention, so here at The Woolie Weekly I thought I’d invite my blog readers to share their favourite “underrated” characters, alongside one of mine, and tell us why they love them.

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Vanessa Woodfield

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll probably have guessed that Vanessa is my choice for my ‘underrated’ fave. Vanessa isn’t as quiet storywise as other characters on this list, but she often plays a supportive role in storylines. Vanessa has such a fiesty spark and a great sense of fun, as well as being a loyal friend and a good mother. With Pierce on her case now I seriously worry for her safety!

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Leyla Harding

Submitted by ‘robroninterest’: “Leyla is mostly used for comic relief, but I would like to see more of her serious side. It was a pity that the ‘romance’ with Pete was rushed, they could have been a more interesting couple and struggled more to get together. Leyla can be a fragile character, that can once in a while do without the comical streak. I want drama Leyla.”

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Pearl Ladderbanks

Submitted by anonymous: “Pearl is amazing, funny, smart, but I also love her sensibility toward other characters, her jovial spirit and her curiosity about other villagers’ lives.

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Bernice Blackstock

Submitted by chloakerz: “As if I’d pick anyone but Bernice! I hope she gets to shine in the conclusion of Ashley’s story but other reasons why she deserves more screen time are: 1) she can do serious AND comedy which is a winning combo 2) putting her in the mix with the Whites (before they sucked the joy out of everything was genius) – she was in her element as lady of the manor 3) her relationship with Andy is perfectly classic chalk and cheese (Katie who?) 4) she loves wine ) ‘I will make you bald!’ truly iconic: need I say more? 6) if Emmerdale made Bernice and Robert BFFs I can die happy – so much snobby potential!

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Marlon Dingle

Submitted by anonymous: “Marlon, every time! He’s the sweetest, most precious villager who doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. He’s so often overlooked and ridiculously funny. The kind of pure character we all need to keep storylines fun and bright. He has been through a lot as well and still manages to be upbeat and happy. A true village legend.”

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Victoria Barton

Submitted by anonymous: “Victoria sees the good in most people but also doesn’t take any shit. Her and Adam seem to be two of the few ‘nice and normal’ characters remaining in Emmerdale. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t interesting. She’s grown up on the show but hasn’t been in the spotlight storyline wise for ages.

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Adam Barton

Submitted by anonymous: “Adam Thomas is one of those rare actors who can not only do brilliant, warm comedy that puts a smile on your face but he can do dark, angry or heartbroken to just as high a standard all while being effortless. He’s got a comfortable natural acting style and he’s so underused. He has so many connections in the village and could do so much. The writers don’t seem to realise that!”

 

 

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!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Winner of Britain’s Best Soap, Emmerdale is firing on all cylinders with some incredible storylines this year. I’ve already given a run down of the lowlights and my Top moments #20 to #11, but here’s my Top 10 moments in Emmerdale in 2016. Here’s to an ever better 2017!

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10. Andy’s exit

Everyone was shocked to hear that Kelvin Fletcher was leaving Emmerdale after twenty years of playing Andy Sugden and it still doesn’t feel quite right without him. With Chrissie on the warpath, Andy faced a bleak future of serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, made even worse when managed to break from his holding cell in court. Yikes. Sure, the whole escape fiasco was soapy and ridiculous but Andy’s emotional goodbyes with Bernice and brother Robert let Andy go out on a dramatic high. His final few episodes saw the Sugden brothers at their best – immature swipes at each other and a rocky history but ultimately full of love. Here’s hoping Andy doesn’t have to stay on the run forever!

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9. Remembering Edna Birch

Emmerdale legend Shirley Stelfox sadly passed away this year and Emmerdale honoured the iconic Edna Birch with a moving and fitting tribute. Ashley and Laurel returned with the upsetting news that Edna had passed, leading to a touching exploration of faith and friendship as Sandy in particular suffered with the news. The villagers gathered for her funeral and tried to find closure in their sad goodbye. There were some especially lovely scenes with Sandy and Ashley as they came to terms with her passing and left her infamous hat to float downstream on the river. Shirley and Edna will be sorely missed.

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8. Lawrence’s tragic past

We’d known since Lawrence’s arrival at the end of 2014 that he’d been imprisoned for homosexuality but it wasn’t until this year that the tragedy of his past had properly been explored. After marrying Bernice he seemed fairly content, even if he was unable and uninterested in being intimate with her, but that all changed when Chrissie’s paternity came into question and Ronnie Hale came on the scene. The scenes in which we learnt of Lawrence and Ronnie’s romantic past and Lawrence’s agonising prison torture were brilliant, giving us the insight into Lawrence background that had only been teased before. Hearing Lawrence talk about his love for Harold and the electric shock therapy he had suffered was a particularly poignant moment in this interesting story and one which reminded the audience of others who endured a similar background and was new ground for soap.

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7. Bernice’s doomed love life

This year saw Bernice cement herself as one of my favourite characters in the village with her glorious displays of laugh-out-loud comedy and tear jerking heartbreak. Having resigned herself to a sexless marriage last year, she battled with the reality of this when Lawrence wouldn’t admit to his past when former lover Ronnie returned to his life. The breakdown of her marriage and the pain of loneliness saw Bernice drunk drive a bulldozer into the Mill and later collapse in tears. Bernice had a horrible time of it and found comfort again in the arms of the man she pined for, Andy Sugden. It was an unlikely pairing but one with chemistry that had been bubbling for some time and besides, who doesn’t want to see Bernice happy? But with Andy on the run it couldn’t happen and Bernice was forced to let him go and team up with Robert to help bring down the Whites, giving us some hysterically memorable scenes of Bernice armed with clippers: “I WILL MAKE YOU BALD!!”

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6. Emma Barton

Love her or loathe her, Emma Barton has had one hell of a year on Emmerdale and we’ve finally seen her fulfil the potential that’s been brewing since day one. Earlier in the year, when Emma lied about having a life-threatening illness (but then quickly confessed) I had high hopes for what the year would bring, as long as they didn’t make her too cartoony. I’ve been thrilled with how things progressed and while there were real moments of OTT crazy in Super Soap Week (chicken blood on the wedding dress for one) all of Emma’s extreme behaviour comes from a very real place. Gillian Kearney stole the show in Super Soap Week as she made Emma’s psyche (all she wanted was for James to love her, jeez!) gripping viewing. Sure, viewers are frustrated and want the truth to come out, but seeing the cracks appear and the horrifying lengths she’ll go to in covering up the truth are just cementing Emma as a real favourite of mine.

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5. Aaron and Robert becoming a proper couple

For beloved couple Aaron and Robert, 2015 was all about sex, violence, murder attempts, more sex and misery, but by the end of the year the love between them was thin on the ground. This year, however, saw a huge turnaround for the characters and their relationship as Robert offered Aaron unwavering and unconditional support throughout his childhood abuse revelations and the trial. Aaron drew great strength and comfort from Robert’s presence and reassurance, and needed him in ways he couldn’t lean on his family. In Robert too, we saw a refreshing new side as Emmerdale toned down the panto and restrictive villainy (we don’t talk about the teeth incident) and let him become more human – showing a wealth of love and loyalty in Aaron’s plight. It’s a testament to Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry that they were able to rebuild Aaron and Robert’s rocky relationship into a love story rooted for by so many. As the year progressed and Robron reunited, it was a joy to see their mix of passion and affection grow into a family unit, becoming one of the show’s best couples and their romantic journey in Super Soap Week (leading to a proposal) was a massive highlight of the year. Bring on the wedding!

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4. Holly’s Death

I’ll admit I was filled with dread when I heard of Holly’s return and those first few months – as she got involved with lightweight gangsters, made a move on Cain and got involved with petty revenge on Charity – did little to endear her to me. However, as Holly fractured the Coira powerhouse and turned back to drugs, the performances from Sophie Powles and Natalie J Robb shone as some of the best in the show. It was gritty, brutal and showed how destructive drugs can be to a family. Sod’s law had it that just as I had begun to warm to Holly and was fond of her surprising relationship with Jai (JAI – I liked Jai!!!), Emmerdale pulled out the rug from under us and Moira found Holly dead in her bed. We’d all been expecting an exit, but none of us saw that coming so soon! There was something eerie and different about the episode’s opening that left everyone curious, but kudos to Emmerdale for pulling off a true shock. Once again viewers were treated to stunning performances and the weight of Holly’s death made a huge impact, not just in the fictional world, but also to viewers who saw the reality of drug addiction at its worst, even when a person appears to be happy and coping. This was another moment which saw Emmerdale soaring in 2016.

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3. Aaron’s childhood sexual abuse

Another incredibly powerful and emotive storyline of 2016 was the reveal that Aaron had been repeatedly raped as a child by his father, Gordon. Gordon’s arrival in December 2015 sent Aaron spiralling into self-harm, resulting in him collapsing from septicaemia and eventually confessing about his abuse to Robert. By then we’d already seen consistently impressive performances from Danny Miller, but this storyline surpassed all of those, as time and time again he delivered each heart-crushing moment with a rawness that sent shivers down spines. The storyline was grim, uncomfortable and sickening at times but the script and the actors never shied away from the horror of the story and offered outstanding performances from all the main actors involved. With justice being served in a satisfying way, and Aaron having hope for a happier future, it felt like an unnecessary twist to have Gordon commit suicide, but ultimately this storyline was tackled in a moving and truthful way and seemed a fitting backstory in light of Aaron’s adolescent struggles.

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2. Ashley’s dementia

Ashley’s dementia was an obvious highlight towards the end of 2015, but this year has really seen its progression and the deterioration, particularly in recent months, has been an affecting and ground breaking storyline. At the heart of this storyline, John Middleton has played every moment of heartbreak with nuance and a real understanding of the tragedy involved in dementia. Getting a long-term illness right in soap is a difficult business, when the realistic speed of illness can jar with a pacey need for dramatic twists but Emmerdale has struck the balance just right. At every turn, we’ve seen the wider impact on Ashley’s family (on his children and their behaviour, on Laurel’s alcoholism and struggle to hold everything together – with all of these featuring stellar acting), his identity and faith – as well as sitting alongside the soapier elements such as Emma’s big secret. Ashley’s special episode was a superb decision by the producers, giving the audience a ground-breaking insight into life from the perspective of someone with dementia and highlighted all the strengths of this hugely important storyline.

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1. Super Soap Week

Expectations were sky high for Emmerdale’s special week in October and as information and spoilers were drip-fed to us, excitement built. Surely it couldn’t be as good as we were hearing? Wrong! In breath-taking scenes, Emmerdale secured itself at the top of the soap game with a week that would be remembered as some of the best material in the soap genre. With each episode showing the same day from the perspective of different characters we had insight into characters in a way we’d never had before, allowing long scenes and meaty material showcasing the incredible talents of all the cast involved. For Emma Barton and Robert Sugden, these episodes offered real defining moments as the former reached her incredible and unnerving potential and the latter had his long awaited and important heart-to-heart about his bisexuality. The week had it all, like six blockbusters strung together – romance, comedy, horror, drama and action – and for the first time ever we got to see the Hotten Bypass! The episodes were shot with glossy film style cameras which gave the week a real movie feel and the epic stunts were jaw-dropping and awesome in the real sense of the word. The best thing about Super Soap Week is the way the stories interlinked and made everyone’s brains go into overdrive as we tried to piece the story together, meaning you had the urge to rewatch the episodes multiple times to pick up on all the details. It was truly unmissable and aside from the stunt (which was a huge spectacle in itself) the plot was driven by real character moments and a sense of jeopardy.

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2016

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Emmerdale had an INCREDIBLE 2016 winning awards left right and centre, but it can’t be flawless all the time. Later I’ll be continuing my countdown of the Top 20 Best Moments of the year, but here’s a brief look at the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016.

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6. David’s never ending proposals

David and Tracy’s relationship had a really tender beginning and I was fully on board, but when David rushed into proposing and Tracy eventually said no, he wasn’t going to let that be her answer. What followed was months of David trying to wear her down and bulldoze over her feelings by proposing in increasingly outlandish ways. Perhaps the intention was to be seen as funny and sweet but instead David just seemed like a bit of a creep, without respecting that Tracy thought it was too soon. By the time they finally got married, I was sort of beyond the point of caring and David hadn’t just worn me down, he’d made me reach the point of irritation.

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5. Jermaine and Belle’s affair

Ugh. That’s Jermaine and Belle’s affair summarised in one word. It wasn’t just due to the icky age gap and his professional status as a doctor, but the way this plot went on and on. Their sudden uncontrollable passion for each other never felt very believable and when the affair came out, Dr Bailey was quick to let Belle take the fall and say it was all in her head. Bastard! Unfortunately that wasn’t the end, as Belle tried to hang onto him by claiming to be pregnant and what followed was a harrowing breakdown plot for Belle as she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While Eden Taylor Draper’s performances were great, Belle’s visions of “Ellie” were just way too similar to last year’s story when Belle heard Gemma’s voice. Again we faced the oblivious Dingles and repetitive moments of Belle reacting to the voices and hiding this from everyone, which overshadowed the sensitive issues of the plot. Jermaine did stand by her and became more fun working behind the bar, but thankfully they’ve broken up now and we might get something different from Belle in the future.

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4. Kerry’s spiralling out of control

There’s been a noticeable shift in Kerry Wyatt this year and her goofy and loud comedy has been overtaken by a selfish nastiness, which has got worse in recent months since her relationship with Dan ended. Ever since Kerry sided with Joanie against the lovely Lisa, we’ve seen a colder and less loveable character meaning that when she is funnier, it doesn’t always have the right tone. Kerry can be sympathetic and she has had a rough time of it but her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace and towards others haven’t been a pleasure to watch. Instead of wanting to rescue Kerry from her bad decisions, there’s a greater feeling of wanting her to snap out of it and just stop this immature behaviour!

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3. The Whites vs everyone and each other

I have a very difficult relationship with the White family. I enjoyed Chrissie in camp bitch mode, I enjoyed Lawrence’s tragic backstory and I think Thomas Atkinson is a good performer, but as a family unit they’re still such a muddle with their motivations being unreadable or all over the place. Their position as antagonists in the village works to an extent but seems to go round in circles when it’s clear they will never be defeated. Watching the Whites vs the Sugdens is still as tedious as it was from the beginning when it looks obvious Andy won’t return and Lachlan won’t go down for Lawrence’s shooting. Lachlan as a character doesn’t work, since the lack of remorse and no real resolution to the sexual assault storyline makes his existence in the show uncomfortable and irredeemable; the Whites’ lack of any real connections in the village two years on from their arrival mean their interactions are limited and repetitive and often we’re left in an endless cycle of the same disputes, including the ones with each other.

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2. Rakesh’s money woes

Sorry Rakesh fans, but he has got to be the biggest soap bore of 2016. Okay, he might have had an eventful summer committing arson and insurance fraud in a bid to dig himself out of debt but that hasn’t made him any more interesting. Money plots rarely work on screen and watching Rakesh sweat as he lost it all just wasn’t dramatic or even emotional. Emmerdale even tried to go down the tragic backstory route but there’s just no intrigue or empathy to be found in Rakesh. He lacks any sort of charisma, he’s a dead weight around Priya’s neck and he’s dominated the show far too much this year. Now with Kirin gone there feels like even less of a purpose to him and I wouldn’t miss him if he had to leave the village forever.

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1. Cheating plots

If I could change two things from Emmerdale 2016, one would be less misogynistic writing (be it the way some female characters are written, how some female characters interact with each other or how men treat them without consequence) and two would be to cut down on the cheap cheating plots. Sure, cheating has been a soap trope since forever but this year has seen an unnecessary amount of “shock” kiss scenes used as a fast device for conflict and drama. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick (and probably incomplete) list: Moira/Pete, Nicola/Dan, Chrissie/Rakesh, Moira/James, Kerry/Ross, Rebecca/Robert, Bernice/Jimmy, Lisa/Zak, Laurel attempting to kiss Marlon, Holly attempting to kiss Cain, Ross attempting to kiss Victoria… Not only is it repetitive and lazy it’s a miserable viewing experience when you can’t rely on any stability between your favourite soap couples. We expect drama and conflict in relationships but with so many of the Emmerdale couples in tatters, don’t keep ruining every other couple with these endless cheating plot devices!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part One (#20-11)

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Another year of Emmerdale is over and what better way to celebrate than to look back at some of Emmerdale’s best moments from 2016. This post covers moments I’ve ranked from 20 – 11. Tomorrow I’ll post the moments I’ve ranked 10 – 1 and a quick run down of the worst bits of Emmerdale in 2016. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20. David’s testicular cancer

Overall David’s testicular cancer plot was a mixed bag, marred by prolonged and irritating “comedy”, but it makes my Top 20 for Matthew Wolfenden’s committed and emotional performances. After a results mix-up, David was devastated to learn of his diagnosis, but moments of very “David” levity (such as his drunken and naked conversation with his balls) were balanced by his emotive conversations with Zak and the touching father-son relationship with Jacob. David’s treatment, supported in lovely scenes with his family, saw him meet upbeat Dylan, who later tragically died (predictable but still sad) and David eventually faced his illness with bravery and a middle finger up to cancer.

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19. Teenage Dream

This year saw the arrival of Liv and the recast of Gabby, giving us a very talented trio including Jacob. Their plots have been a little hit and miss on the likeability front but all of them have had tough emotional and sensitive storylines to shoulder and delivered at every turn. The casting for both Liv and Gabby has been fantastic and their friendship (when they’re supportive rather than destructive) has great potential. My hope for next year is that Emmerdale give all three (and especially the girls) room to grow from their experiences, rather than reverting to bad and immature behaviour when the plot needs some instant friction. As we’ve seen from interactions with the adults that surround them, they’re capable of being astute and considerate – they can be teens without being brats.

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18. Community Spirit

One of new producer Iain MacLeod’s goals when he took over the reins of the show was to give Emmerdale a greater community feel and I think it’s definitely improving. Apart from attendance at funerals and weddings we’ve seen more of an overlap between characters and stories existing outside of their bubbles. This subtle shift has included things like the charity fundraiser hosted by Megan, the fireworks night and the pub quiz – all with little character groups mixing and hovering in the background. This has also benefited the balance of characters with this year feeling as if everyone’s getting a chance to shine, rather than a heavy focus on a select few. The Christmas episodes too had a great feel for family and community but I’d definitely like to see more of this.

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17. Tracy Shankley’s vulnerability 

One of the real surprises of 2016 was Tracy Shankley and some show stealing performances from Amy Walsh. While Tracy can be a bit brash and Marmite, we got to see more of her vulnerabilities this year and some heart-tugging emotional moments that made me soften towards her. The jury’s still out on dad Frank, whose secret fell flat, but it’s been nice to see Tracy settle in to the village a bit more and her relationship with David has had some sweet moments too, but this is possibly overshadowed by the unlikely friendship she’s forged with Eric.

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16. Lisa Dingle’s big heart

Lisa Dingle had a rough old year. 2016 started with her having to watch Zak and Joanie cosy up and then marry, but things got even worse as Belle’s mental health problems saw her go missing. It’s been a busy and miserable year for Lisa but I remain forever impressed by the size of her heart and the wealth of kindness and compassion she bestows on others, and Jane Cox gives Lisa the warmth that we all love. This year we saw Lisa find a new friend in Ronnie Hale which was exactly what she needed. I can only hope 2017 is better for Lisa and that if she lets Zak back into her life, then it’s on her own terms.

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15. Chrissie White goes Gone Girl

One of my controversial choices for the Top 20 is Chrissie White’s foray into superbitch territory, which for a few weeks was fun viewing. On discovering that Andy had slept with Bernice again and wasn’t the perfect man she’d assumed of him, Chrissie decided to make him pay and began a twisted revenge. The scenes in which Chrissie double-crossed him and saved her villainy for us, the knowing audience, was a treat. Slightly camp, slightly outrageous but enjoyable to see Chrissie with her claws out rather than the simpering victim she had been before. Sadly this moment of twisted villainy didn’t last long and the magic was lost as the plot descended into a family war.

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 14. Adam and Victoria’s solid relationship

They might not be the most dramatic couple in The Dales but they’re easily the sweetest and one of the most settled. At the start of the year Adam had to face the heartbreak that baby Johnny wasn’t actually his son after all and it’s a real shame that this heavy emotional drama, which gave Adam and Vic some great material, was brushed under the carpet very quickly. After this they both settled into the background, but they remained a constant reminder of what a cute and well suited couple they are as they dealt with their families’ bigger dramas. Adam and Vic are a nice reminder of a solid and relatable couple and Emmerdale should use them a lot more!

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13. Rhona discovers Paddy’s affair

Okay so the Paddy/Tess affair was a real lowlight of 2015/2016, coming close to ruining Paddy’s character forever but the thrilling shock of Tess’s death and Rhona’s discovery of the affair almost made the hot mess of the storyline worth it. Rhona finding out about the affair came after the accident meaning she could never confront Tess and never really get any closure (which might be why she latched onto Pierce so readily). Paddy received the brunt of Rhona’s devastation, including a shock slap, but Rhona didn’t hold back on Tess either, calling her a bitch. After a quiet 2015, it was fantastic to see Rhona take such a prominent role in the show, particularly with Zoe Henry showcasing her skill at taking Rhona from the guts and fire of her anger to her anguished heartbreak.

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12. Laurel’s on-going struggle

Charlotte Bellamy continues to be one of Emmerdale’s biggest assets as 2016 was another big year for Laurel. Contending with Ashley’s illness and deterioration as well as her pregnancy is enough for anyone to cope with, but Laurel had the added battle with her alcohol addiction as the pressure on her mounted. Charlotte gives impressive performance after impressive performance, whether she’s being vicious under the strain of responsibility, or quiet and fragile at her breaking point. I can only imagine how crushing her reaction will be when Ashley dies and I’m sure Charlotte will be picking up lots of awards in the new year.

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11. Paddy’s return

This time last year the Paddy we knew and loved felt like a distant memory and many of us were united in the utter hatred of his affair plot with Tess (RIP). Fast forward to August, Paddy had been working in Germany and he came back to us, fresh and funny and like the man we’d thought we’d lost. Back were the one-liners, the stuttered buffoonery, the brilliant bromance with Marlon and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The character and the audience really benefitted from the breather off-screen. Now the Tess plot is all but a distant memory and even Paddy admitted was the biggest mistake he’d made (shading storyline decisions maybe?), but I’m just glad he’s back to his best.

Come back tomorrow to read my Top 10 of 2016!