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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.