Scene of the Week (30 Dec 2019- 3 Jan 2020)

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My Scene of the Week choice was one of 2019’s last moments, as David had a turning point when it came to baby Theo. After the year’s hell with Maya’s abuse of Jacob, it’s no surprise David had mixed feelings about a child that was half hers. But after some soul searching David realised he needed to give his son the best chance in life and step up to the plate. This was a moving scene showing David in an empathetic light (a character who can often be selfish and, well, a bit of a dick) and Matthew Wolfenden gave us a clear reminder of what a good performer he is given some big material.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2019. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10 – Jai and Laurel

Who could predict that one of Emmerdale’s latest favourite couples would be Jai and Laurel? This time last year we were finally free of the massively unpopular Laurel and Bob romance, but her new love with Jai has been a surprise hit. Early days for the pair was something of a sweet slow burn of crossed wires and a pretend kiss to get Jai out of a dodgy date, but now they’re finally together it just works. The actors have a good chemistry and their cuteness has been pretty sweet. Lately their merged family is under threat as Arthur cruelly bullies Archie – could this destroy Laurel and Jai’s relationship so soon? Hopefully not!

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9 – Vanity’s Engagement

2019 started in a hugely dramatic way for Vanessa and Charity when Vanessa was stabbed outside the pub by Lachlan’s dad Donny. After her brush with death, Charity was more convinced than ever of her love and decided to pop the question. What followed was a brilliantly humorous attempt by Charity to hijack an unsuspecting groom’s outlandish proposal at Home Farm to surprise Vanessa. Although it was classic Charity madness, Vanessa was less than impressed when she realised what Charity had done. Nevertheless Vanessa returned to Home Farm to hear Charity out and after some drunken rambling, the couple’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. This moment had everything – laughs, vulnerability and a great script. Will their wedding be as similarly funny and romantic when it happens?

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8 – The Immediate Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

I have some serious problems with how Vic’s rape story ultimately transpired but there’s no denying that the initial scenes in which Victoria revealed she’d been raped to Moira were outstanding. In the aftermath of Vic’s rape, Moira tried to help her understand she wasn’t at fault in any way with writing that deftly dispelled every myth and misconception surrounding the assault. Emmerdale made interesting choices in the beginning of the story, with Lee seemingly like the nice guy helping to walk Vic home before attacking her in her own home in brutal but effective scenes. The aftermath also featured stunning performances from the underused Isabel Hodgins and it’s a shame the story derailed so quickly.

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7 – Truth about Maya

It was the moment viewers were eagerly waiting for and when the truth about Maya came out, it was worth the wait. For months Maya had been grooming and seducing Jacob right under his family’s nose and after Liv’s discovery it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. The reveal took the centre stage of the Big Night Out episodes as Priya was the surprise witness to a kiss between the pair. The tension was delicious as Maya accepted a lift from Leyla, Tracy and Priya – although we had to wait a few weeks to find out what they’d actually done to her, suspecting she might be dead. The beginning of the end came with a gripping confrontation in the woods, but David learning the truth was equally compelling with a strong performance from Matthew Wolfenden and an uncomfortable but authentic range of emotions on display. With Maya and Jacob hiding out, there were some must-see twists and turns as the truth emerged, but disappointingly, the dramatic climax fizzled out and the conclusion of this story just didn’t live up to the gripping revelation.

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6 – Robert’s Exit

The end of 2019 also marked the end of Emmerdale’s most-shipped couple as Robron were torn apart due to the departure of Robert from the show. After his sister’s rape, Robert was unable to move past his need for revenge and when Lee’s torment of her continued, Robert saw red and hit Lee over the head with a shovel. For a while it looked like Robert’s charges would be minimal but things changed when Lee woke up and later died from his injuries. Facing the prospect of life behind bars, Robert went on the run, with Aaron by his side. With the desperate couple willing to sacrifice everything for their love, the reality of their future weighed heavily on Robert’s mind and he selflessly turned himself in, breaking Aaron’s heart in the process. Robert was sentenced to fourteen years inside and scheduled to be moved to the Isle of Wight and while Aaron was determined to hang onto their marriage, Robert made the crushing decision to cut all ties and allow Aaron to live his life. While Robert is a big loss to the show, Ryan Hawley gave some of his best performances throughout his exit and his exit managed to be both gripping and heart-breaking. Despite this story meaning the end of Robron, their epic love story was honoured in Robert’s final episode and the plot stayed true to their depth of feeling until the very end.

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5 – Flashback episodes

There was a real buzz around Emmerdale’s much promoted Big Night Out episodes, but the real excitement began just a few weeks later as we got to see what really happened during that fateful night. Flashbacks have been overdone in Emmerdale lately but withholding what really went down for two weeks was just the right time to keep things gripping and keep us all guessing. Of all the flashbacks Billy’s was the weakest but even that managed its own twists and give us glimpses of the other storylines in the background. The thrilling showdown between Maya and the trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya let to a brilliant blackly comic confrontation in a horror movie pursuit in the woods. Victoria’s strand was unsurprisingly the hardest to watch as what could have been a rom-com style episode had a horrific end, and knowing what was coming gave the episode an unbearable dread. Overall this was an exciting dose of episodes, giving Emmerdale back its must-see bite while these big stories played out.

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4 – Women’s Day Special Episode

Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day this year with an episode dedicated to the women of the Dales using a mostly all women crew too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warmth. Emmerdale managed to use almost its entire female cast, interacting in surprising ways and having a wonderful community, character driven feel. There was also a surprise inclusion of Lisa with the sad reveal she was dying, but despite this the episode still managed to be funny and full of heart, instilling a sense of confidence and strength in being a woman. An episode with ambitions like this made me even prouder to be an Emmerdale fan. And hey, if it pisses off the backwards likes of Piers Morgan and co then it’s doing something right!

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3 – The Mere Existence of Liam Cavanagh

If there’s one character who’s made Emmerdale 2019 a joy to watch then it’s Dr Liam Cavanagh. Not only has he shared a sweet and funny romance with Bernice (a relationship so right for their characters I was sad to see end), but in his own right he’s managed to be both charming and laugh out loud funny. This year highlights have included his painfully awkward encounter with Cain, the discovery that he loves murder mystery roleplay – leading to a hilarious misunderstanding where Bernice thought he was a murderer – and of course his adventures in costume from the sheriff to the panto’s Farmer Christmas. Although Liam has lost his love, there’s potential with Leyla, but also his relationship with daughter Leanna and colleague Manpreet to explore. Liam’s the sort of character that easily feels at home in the village (he even made Bear briefly watchable) and Jonny McPherson’s natural charisma and comedic timing, he’s a character who consistently puts a smile on your face. If I could only make one wish for 2020, it would be more Liam!

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2 – Lydia’s past

There was one stand-out star of 2019 and that was Karen Blick as Lydia, effortlessly taking Lydia from kooky oddball with a big heart from tragic matriarch of the Dingles. This year we learnt more about Lydia’s tragic past, revealing that she had taken on a false identity and was really named Jenny Finn. As the remains of a baby were found by the school, Lydia turned herself into the police revealing she had buried her stillborn child there and kept it a secret all this time. Karen Blick’s performances were nothing short of incredible and together with Sam, they were the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown this year. This story not only made Lydia more loved, but it also strengthened the bond between the couple. Giving Lydia this fleshed out backstory offered a believable explanation for her personality and the material, never short of gut-wrenching, proved what an incredible performer Karen Blick is. With the question of Huntingdon’s disease playing on her mind, I hope 2020 continues to give Karen the material she deserves.

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1 – Lisa’s death

We lost a real Emmerdale legend this year as Lisa Dingle passed away suddenly. We had only just seen her back in the village and in her rightful home when we lost her for good, after a warm and nostalgic big Dingle celebration. Lisa’s death was understated and fitting, following a sentimental wedding for her and Zak, which even featured classic Emmerdale band The Woolpackers. Despite Lisa’s death being a surprise to many viewers, we should have guessed Lisa’s time back in Wishing Well was limited considering her return almost felt like a goodbye tour. When her family came home to find her dead, there were impressive scenes as they grieved and supported each other. The aftermath was moving as it panned over their homestead and the funeral was a fun and quirky affair with pig races. Lisa also left behind letters for her family which told them what they needed to hear and was a fitting end for the matriarch of the family. The Dingles haven’t quite felt the same without her, but her final episodes were a beautiful tribute to her treasured character.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2019 and Happy New Year!

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2019

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It’s been a divisive and controversial year of Emmerdale stories where big plots have had their ups and downs. Kim had a dodgy first few months settling back into the village and we lost nice guys Matty and Ryan to some dodgy toxic masculinity which came as a big blow to their popularity. Then there were characters who started with real promise like Billy and Will and Jamie, who then turned out just to be a bit dull.

But those aside, what were the worst moments overall in 2019?

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6 – Joe – dead or alive?

It feels like a long time ago now, but for the first few months of 2019, everyone was still banging on about what happened to Joe Tate. Viewers were left wondering if he was alive or murdered by Graham, while Cain and Debbie were torn apart with Cain believing he killed Joe with a single punch. Come March it was revealed Joe is in fact alive, but after all that ambiguity the climax was as flat as a pancake. Ned Porteous made a cameo only in photographic form (which screamed hasty rewrite) and disappointed many who were begging for his return. This story also meant the torment Cain went through was for nothing, it meant Graham’s agony and spiral into drink about ending the life of his best friend came from just letting him free, and Kim’s murderous intent fizzled into nothing. The Joe, Graham and Kim business was a muddled mess anyway but as we continued to watch Kim and Graham interact, the confusing backstories and rivalries made even less sense. Thankfully since Joe was revealed to be alive, everything has been brushed under the carpet and it felt like a weight lifted – phew!

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5 – Kerry and Amy

Chances are if you were watching Emmerdale in the summer, two of your most hated characters would have been Kerry and Amy. After splitting with Dan and reuniting with Amy, there was promise for Kerry and after all, she was one of the few highlights of the Amelia story last year. Then came a sudden and contrived dilemma from Amy – she needed money and fast. Kerry cooked up a plan to break into the factory and steal the charity money. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they eventually started a fire which destroyed the factory and killed Frank. Not content with those crimes, Kerry implicated Frank and then cosied up to Tracy to assuage her guilt. For over a month they kept their crimes secret, with minimal guilt beyond Amy’s repetitive “I feel terrible” refrain. After a showdown with Tracy, Kerry hit her head and was hospitalised and there was an attempt to say that this was her payback rather than actually owning up to the truth. With neither character leaving its no surprise that there was no confession and now, months on, it’s all been glossed over. Frustratingly however, Kerry and Amy’s attitudes and behaviour were so unlikeable and manipulative it might have sullied them for good. They were downright unpleasant to watch and if we were meant to feel sorry for them, it failed. Can we really laugh along with Kerry when there was no comeback for what she did to Tracy and Vanessa?

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4 – Maya anti-climax

Maya’s grooming and abuse of Jacob was Emmerdale’s biggest and most controversial story of 2019. It benefitted from moments of great high tension and suspense – particularly during the reveal of her behaviour in the Big Night Out episodes – and some solid performances. Louisa Clein especially was wickedly manipulative and the character deserved to go out with a big finale. Unfortunately though, justice for Jacob and a comeuppance for Maya was sorely lacking. Rather than the abuse be treated in the same vein as say Charity and Bails or Aaron and Gordon, with a victory for the victim and a satisfying (albeit unrealistic) sentence, Maya wasn’t even tried for the actual crimes she committed, but a lesser charge. In the lead up to her exit, Emmerdale told a muddled story with lines of dialogue that sounded like she and Jacob were some forbidden love story and with-holding his realisation that she abused him for months. Granted, the sentencing and Jacob’s reaction might be more true to life, but it didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion. By the end of the story, it was going in circles without any sight of a police enquiry or anything resembling a shocked response from the villagers. The teens were absent, as was Jessie, who all should have been playing key roles. The impact was completely wasted and with only the Metcalfe clan effected, it suffered from repetitive scenes and a really flat ending.

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3 – Bear Wolf and the Wrestling

We all know when it comes to humour, it can be really hit and miss. But a real low of Emmerdale in 2019 was the character of Bear Wolf and his excruciating wrestling shenanigans. After Mandy’s brief return at the start of the year, Paddy’s paternity was in question and he went looking for his biological father, an infamous wrestling letch known as Bear Wolf. I’m not convinced Paddy needed any big family discovery story and certainly not one that involved such a loathsome and unfunny character, but his quest took him as far as Belfast. Anytime wrestling was involved, it was an embarrassment to watch, laboured and painful at times. On paper the hilarity of a grown man in a wig and a costume calling himself Bear Wolf might have sounded comedy gold but the reality was one of the worst moments of 2019. Since those scenes Bear has toned down and has all but slotted right into Paddy’s family and you can just about forget how woeful his introduction was.

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2 – Mishandled Rape Aftermath

The immediate aftermath to Victoria’s horrifying rape was Emmerdale at its best. However, what followed has been misjudged and uncomfortable viewing with poor Victoria used as a passive torture victim in her own storyline. Victoria has had barely any agency in this story beyond the odd line of empty dialogue and at times the writing for her has been horrible, even seeming to side with her rapist over her brother. Tying in this story with Robert’s exit meant repetitive scenes of the siblings reaching an understanding, only for Robert to interfere, and the constant harassment by Lee and Wendy without contacting the police meant Vic’s decisions often bowed to the cogs of the plot, rather than narrative choices which empowered her. Now with Wendy in the village acting like a victim, the framing of the story is all wrong and continues to force Vic to live in the constant hell of what Lee did to her. She didn’t get justice, and still she’s continuously punished. This story quickly derailed and given Emmerdale’s successful history of handling rape stories with sensitivity and care, it’s been an even bigger disappointment. It also felt an especially cruel choice to give a character who always wanted to be a mother a baby in such terrible circumstances. Victoria deserved better than this.

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1 – Nate and Moira affair

Without question the worst story of 2019 was Moira and Nate’s affair. Not just was this story loathed by fans but it dragged on for months and tarnished its main characters in the process. Cain and Moira had a rough start to the year, but even that couldn’t begin to explain why Moira’s head was turned by the new and creepy farmhand who had less personality than a stack of hay bales. Cain and Moira’s turbulent marriage might not have worked the same since their split and reunion in 2018, but they were loved by viewers and Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry was unmatched. So why trash it? Emmerdale followed a predictable path of Moira cheating with Mills and Boon style romps in the barn, but with sub-zero chemistry, all it did was remind viewers of Moira’s scorching fling with Cain way back when. With Moira’s weak motivation to cheat, the story threw her character under the bus, jeopardising her marriage and family for nothing, all the while viewers suffered through week upon week of supposedly sexy hook ups and on-off arguments. As for Nate, viewers long suspected he had ulterior motives but with no hints that he had a mission in mind, he came across as vapid and dull, but when he revealed himself as Cain’s son we were supposed to become suddenly interested just because he was Cain’s. Alas, it did not magic him an engaging personality. Even with a clunky backstory for his mother and Cain, sympathy was thin on the ground. In an attempt to make Nate likeable and fit in Emmerdale have now framed Nate as the lonely victim and he’s even won round the Dingles, as for the audience? Jury’s out.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a year that saw big exits, shock deaths and the end of Emmerdale’s two biggest couples, 2019 had lots of surprising moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20 – Nicola’s Rise and Fall

Way back at the beginning of 2019, Nicola and Robert put their efforts into scamming Home Farm out of shed loads of cash. After that backfired, Nicola had a lot of making up to do with both her husband and the villagers she’d betrayed. Nicola’s acid tongue doesn’t always earn her many friends or fans, but there were some fun comedy moments in this story (like when she took Bernice hostage) and touching family moments too. The year got better for her when she got selected for the council – in a role completely perfect for her character – and we got to see her back on top. Nicola and Jimmy continue to be one of Emmerdale’s best and most believable partnerships and here’s hoping they both get good material in 2020.

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19 – Old School Feel

If there’s one noticeable improvement to Emmerdale this year then it’s the return to an old school feeling. Emmerdale’s USP in the soap world has always been its rural setting but in recent years that’s faded into the background. This year however there’s been a return to its roots with more farming and outdoors shots, Kim on her horses, and community events like the village panto. There’s still so much potential in exploring the dramas of a country village that I hope next year continues to make the most of the show’s unique setting.

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18 – Cain Learns the Truth

In October, an explosive secret was revealed when Cain learnt Moira had been having an affair right under his nose with farm hand Nate. It had been a challenging year for Cain, who had been bogged down in the Joe dead-or-alive storyline for months but his reaction to the Moira/Nate reveal was satisfyingly explosive. The best thing about Cain though is not just his avenging efforts (which this year ended up on a boat, implausible and outlandish and arguably too contrived for a punch-happy bloke like Cain) but his range of emotions. Cain’s pain and fury played out below his seething surface and Jeff Hordley’s performances ultimately are the reason he’s so popular. However unpopular the Moira and Nate fling was, Cain’s immediate reaction was one of the most gripping of the year.

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17 – Mandy’s Return

One of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters returned this year in the form of Mandy Dingle. Never far from chaos, Mandy’s first reappearance was far too brief but teasing enough that made viewers hope for a longer return. Later in the year she was back, scamming money from her family and revealing her part in a big casino heist and with son Vinny holding secrets of her own, there’s clearly more to come. Mandy’s return has been an injection of fun and nostalgia and she feels right at home at Wishing Well, even forming a great new bond with Lydia. It’s unclear how long she’s sticking around but there’s something comforting about her presence in the Dingles that makes me wish she’d stay for good.

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16 – Liv’s Jacob Discovery

It’s fair to say it’s been a hellish year for Jacob as he was groomed by Maya but the story as a whole was patchy. However one of the best parts of the story involved the addition of Liv, and running the Jacob plot alongside her exploration of her identity was an interesting choice. While Emmerdale haven’t put the asexual label onto Liv’s identity yet, she progressed further in the vocalisation of her feelings this year, leaning on Aaron and Robert for support. Making her the first person to discover Jacob’s relationship with Maya was a great twist making an already complex story more layered and gripping as she blackmailed the evil teacher too. Isobel Steele continues to portray Liv with real vulnerability and I hope, given the big topics thrown at her – drinking problems, asexuality, seizures – Emmerdale chooses one and gives it the focus it deserves.

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15 – Kim Finds Her Place

After Kim’s brief and divisive return in October 2018, fans were nervous about her permanent role in Emmerdale. Would it work? Would Kim be too panto? Her initial months in Emmerdale were met with apprehension. At first, bogged down with the bloated and retconned history of Graham and Joe it seemed as if Kim had been reimagined as a soulless mob wife, sending out hits and grimly trying to  blackmail Cain to sleep with her. It was an uncomfortable watch, but there were glimmers of hope. As Kim started to integrate and they dropped the Joe storyline there were signs they had plans for her beyond a cartoon villain. Eventually Home Farm reformed, and Kim reunited with son Jamie and met her granddaughter Millie and through all of this – and a friendship with Rhona – she found a heart. While the Tate household has not always been engaging to watch, Emmerdale have finally got the balance right with Kim, she’s both a great foe for the villagers but she’s more than just a campy “soap bitch”.

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14 – Manpreet Settles In

This year Manpreet moved into the village and cemented herself as a regular character by marrying Rishi and giving the Sharma family a more serious focus. Manpreet is a breezy fun character and a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than someone destined for extreme behaviour. She slotted in well to the village, both with the family and with her doctor role, which isn’t always easy for new characters to do. Rebecca Sarker is a really natural actress and her issues with money gave Manpreet a depth and even a little bit of a dark side. Manpreet helped lift the Sharmas out of their comedic rut and she’s been a little gem of a character with much more to her than meets the eye. Can’t wait to see what else they do with her in 2020.

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13 – Bob’s Homelessness

Cast your mind way back to January 2019 and you might remember that Bob was at the centre of one of Emmerdale’s most emotional stories. After the end of his disastrous romance with Laurel and struggling for money, it was a bleak Christmas for Bob. By January he was sleeping rough, struggling for food and so very isolated. After Harriet found him suffering from hypothermia, Bob was hospitalised and the truth came out to friends and family. Bob’s story was sensitively told and a timely reminder of how quickly a situation like his can escalate. Unfortunately Emmerdale skimmed over the aftermath and Bob is back, full of life, in the pub. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs but this was such a strong story that it feels like a missed opportunity.

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12 – Bernice’s exit

In a year of high profile exits, Bernice’s departure was one of the most poignant. Despite the unfortunate way it was squeezed into just two episodes, it was fitting and emotional that just as Bernice’s happy ending was within her clutches, she had to sacrifice it. Bernice’s exit story gave her that moment of growth and self-reflection. Her final episodes were the perfect blend of humour and serious emotion, giving her a great send off. She was a character like no other and she’ll be sorely missed – here’s hoping for a return one day!

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11 – Tracy after Frank’s death

Tracy was my stand-out star of 2018 with Amy Walsh delivering exceptional performances during the storyline that explored her past as a sex worker and split with David. This year Tracy was dealt a massive blow when her dad Frank died in the factory explosion and Amy Walsh continued to impress as one of Emmerdale’s best actors. As the question of the real culprit remained a mystery for a while and blame fell to Frank, Tracy’s determination to find the true thieves intensified leading her finally to the satisfying showdown with Kerry. As Tracy cycled through a range of emotions it was another masterclass from the brilliant Amy Walsh. What will the next year bring for Tracy?

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2019.

Fave or Fail? (23-27 Dec 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was Christmas week and as the villagers indulged in some festive fun, some smiles didn’t last for long.

Faves

Dinner Drama

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-15h02m06s682There was real traditional Christmas Day soapy goodness at Home Farm this year and it all kicked off in their beautifully decorated house. With Marlon doing the catering there was a “classic” Emmerdale feel with Kim displaying her wealth and power and there was an enjoyable amount of humour in this set up. Of course, Marlon was mainly there to see Graham’s destructive behaviour firsthand, but it made an interesting change to see a posh Christmas rather than just the Dingle knees up. Graham managed to put a grenade in proceedings by revealing he’d slept with Andrea but it was good that Emmerdale subverted expectations and kept Jamie as Millie’s father while still managing to tear the family apart with the revelations. I’m glad we get to keep Granny Kim at least! As the fall out rumbled on it helped make the family and the individuals more engaging to watch, with Jamie cycling through rage and grief and Andrea struggling to cling on. The magic has finally clicked into place for Kim and the last few months have ironed out all her teething problems. As we build to Graham’s exit though, I wonder if there’s enough motive in the Tate household to make Graham’s death feel organic rather than contrived if this continues over many more weeks.

Doorstep Delivery

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-15h01m21s517There was an unwelcome delivery at Farrer’s Barn on Christmas Day as Jacob discovered a baby on the doorstep. As the family stared at the bundle confused, they found a note, revealing the little boy to be Maya’s. As the panic and realisation set in, they tried to keep the baby secret, only contacted Liam when they realised they needed a DNA test. With David vowing to be the baby’s father (or pretend) whatever happens, both him and Leyla deluded themselves with the idea that this could protect Jacob from any more trauma. The baby story continues to be an unexpected direction for the story to take and is an interesting way of exploring Jacob’s long term recovery and bringing a new challenge for the entire family. This week’s scenes were gripping and well written and was even an interesting way of introducing Maya’s mum and building on Liam and Leyla’s relationship.

Hospital Festivities

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h59m04s494Poor Noah had a miserable Christmas, stuck in hospital after he was found in the woods, unconscious after his drug taking. Luckily he was on the road to recovery by the big day and Charity, Vanessa, Tracy and the kids rallied round his hospital bedside to give him some festive cheer. There were games and presents and sparkly clothing, but most of all, it was the touching scenes between mother and son that were the highlight. While this wasn’t a conventional family gathering at Christmas, it made a nice change to see a slightly unusual celebration in the episode. Sarah covered up her bad behaviour and continued to be pretty insufferable, but perhaps it’ll be worth it for Granny Charity’s reaction in the end!

Fails

Rhona’s Rage

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h57m03s095There was something particularly unlikeable about Rhona during Christmas week. Since her menopause story some viewers have taken objection to her mood swings and short temper, but I can’t help but feel the character has lost her way a little in recent months. This week saw her continue to lie to Marlon about moving away with Leo and then, once again, changing her mind on Graham, only to change it back again. I’m finding their relationship all a bit tiresome now. Then when Marlon found out the truth about Rhona’s plans to move, the exes exploded at each other in a way that brought out the worst sides in both of them – let’s face it, neither of them have made good romantic choices. Will Graham’s exit help to return Rhona to a more likeable character again?

Public Enemy No.1

vlcsnap-2019-12-28-14h58m11s001In the run up to Christmas Emmerdale released a very glossy new trailer teasing Graham’s grisly murder and a number of suspects who will be lining up to end his days. However, with a whodunnit plot comes ferocious rivalries and exacerbated grudges, all so there are a few more murder suspects in the line-up. This week we saw evidence of that as Charity lashed out at Graham after Noah’s drug taking ended up with him in hospital and Marlon was ready to fight – and lose. There’s nothing out of character about impulsive and emotional reactions making characters threaten and want a war with Graham, but no one surely believes Charity and Marlon capable of actual murder? Their responses to Graham this week felt more like a clunky suspect set up and over-blown, rather than a believable desire to want to murder the man! Here’s hoping there isn’t too much more of this as we build to his demise.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Nov 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a big week for the teens as Sarah took a pill and Jacob struggled knowing Maya had been released from prison, and Vanity were reunited.

Faves

Lydia’s Life Gets Harder

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h15m14s886If one thing proved that Lydia Hart is one of THE best Emmerdale characters, then it was this week’s episodes. When we first met Lydia, Karen Blick delivered comedy with aplomb and soon made quirky odd ball Lydia a fun part of the Dingle household. But as we’ve heard more and more of Lydia’s tragic past, she’s become one of the warmest and most loveable characters in the show. I’d probably go as far to say Lydia doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. This week she learnt her sister Beth had been lying and her mum was actually alive. As the pair got to know each other, both Karen Blick and Judith Barker did a superb job, particularly as two characters talking about the past we haven’t seen can be cold and unengaging (see any Graham backstory, Cain, and Nate’s mother). Their emotional conversations felt authentic but with the focus on Lydia’s heart breaking, made the scenes all the more emotive. And then the bombshells continued as Lydia learnt she might be a carrier of Huntington’s. At the moment on screen there’s a lack of emotive “issue” based storylines but Lydia’s long lost family and the dilemma about getting a life changing test is the closest to their best type of story. If Karen’s performances don’t earn her some awards recognition it’ll be a travesty.

Teen Focus

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m02s131The teens had a surprisingly big focus this week as both Sarah and Jacob had their own stories, while Gabby, Dee Dee and Leanna had their parents’ wedding to contend with. Sarah was in true brat mode this week as FOMO lead her to host a secret boozy party at Jacob’s Fold, incurring the wrath of Granny Charity. As Noah and Samson watched with horror (I love how both of these lads have a real ‘old before their time’ quality about them) Sarah took a pill offered by shady newcomer Danny. So far, despite a lecturing from Noah, Sarah’s covered up her drug taking but it looks like this is only the start in an effort to impress Danny. This week also saw a lot more from Leanna who has been mellowed in recent writing and had great onscreen report with the other teens and also Bernice (shame that’ll be over soon). Her mini story with Jacob really helped to soften her and shed the cold and bitchy demeanour she’d had previously. Teen stories might not be to everyone’s taste, but now and again it’s a good change, especially with watchable actors like this. Though let’s just hope Sarah doesn’t stay too whiny and bratty though otherwise we’ll have a mini Debbie on our hands!

David and Jacob’s breakthrough

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h17m28s792Jacob had one hell of a difficult week and that’s without him knowing about Maya’s baby bombshell! Just as life was looking up, more teenage and more normal – with cinema dates with Leanna – David and Leyla received news Maya was to be released from prison. Eventually they broke the news, sending Jacob spiralling. He took a bus at night to try and see Maya, but David hunted him down and the pair talked in the rain, with David desperately trying to get Jacob to see sense. These scenes on location made a nice change and it felt fresh, rather than rehashing conversations they’d already had. When later in the week Jacob reacted terribly after sleeping with Leanna and was cruel and heartless, the disgust on all sides from family and friends seemed to give him a big setback. Later David and Leyla managed a breakthrough, but it took some cold reverse psychology to do it. I was much more convinced by Jacob and David’s scenes at the start of the week and felt the tough love approach sent out a confusing message to the audience and was an irresponsible way for David and Leyla to treat Jacob given his vulnerable state of mind and trust issues. It might have worked, it might have been difficult to make him see sense, but there are aspects to this big, sensitive and challenging storyline that needed a little more care and the end of the week didn’t work as well for me.

Sweet Start

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h18m00s311Billy and Dawn’s budding relationship is the epitome of sweet. Somehow their new romance awkwardness has softened both characters and made them feel more than just pawns in their family’s drama. Around Billy, Dawn has an endearing innocence about her and Billy’s efforts to impress with an apron and a pretend home made meal were adorable. His encouragement of her job is a big improvement on the slimy way Ryan treated her and in turn it’s been a welcome change to see Billy in a more upbeat story rather than his dour moans about his past. Time will tell if these two manage to be one of those couples we really root for, but whatever happens I’ve got a feeling that Al may become a big thorn in their side.

Fail

Wendy’s Redemption

vlcsnap-2019-11-23-20h19m32s696If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen I’ve been trying and failing to shut up about Wendy Posner and her recurring role in Emmerdale. Rumours seem to be true that Wendy is being made into a regular character and it’s already posing a problem on screen. Don’t get me wrong, Susan Cookson is a great actress and had she had any other introduction to Emmerdale, she’d be welcomed with open arms, the problem is the way Wendy was written when we first met her cannot be glossed over. It seems inevitable that Wendy will have a redemption of sorts. She will (hopefully) realise her son was a vile rapist and struggle with the revelation – which would be an interesting story to tell. However, there’s an issue with the way Emmerdale have already started Wendy’s change of status without her having this realisation. We’ve already seen Wendy victimised and gaining Vic’s sympathises purely because Lee died and this week Emmerdale attempted to manipulatively have Wendy portrayed as the hero, helping Chas and baby Eve. Cynics like me might say, what’s heroic about Wendy doing her job? It doesn’t make her a nice person. It doesn’t make her worthy of forgiveness yet. Neither does a dead son. Not, and this is the crucial factor, when she repeatedly stalked, harassed and accused Victoria of being a liar. She has shown no remorse for this, no compassion for Vic and she still thinks the sun shone out of Lee and that she has some form of ownership over Vic’s unborn baby. Had Emmerdale tackled Wendy’s horrendous victim blaming first and given us time to see her remorse, then we might have been able to accept her into the village. As it stands, Wendy is being made a victim and a false hero, all while Vic is written to pity her. Terrible choices all round a really unpleasant watch.

Scene of the Week (18-22 Nov 2019)

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When Emmerdale do big surprises they do them so well. So much is given away these days whether through spoilers or unfortunate leaks but this time, this was one big secret they kept close to their chest. We learnt through David and Leyla that Maya was being released from prison, but with no hints or spoilers it didn’t seem likely we’d see the evil teacher again. But then, surprise! Louisa Clein made a brilliant shock return in a scene of Maya released from prison but that wasn’t all – she was pregnant. But who’s the daddy? And will we see her and the baby again? Emmerdale says there are no plans for a return but surely drama that juicy can’t be resisted?Besides, the conclusion of Maya’s story didn’t quite have the satisfying punch of justice it needed. Could a brief return correct this? All we can say for sure is that surprises are brilliant and Emmerdale should give us more!

Fave or Fail? (30 Sep-4 Oct 2019)

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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! Kerry’s lies were uncovered this week and Pete learnt that Moira was cheating with Nate.

Faves

The Secret is Out

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-08h59m57s179It was the moment we were all waiting for this week as Tracy discovered that Kerry and Amy were behind her dad’s death. With Kerry’s guilt worsening, she was a mess trying to stay together, but as the pieces of the puzzle starting slotting together, Tracy’s suspicions were high. It was a really satisfying scene to see Tracy raid Kerry’s room for evidence and even more so when she’d worked out that the lies had been building for months. As the two had a showdown in Tug Ghyll, both Amy Walsh and Laura Norton played the bristling tension perfectly. When Amy arrived it was two against one as they tried to calm Tracy down, but if you were anything like me you were just screaming for Tracy to run out of the house and call the police. What actually transpired was something far messier, making the situation more complicated, as Tracy shoved Kerry who then hit her head and fell unconscious. While it does shift the “victim” of the story – somewhat frustrating when Kerry and Amy have been so unlikeable at times – the moral dilemmas it raised made the scenes take an interesting turn. Once again Amy Walsh in particular proves what a strong actress she is and this is sure to continue through the aftermath.

Countryside Dramas

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-08h58m36s771There was something really “Classic Emmerdale” about the salmonella plot that I really enjoyed. Granted we’d only seen Derek twice so his death was meaningless but I loved the way this story tied together so many characters in a different way and had an interesting farming angle. As David suffered with food poisoning, him and Jacob attempted to rebuild their relationship, meanwhile accusations were thrown at Rishi, who in the light of his factory troubles was even more desperate for things to be okay. Then of course there was Sam and his poor chickens! This storyline also gave us a new light on Manpreet, who stole from her deceased patient to make a significant sum and then tried to bribe the man from environmental health. These glimmers that there are much more to her than meets the eye are great! This storyline might not bring in award nominations but it’s the everyday community, countryside story that Emmerdale should be doing, playing up to its USP and giving us some surprising interactions as well as building on pre-existing tensions.

Wedding Wars

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-08h53m53s340This week saw the beginning of a new genius comedy storyline as Bernice and Liam competed against Sam and Lydia to win their dream wedding. With Andrea and Leyla now working together at Take A Vow we could be seeing the start of ambitious trouble between them and it was very welcome to see Andrea outside of the stifling Home Farm environment. But the main joy of this storyline is seeing the polar opposite couples of Bernice/Liam and Sam/Lydia try and out do each other. From their colourful marital histories, with Sam’s bluntness versus Bernice’s bitchiness, this is the perfect comedic story. It definitely helps that both couples are so right for each other and we’ve been waiting for them to get married for ages! Can’t wait to see how the competition escalates and how far Bernice (let’s face it, it’s going to be her!) goes to win!

Family Bonding

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-08h55m07s176Archie just might have stolen the top spot of cutest kid in Emmerdale this week as Jai had a breakthrough with his estranged son and Archie spoke for the first time. After seeking Lydia’s help with grief counselling – a nice reminder of Lydia’s origins in the show – it was adorable Arthur who managed to help get Archie talking again. It’s been nice to see Jai have a more emotional story lately and now he’s partnered up with Laurel they’ve become a lovely new family unit. Arthur and Archie’s budding friendship is heart-warming too and has really helped to make the Thomas-Sharma bonds even stronger. I hope this isn’t the end of Archie’s problems after his mother’s death because I think it’s helped to give Jai more to do than just factory drama and it looks like we’re seeing Arthur hanker after a father figure so that could be interesting to explore too.

Fail

Disbelief and Blame

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-08h53m36s579After the brilliant Tracy and Kerry reveal, Friday’s episode took a bit of a surprising turn. With Tracy almost numb with shock it felt pretty unbelievable that Vanessa and Charity would be so disbelieving of her. Sure, Tracy might have accused Dawn a few weeks ago, but this reaction from them felt harsh, especially when they too had witnessed Kerry’s weird behaviour. In fact Vanessa and Charity seemed far more concerned about Kerry’s accident than what Tracy was going through. It might be believable that they’d have little patience for Tracy after her grief made her react badly recently, but their anger and disbelief seemed really misplaced, especially from the usually cynical and switched on Charity. With Kerry in hospital and now looking more of a victim than Tracy, the balance felt a little unsatisfying – we needed people who were more Team Tracy! The accident twist makes the aftermath a lot messier but I hope it doesn’t make for an unsatisfying conclusion.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Sep 2019)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was Robert’s plea hearing this week and he confessed to a guilty charge, and Tracy began to suspect Dawn of the factory theft and fire.

Faves

Robert Faces the Future

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m00s809Robert made a huge and heart-breaking decision this week as he decided to plead guilty to his charge of GBH with intent, going against the wishes of his family. Robert was dead against his solicitor’s advice to plead guilty until his fears of a long sentence and not wanting to pile pressure on Victoria, lead him to make a last minute decision, sealing his fate. As Aaron in particular struggled to cope with the news, with all the family having lived in denial, Robert had an emotional time trying to reassure him. As Robert’s panic set in about not only his own future but the future of his loved ones, you could see the worry taking its toll. Ryan Hawley’s always given a masterclass in facial acting and this week gave him another chance to shine as Robert ran the gamut of emotions from fear, to grief, to frustration and anger. Robert’s decision put a strain on his marriage, but with Ryan and Danny Miller’s talent for Robron’s angsty moments, it was another set of scenes that prove why they’re such a popular partnership.

Jacob Struggles to Move on

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h24m15s779Hopeful and deluded David still seems to think Jacob getting over Maya is within reach, believing Jacob’s assurances week after week that he’s over her, despite having a volatile temperament and secretive behaviour. This week Jacob decided to ditch his hospitality plans and return to college, with the support of Liv and his family. In these touching glimpses of “old” Jacob we’re reminded just what a lovely and bright boy he was before Maya came along, and perhaps despite his clinging to the past, there is hope he can move past her. We’re seeing him now make good decisions and be a lot calmer and kinder, however it’s clear she’s still on his mind. With Emmerdale returning to this story regularly, I hope it means Jacob will soon be in a place where he realises what damage she did to him.

Saucy Humour

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h22m03s743As filler stories go, I am endlessly entertained by Jimmy and Nicola, probably Emmerdale’s most stable marriage, and their kinky sex life. While some prudish viewers complained about the saucy scenes, it’s obvious Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler are having the best time with the one liners and the filthy suggestions, like their goodie bag from Hotten Horny. Even better was their disgusted children’s reactions. Their scenes were a lot of fun and they continue to be one of Emmerdale’s most underappreciated gems.

Smitten New Lovers

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h27m43s972I’m not totally sold on the idea of Dawn and Billy yet (I preferred him with Tracy if I’m honest), but her smitten attempts to ask him on a date were pretty lovely. With Harriet and Will trying to steal a moment together in their nice but dull romance rekindling, Dawn must have been in the mood for love herself. This is a much better option for her than Ryan, whose attentions had become way too possessive, and I could see them making a nice couple. Perhaps this would also give the characters something else to do besides being hangers-on to their family’s dramas.

Bonus Faves:

  • The beautiful camera work this week (director Suri Krishnamma) was absolutely stunning, showing the village off at its best
  • Andrea and Leyla working together could be great fun and the break from her dull scenes playing Jamie’s wife
  • Jai and Arthur’s catch up this week (as Arthur avoided Nicola and Jimmy’s sexploits) was lovely. Can’t wait to see them bond properly

Fails

Unbelievable Choice

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h30m58s464This week saw Vic struggle with her conscience and flip-flop between testifying (and lie) to help Robert’s ‘Not Guilty’ plea, or withdraw from testifying all together. Eventually she shakily changed her mind, but the journey to get there was muddled and at times unfortunately unrelatable. The decision ate her up, even leading her to a lovely heart to heart with Marlon, but the problem is, her dilemma didn’t seem all that convincing. It’s possible we have to put these story decisions down to Ryan Hawley’s exit from Emmerdale, but there were moments in the writing this week where Vic’s struggle felt like she was choosing her rapist over her own brother. It was particularly jarring to tell Robert she couldn’t support him when he was having a nice scene with his marital family, who were visibly upset at the thought of losing him to a long prison sentence. Would Vic have really done that? Vic’s choice was one not many people watching would probably be able to relate to and while Vic may feel lying was wrong when all she had wanted from Lee was honesty, in the dialogue her decision at times felt like she was punishing Robert for his actions. For someone as family orientated as Vic, it didn’t seem right. Ultimately her choice made Robert admit to his crimes, but rather than this story make Vic feel empowered, it felt hollow and false.

Double Whammy

vlcsnap-2019-09-07-13h31m44s270Two of Emmerdale’s least popular storylines teamed up this week as Kerry discovered Nate’s affair with Moira and blackmailed him over his knowledge of the factory fire. Although these stories are still the two plots many viewers are tired of, Kerry having the upper hand did elevate things slightly, if only for her sarcastic digs at Moira. The crossover did mean an excess of screen time for the characters involved so those of us already feeling like it’s been Kerry and Nate-dale for a while, had a double dose. Seriously, it was like Nate popped up in every scene at the start of the week. On the plus side, Kerry and Amy took a welcome trip away from the drama so that at least means a little break from that story for a while. Sadly, Moira and Nate are still around and while Cain’s away, expect more boring bonking and on/off flippancy. Yawn. Hurry up and discover the truth please Cain.