Fave or Fail? (18-22 Sep 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Liv ended up in hospital this week and Robert’s schemes took a twisted turn.

Faves

Sibling Solidarity

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h43m51s959Liv returned right into the middle of a storm and this week found herself caught up in the mess, and in hospital. Despite Liv’s trip to A&E seeming to be just to pile more angst onto Aaron and Robert, and give Aaron a brief love interest, the end of the week ended on a much more positive note for the siblings. On Thursday’s episodes Aaron and Liv had a touching heart to heart, bonding over their shared heartache and Aaron’s struggle to cope after the split and in prison. With Isobel Steele, superbly cast as Aaron’s sister, the two have a great rapport which works naturally in scenes like this of honesty and openness. I wasn’t sold on Aaron and Liv’s instant connection when they first met last year but this week in their quiet, difficult chats and teasing humour their relationship felt real. Is it too much to hope that they might one day get their unconventional little family back on track?

Going it Alone

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h20m06s590I’ve been really impressed by the subtle way Emmerdale have continued to tell Laurel’s story of grief and loneliness since Ashley’s death. It’s not been played as a big story of weeping and wailing, but something much more true to life. This week saw Laurel try and sort through Ashley’s things and there was a wonderful moment as Eric welled up as he bonded with her over their loss – of Ashley and of Val. Like others who have lost someone, Laurel is painting on a brave face as she tries to move on and keep busy, finding company wherever she can. It’s worked well as a slice of reality, even alongside the humour of Nicola and Jimmy’s desperate attempts to have sex and Bernice’s bulldozer behaviour, and gives Ashley’s death the long lasting impact it deserves.

Gamut of Emotions

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h42m43s923There are few characters that run through as many emotions in one week as Robert Sugden and this week he had the full spectrum. Trying desperately to cling on his scheme to win Home Farm as well as deal with the prospect of Aaron moving on, he spiralled through rage, panic, heartache, jealousy, before finally ending the week feeling pretty smug. Standard. While the charming schmoozer routine does work its Machiavellian magic, it’s always a welcome change to see that veneer shatter and Ryan Hawley’s pained expression manages to resonate in the heart, even when you think it’s only fair that Robert does suffer a bit. Even when stories have Robert awkwardly lurching between heartbroken man and twisted villain in the space of ten minutes (whiplash anyone?), Ryan manages to make Robert watchable, even when the plots do their best to make Robert unlikeable.

Early Sparks?

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h17m30s567This week Debbie got dressed up for a business meeting/date with Tom but the smooth businessman’s idea of lunch wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. We only briefly got to meet him last week and mostly in a stuffy setting, but Tom’s cheeky-charmer attitude seemed to work well up against Debbie’s frostiness. He might look like a pretty Apprentice candidate but his jokes about “Mayo-nose” warmed me to him quickly and even Debbie seemed to enjoy herself, despite being unsure about his intentions. Debbie’s last big romance plots have been a bit lacking, and I still prefer Debbie as a bit of a homegirl rather than a dodgy schemer, but there’s definitely potential there with Tom.

Bonus Faves:

  • Gabby’s return and lovely reunion with Arthur
  • Nicola and Jimmy’s choice of role play costume
  • Lydia’s insistence on historical accuracy, even in role play
  • The thought of Paddy and Pearl at the bingo!

Fails

A Step Too Far?

vlcsnap-2017-09-24-12h44m12s570By the end of the week Robert Sugden had deviously managed to secure 30% of the Home Farm estate and one step closer to being king of the castle, however his twisted plot might’ve gone too far. Having realised his future as a settled family man at the Mill with Aaron and Liv was long gone, Robert’s ruthless scheming ramped up a gear as he managed to convince a drunken Lawrence that they’d slept together. While many people would find the prospect of a naked Rob in their bed pretty appealing (Lawrence too if the truth be known) the whole plot twist was nothing short of gross. With Finn walking in on the scene and Robert’s comedic glances and coughing to stir a zoned out Lawrence, the incident was played mostly for laughs, but with Lawrence’s troubled history with his sexuality the whole thing seemed too sleazy and uncomfortable to be funny. This was pitched as a fun revenge story but Finn’s request for bleach seemed more apt. It seemed far more disturbing than it was fun. Robert’s schemes have lurched from improbable to ridiculously transparent and with the clueless Whites painfully unable to see through his plans the whole thing has become ludicrous. Not to mention – besides being heartbroken, does anyone really know why Robert is going to all this effort anyway?

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Fave or Fail? (28 Aug-1 Sep 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Aaron walk away from a fight and Robert start a fight with some office stationery.

Faves

Friends with Benefits

vlcsnap-2017-09-03-12h12m13s840One of Emmerdale’s biggest assets right now is the relationship between Eric and Faith – an unlikely but brilliant couple. They have the all sparks and the moments of vulnerability that signal the formula for a couple you can really root for, even if they did have a few setbacks this week. After David suggested Faith might be a golddigger, Eric backed away from starting anything romantic with Faith and she was hurt, thinking her mastectomy was putting him off. Rodney jumped in to pick up the pieces and stir up trouble, but Faith’s heart was sold on Eric and the two kissed – yay! There’s a real warmth in their scenes but of course, good things never last and they split again because of a misunderstanding. It’s about time we had another couple we could all get behind and Eric and Faith are perfect antidote to all that soapy heartbreak.

Helping the Homeless

vlcsnap-2017-09-03-12h08m26s669Kerry and Amelia came up with a plan this week to host an event for the local homeless in the hopes it would encourage Dan’s brother, Daz to come to the village. Normally Kerry centred plots aren’t my favourite but in amongst the comedy I’m enjoying seeing her more compassionate side. Before we moved onto the repetitive “Dan shouts, him and Kerry argue” part of the story, the scenes in the village hall had a fun mix of characters and as I mentioned in my Scene of the Week, moved well from funny to heartfelt and serious. Bernice’s insensitivity and Nicola’s lack of enthusiasm stopped the story from being too dry and preachy but overall it’s been a welcome change to see Kerry being less selfish.

Dark Frank

vlcsnap-2017-09-03-12h11m28s543As far as ex-cons go, Frank’s been something of a wet weekend. We’ve heard the stories of his crimes but mostly he’s just been trying to get his girls on side and hang around David’s shop. Since being played by Megan and Charity for his cheating, he’s acted like the wounded party, but this week we saw a flash of something else. In the pub he threatened Charity and swore to her that if she ever crossed him again he’d hurt her more than she ever thought she could be! Yikes! This was quite a turn-around for Frank and suddenly made him all the more interesting. I feel like it’s about time actor Michael Praed had something to get his teeth into – something really nasty and juicy – and his veneer of charm would work well under real darkness. Might we see something much more dangerous from Frank in future? That would certainly be more gripping than what we have seen so far!

Fails

Panto Season

vlcsnap-2017-09-03-12h09m30s594No, don’t adjust your calendars, it’s still only September, but in the village panto season has started early. What is it with Robert Sugden and the White family? Like the cartoonish family themselves, it seems like whenever Robert’s within a foot of them he begins hiding round corners and smirking again. He’s one hair away from twirling his villainous moustache! It’s not to say he’s not charming enough to pull off the deception, but his masterplans are more sketchshow than foolproof and there’s little fun to be had when they make it so easy for him. At this rate they might as well be opening the safe for him with a “Help Yourself” sign. Only Lachlan’s smart enough to be wise to his real motives, now that Chrissie’s keeping away, but they’re being so gullible you almost want Robert to get away with it. Ryan Hawley has charisma by the bucketload, but if they’re determined to keep Robert treading this dark path then at least give him a worthy opponent to cross, someone that doesn’t turn all his scenes into nonsensical farce.

After School Special

vlcsnap-2017-09-03-12h12m50s062Don’t you just hate those scenes in movies where the villain stands around long enough to be defeated by the good guy? Well it was a classic case of good triumphing evil in the Aaron and Jason plot this week with a resolution that bordered on a cringey after school special about bullying. During Aaron’s time in prison, Jason was unrelenting and sickening in his torment of Aaron, to the extent that in parts it felt like Emmerdale had undermined Aaron’s character recovery after Gordon’s abuse trial. Jason’s return felt like an effort to answer those criticisms and readdress the power balance by having Aaron face up to him and come out on top. However the reality of the situation felt like a sticking point – could a man like Jason really change a lifetime of awful behaviour after some words of truth and a punch from Cain? Sure, it’s not like Jason was redeemed in the end but Aaron’s victory felt hollow in its lack of believability and his forgiving nature didn’t work for me after such extremes. Outside of a prison setting, Jason felt like a caricature and a story with such a gritty beginning had an almost fairytale and unsatisfying ending.

Fave or Fail? (7-11 August 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Not a golden week of episodes by any means!

Faves

The Sharmas

vlcsnap-2017-08-13-17h56m30s733Admittedly it’s an odd choice for the top spot this week but I’ve really enjoyed the Sharmas lately. Away from the dubious Nell plot we saw a more fun and relaxed side of Jai, a far cry from the cold and unengaging villain he was not so long ago. I like when we get to see the rarer sides to characters like this and Jai’s barbed exchanges with Nicola work well against his rigid businessman mode. Priya has her unlikeable moments in this Pete fling plot (and I still find it totally unbelievable that she could do this to Leyla for Mr Boring himself) but there were times this week when she recognised her own self-destruct and that her life was not the one she wanted. When she’s not hankering after Mr Dull, Priya’s adrift loneliness and self-awareness that she’s made big mistakes make her more sympathetic than she ought to be in this situation. Finally Rishi – always good for a cartoonish moment or two, especially when there’s face paint involved. I’m glad he’s back from Canada!

Eric and Faith

vlcsnap-2017-08-13-18h49m23s633Every time I see Eric and Faith on screen together, they just work. Faith brings out the fun in Eric, smoothing out his grumpier edges, but this week she showed she’s more than just comic relief to his miserly routine, as she knew how to support him and calm him down. She brought out his forgiving side, helping him to change tact and consider different opinions when it came to Josh but even through this she hasn’t mellowed or stopped her flirty ways. I’m not quite sure if they’re an official couple yet, but they gel well together and it feels like they’ve already been a couple for ages. Good call, Emmerdale!

Fails

Struggling to Care

Emmerdale - Josh Makes Jacob a Dangerous Offer - YouTube (1)Jacob was embroiled in police drama this week and while it was nice to see his loved ones rally round (albeit all stuck in that blasted shop set), the Josh element was a real weak point. The Josh story dominated screens this week but we barely know the guy, beyond a very brief attempt to give him a tragic backstory so Jacob’s misguided loyalty to him seemed to come out of nowhere. Why has he been forgiven so fast? Why is sensible Jacob so adamant in protecting him? Emmerdale’s own teens are pretty well rounded but guest characters like Josh ended up being cartoonish and wafer thin so it’s quite hard to care about his fate or understand why Jacob is so willing to throw away his future. Don’t get me started on his superfast redemption including bonding with Eric over music – cringe! What this story really needed was to see Josh’s hard home life for ourselves or to have his friendship with Jacob play out over a longer and more believable time period.

Gullible Fools

-914 Aaron amp; Robert 10th August 2017 Part 2 of 2 Robert Only - YouTubeThere must be something in the water in the Dales right now (that, or the return of panto villain Robert has been spiking the water supply) because so many characters are acting like complete idiots. Megan’s scamming of Frank seems to be far too straightforward (unless he’s tricking her too) with him barely questioning her wanting separate beds and she herself was foolish enough not to realise Charity had faked those incriminating texts – they weren’t even subtle! But this all pales in comparison to the mindnumbingly stupid and unbelievable idiocy of the White family, namely Lawrence and Rebecca. How many times does Robert have to screw them over, use them, smirk behind their backs before they realise he’s out to ruin them? Time and time again Rebecca’s fooled for his fakery and despite crying over how he’s hurt her, not once has she ever questioned his motives here. When has Robert ever been genuine and caring towards her out of the kindness of his heart? At least Lawrence, being ill and drugged, has an excuse for being so gullible, but he’s seen Robert’s puppet mastery first hand and we’re expected to believe that a few clever words makes Larry look past Robert’s colourful history of ruining the Whites? As if! They’re making it far too easy for him to screw them over, it’s almost as if they’ve had a lobotomy.

Yawn of the Dead

vlcsnap-2017-08-13-18h50m20s984Do you ever watch an episode of Emmerdale and wonder how it’s the same show that produces such award winning drama? Tuesday’s hour long was one of those. According to spoilers we were promised a zombie event at Home Farm with a horrifying car crash at the centre. Instead the hour dragged, and aside from a few made-up villagers it didn’t feel much like an event. The film-school trippy effects used on a very hammy Lawrence were embarrassing and the only damage it caused was Victoria to get a slightly twisted ankle. Hardly life or death. The whole event seemed a complete waste of time having hardly any repercussions – even Lawrence who was just out of hospital and faced with another boring near-death moment seemed unaffected. It didn’t damage the Home Farm business, Victoria is back to work already, Robert is back to drugging Lawrence’s drink and twirling his moustache – so what was the point to it?

Fave or Fail? (31 July-4 August 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Robert move out of The Mill as Laurel did her best Broadchurch and Lawrence nearly died – again.

Faves

Love’s Young Dream

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h06m55s933Sometimes, away from the affairs and the angsty love stories you just want to watch a couple that are funny, endearing and sweet. Lydia and Sam got together properly this week and it was all kinds of adorable. Ever since they dated you could tell they were an oddball match made in heaven and this week things stepped up a gear after they went to a dance together. N’aww. With Samson as ship captain and giving his dad pep-talks we were treated to some really lovely scenes between father and son, as Sam surprised his boy by knowing what “friend-zoned” meant. Of course true love doesn’t run smoothly so after all his doubts, Sam misread the signals and thought Lydia wanted to date Paddy again. But thankfully this was all rectified in a brilliantly funny scene when she told Paddy to go away and leapt into Sam’s arms for a snog. I love how Lydia gets involved in so many of the plots with all her odd jobs and quirkiness, but putting her with Sam is a great move. For me they just work and they’re pretty heart-warming together. I really hope it lasts!

True Detective

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h09m13s273Laurel was in full Miss Marple mode again this week as she tried to uncover the truth about Emma Barton, even though she faced doubts and setbacks as she neared closer to the deadly secret. Every face-off between the women is gripping TV and superbly acted as determined Laurel tries to rattle an unravelling Emma. It’s frustrating to watch manipulative Emma at work, convincing others of her innocence and using Laurel’s alcohol addiction against her, but it’s still exciting to see the close calls and watch Laurel pick through the evidence and to try and take her down. It’s got to be close to the boys finding out now and I can’t wait! I hope Laurel can claw back some allies or at least find out something else to cement her suspicions, but with Emma looking the innocent grieving wife and Laurel seeming to others like she’s slipped back to drinking, it’s not looking hopeful.

A Wasted Life

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-21h53m29s448This almost made my fail list, simply because I’m gutted to see the end of Ronnie Hale. He deserved better. Last year his tragic backstory came to light – years of pining for a tortured and closeted Lawrence White – and they were powerful scenes with so much potential. Irritatingly Emmerdale side stepped this potential and Lawrence seemed to get over his hang-ups in the space of a few episodes and their struggle was never touched on again. Ronnie was a rare thing in the White family – kind hearted, sensitive and actually made a friend in the village, lovely Lisa Dingle. Ronnie and Lisa’s friendship was quickly formed but always felt genuine and warm. But as Lawrence’s true colours came to light this week Ronnie realised he’d wasted his whole life pining for a man who’d had a much darker life than he had realised. You’d think living with that lot he’d have worked it out by now? BFF Lisa came to collect him and drove him to the station where he walked sadly to his train, giving up all hope on life with Larry (even though he was suffering another near death experience at the time). Poor Ronnie. He was a sweet man, far too good for the likes of that family and John McArdle played his scenes with heart and passion. I’ll miss Ronnie and his friendship with Lisa and like this tweet by @WomanUndercover said – I hope he finds a handsome man on the train to spend his life with.

Fail

Same Old Story

vlcsnap-2017-08-05-22h10m09s671Since day one the main problem with the White family hasn’t changed, caught between villains one minute and victims the next, their main source of drama seems to be inner-family conflict. From time to time someone in the village or a guest character arrives to fan the flames but it soon leads to an intra-family feud. This week Lachlan kidnapped Tim (Chrissie’s bio uncle) with the help of Gerry (the only person who’s been a fun addition to the household) and all Lawrence’s secrets came tumbling out. What happened next? Oh only the same thing we’ve watched every few months! A dark family secret, Chrissie being horrified and disowning the family, Rebecca cluelessly trying to fix things and Lawrence almost dying. AGAIN. At this rate I’m half expecting Lawrence to collapse and regenerate. We know that most of them are approaching their exit, but this is tired ground and I’m past the point of caring. The family’s more interesting aspects – Chrissie’s ruthlessness, Lachlan’s unnerving darkness and Lawrence’s tortured past – seem completely abandoned in favour of tedium and now Robert’s scheming looks set to tread even more repetitive ground. Bored now – can’t the Whites hurry up and go?

Fave or Fail? (19-23 June 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was War of the Rs this week as Robron took on Ross and Harriet got stabbed.

Faves

Back in Action

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h03m40s668Cain was back properly this week and it feels like we haven’t seen him in ages. I really appreciated how many different stories converged, as the Barton money woes and war with Robert led to Harriet being stabbed, her fling with Cain being exposed and him seeking revenge. Cain’s revenge missions – usually involving car boots – are often enjoyable viewing but it’s a long time since we’ve seen him take the violent approach and he wasn’t holding back with Ross. It came as a bit of a shock and with Moira involved (Coira tension ahoy) we were guaranteed good scenes as awkwardness bristled at the hospital. Cain might have mellowed as he’s aged, but it’s entertaining to see his reckless side now and again.

Pot Pranks

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m33s935It was testosterone o’clock this week as Ross and Robron started a war. Having blackmailed Robert not long ago, Ross had the upper hand until Robert and Aaron decided to crush his last remaining taxi and only source of income. After some brilliant tag-team one liners, Ross sought payback and stole Robert’s pride and joy – his Porsche. The rivalry rumbled on as Robron discovered Ross and Finn’s weed stash and held it hostage in a woodchipper until Ross returned the car. Unlucky for Ross, Robert wasn’t in a forgiving mood and all the Barton’s cash hopes were sprayed to dust as Finn was captured by the dealers. Oops. With some great sparky dialogue and schoolboy rivalries this was a fun plot to start the week and cause bigger drama later on, plus it was a very welcome break from the tedium of the dreaded baby plot.

A Welcome Presence

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h00m42s441There was a great community feel this week as Doug’s attempts to be less boring led him to the brilliant village hall dance lessons with Lydia and co. But I want to talk about another comedic star of the village – the consistently funny Bernice. Since her return Bernice has found herself working a number of jobs in the village (Kerry’s driven away customers at the salon unsurprisingly) and it’s been fantastic to see her get stuck into gossip in the café, butting her nose in where she really shouldn’t. From getting Cain’s sandwich order wrong to her tea tray throwing, she’s been amazing in this role. But even later in the week, when she went back to the salon and massaged Pete, she was hilariously pervy (she never could resist a young buff male) and ended up giving him severe burns with chilli oil. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of her antics, whether it’s her ill judged comments or the physical comedy, she just brings such warmth and fun to the whole show.

Finding Her Place

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h02m08s776Chrissie White has been in Emmerdale for almost three years now but it seems like finally finally the writers have figured out how best to characterise her. Fingers crossed it seems like the days of being a daddy’s girl victim or – on the other end of the spectrum – the uber camp soap bitch are behind her. She feels settled. Ruthless, cutting, snobby, lording it over the other villagers, holding court at Home Farm – she seems powerful and bitchy without the cartoon one-liners. She’s always had this potential and I even enjoyed some of her really cold-hearted moments in the past, but it used to seem like they weren’t really sure what to do with her. Now the balance is just right. Here’s hoping that she stays like this!

Fails

The Exposition Family

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-18h01m05s107It’s common knowledge that Lawrence is on his way out of Emmerdale but this week we were given seemingly never-ending scenes of exposition as Lawrence sat the family down to explain about Chrissie’s biological father. As we all listened to story time with Lawrence again it struck me how much this family has relied on exposition heavy backstory to make them more interesting. What with Lawrence’s prison story, his romance with Ronnie, Rebecca’s past with Robert, Chrissie’s true paternity and now the story of her father – they’re all tragic backstories intended to give the family depth but in reality they’re just lengthy, heavy and unengaging scenes of exposition. It’s hard to care when it’s all happened in the past and we didn’t get to see it. These kinds of stories are much more involving when a newcomer forces them to confront the past (like when Ronnie rocked up) but with shady Lawrence seemingly lying about Chrissie’s biological family, things might get more interesting!

 

Fave or Fail? (6-10 March 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Dark times for many villagers, but we also saw the return of Lydia and Zak learnt about safe spaces – so not all bad times.

Faves

Dangerous Games

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (1)Vanessa and Pierce were thrown together for Minion cake making this week, the day after Pierce proposed properly with a ring to Rhona, but their bonding didn’t exactly go to plan and the week ended with Ness vowing to show Rhona Pierce’s true colours even if it killed her. Not the sort of thing you should be saying in a soap, Vanessa! But it wasn’t just the tense and bitter battle between Rhona’s best friend and fiancé that was such compelling viewing, but Pierce’s subtle control of Rhona that continues to be intense and unnerving. This week he convinced her to strip and have sex on camera, trying to make her feel boring for not wanting to go along with it initially. It’s that kind of scream-at-your-TV drama where you want to reach in and grab Rhona, show her what Pierce has been doing behind her back, shine a light on his subtle powers of persuasion as he drills away at her doubt and insecurities. It’s only going to get worse, where we’ll feel frustrated and worried all at once, but if it continues with this sort of nail-biting intensity then it’s going to be really and unbearably good.

Private Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m44s161I made my thoughts and concerns about Aaron’s prison hell storyline very clear earlier in the week, but one positive aspect to this storyline has been seeing the individual struggles of Robert and Liv as they try and cope without him. Monday saw a special episode divided between the three of them as we discovered Robert was unable to sleep in their bed and was struggling with the pressure of relying on short phonecalls with his husband to get him through the day. Liv was being picked on and felt isolated too, made even worse when she had to keep the secret of Aaron’s drug taking later in the week. Ryan Hawley and Isobel Steele managed to be quietly heartbreaking in their scenes but it’s also given a chance for the characters to grow closer in Aaron’s absence which has felt organic and heartwarming to watch. While my reservations about the long term implications of this storyline direction still stand, the impactful performances are worthy of praise.

Better Together

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV HubThe Metcalfe family contingent (and I’m including the wider circle of Eric, Leyla and co) were a highlight this week as Jacob’s anxiety issues came to light when he panicked about losing his lucky coin. Not only were these scenes touching, as the family (and even Emma Barton) rallied to help and reassure Jacob, we thankfully had this family to give us some much-needed lighter moments in another heavy and dark week of plots. Sure, seeing David’s bare bum is getting a bit repetitive but it’s always good to have Pearl and Tracy’s saucy book plot slipping into the week’s stories, especially with Tracy’s endearing enthusiasm and preppy outfits. I really hope Jakey’s anxiety issues don’t just disappear either, because it’s an interesting issue to explore in a young character, particularly one in the midst of a difficult family illness.

Some Self Awareness?

Emmerdale - Wednesday 8 Mar 7pm - The ITV HubI couldn’t help but notice that there appeared to be a change of heart this week from a few characters and displays of self-awareness which felt like an admission of storyline missteps. Take Chrissie, for example, who finally backed down over Ronnie (over the Home Farm family fall out #802) and decided to move out of the big house and stand on her own two feet. Whether she actually follows through with the drastic action is another matter but might we finally be seeing more to her than just Daddy’s spoilt little rich girl? I won’t hold my breath, but at least she admitted it. Then there was Finn whose acknowledgement of his crazy ways and escape to Australia feels like a way for the audience to wipe their memories clean of the disastrous “stalker Finn” plot than actually something he would choose to do. And with another appearance of the fantastically bonkers Lydia, maybe the powers that be at Emmerdale are actually aware of what is and isn’t working on screen – and this can only be a good thing.

Fails

Only Scratching the Surface

Emmerdale - Thursday 9 Mar 8pm - The ITV Hub (2)Ronnie and Lawrence almost broke up this week, then almost got engaged when Ronnie decided he didn’t like who he had become (the Whites have that effect on people) and Lawrence realised he couldn’t live without his silver fox odd-job man. Don’t get me wrong – I love their backstory of pain and pining and I love that Emmerdale is showing an older gay couple, but the handling of Lawrence’s sexuality since getting together with Ronnie has been such a disappointment. Last year when Ronnie returned to his life Lawrence was forced to confront the things he had been running from and him deciding he wanted to be with Ronnie properly it was a satisfying moment. Since then it’s sort of fizzled out. Despite living together and being in love, we’re still no closer to Lawrence dealing with his intimacy issues or even touching on his years of self-denial and self-hatred. Even though those elements are familiar ground (with Aaron and briefly with Robert) – are we meant to believe Lawrence’s journey of acceptance is over? Narratively it feels unsatisfying and half-finished – does Lawrence still have intimacy issues? Is he comfortable with being seen or labelled as a gay man? I can’t help but feel Lawrence and Ronnie’s story would be richer if their present was given the same depth and care as their past.

Off Balance

vlcsnap-2017-03-12-17h31m21s065Phew. Emmerdale has got really heavy and dark lately and it’s not a complaint, rather a concern. I’m all for dark and gritty storylines with an emotional truth at the centre, but right now the balance between this weighty drama and lighter fluff seems slightly off. This week saw: Aaron’s harrowing ordeal and his family’s grief, Pierce’s coercive control of Rhona and menace towards Vanessa, Jai’s drug struggle (as well as Aaron’s) alongside his and Moira’s grief, Jacob’s anxiety all alongside the deeply upsetting and ongoing story of Ashley’s dementia. While all these storylines are worthy issues to be explored and have fantastic performances and scenes – is Emmerdale becoming a bit too heavy and miserable of late? And this is just a glance at one week – we’re not even covering David or Sarah’s cancer to mention two other serious plots. Emmerdale does the lighter storylines – the comedy and the fluffier romance so well, but sometimes sitting down at 7pm does require a stiff drink! Maybe what I’m asking for is more Bob, more Bernice, more Pearl – more of the laughs and the fun. Bring on Gustav and the sexy book and the village choir – we could do with something to smile at.

Fave or Fail? (27 Feb-3 March 2017)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! An unbearable time for poor Aaron in a week that saw the comedy kidnap of Rakesh.

Marvellous Marlon

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

Team Jai

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

Brutally Compelling but Too Cruel?

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

Fails

Comedy Kidnap

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

Nothing Changes

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

Fave or Fail? (30 Jan-3 Feb 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale won another award this week and brought some fun to our screens as Doug, Tracy and even Moira brought the laughs.

Back to Badass

vlcsnap-2017-02-05-09h03m57s970It seemed like Moira finally had her mojo back this week and Natalie J Robb got to show us the full spectrum of who Moira is. In amongst the more heartbreaking and softer moments, such as the unexpected and lovely scene between her and Debbie and the scenes with Emma when she spoke about Holly, we saw Moira get her fire back. Moira seems to work effortlessly well with every character she interacts with – even the ashes scene with Victoria just about worked despite the bonkers sitcom nature of it. Her banter with Ross, the way she took none of Patrick-from-the-supermarket’s bullshit and was the perfect ballsy business woman. Although she’s on a bit of a breakdown and shouldn’t be facing things alone, it’s easy to fall in love with her fierce independence and ruthless, gutsy spirit. The car thieving definitely made me realise why her and Cain are so well suited and she doesn’t seem intimidated by anything. You keep fighting for your farm, Moira!

Harsh Words – Finally

emmerdale-thursday-2-feb-8pm-the-itv-hubThere was a scene this week which almost made my Scene of the Week choice, and that was the moment in the hospital between Lawrence and Chrissie where he finally confronted her about her vengeful behaviour. You might say too little too late considering his enabling of her dark side, but as he laid into her about her selfish behaviour, there was a sense of “Finally!” about the whole thing. For too long the Whites have acted without consequence and it seems like they might have some morals afterall. Some – okay, I said, some. Chrissie’s great when she’s unashamedly nasty but her bitterness and vulnerability in the scene was perfectly played by Louise Marwood, as she truly seemed like a broken woman, and it gave me hope that we might finally have a handle on who Chrissie really is.

Tracy’s Self Improvement Plan

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hub-2I’ve never minded Tracy but after the endless proposal stuff with David last year my interest nosedived, so thankfully she stepped forward with a fun story this week. Having decided she didn’t want to be seen as a bimbo and wanted to be taken seriously by people, Tracy decided to take steps to improve her vocab and read more. After David was slightly dismissive and confused by this new Tracy, she was even more determined to forge ahead, telling the kids in the shop how important school is. I loved seeing Tracy on a mission to educate herself, even with the setbacks and jokes at her expense. Even more so I love the idea of an Emmerdale book club, where Pearl is overeager and Doug bores everyone with non-fiction books he’s read. Community gatherings are my favourite!

The Torment of Doug

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hub-1I wouldn’t ever say I was a fan of Doug as such but his little comedy story battling the unknown enemy of Noah and Gabby was a simple and amusing subplot this week. Doug was his usual grumpy and earnest self, telling the kids to stop staring at their screens so they decided to get their revenge by writing some very cutting feedback and posting it into his honesty box, where he was selling veg. They left comments such as “this potato is more interesting than Doug” – and while Doug didn’t see the funny side, I did. Later in the week he tried a stake-out (but fell asleep) and then set up a CCTV camera. Sometimes it’s these simple comedy plots that work the best and I loved it.

Fails

Joanie Deserved Better

emmerdale-joanie-dies-youtubeAs is often the case when it comes to soap exits, the moment you warm to a character you previously were indifferent to, is usually the moment they leave the show. One last hurrah, as it were. That was the case for Joanie Wright, who had found her feet a little after ditching the spineless Zak Dingle – realising she deserved better, standing up to rotten men and forming a bond with Lisa. Having been unfairly imprisoned for punching the sleezy guy cracking onto Kerry (and then accidentally hitting a police officer) Joanie had almost been forgotten about by her allies in the village and then Lisa was given the job of collecting her and breaking the news about her reunion with Zak. Awkward. After an impassioned speech by Joanie (which was great, by the way) and a really frank conversation with Lisa, Joanie went silent and looked a little worse for wear, just as Lisa had decided to ditch Zak again. Then after the adverts we learnt that Joanie had croaked it. Just like that! No scene of the paramedics, no follow up. Gone. Joanie’s hardly a fan favourite, but even Kerry and Dan’s muted reaction left a lot to be desired. Maybe Emmerdale realised that breaking up Zak and Lisa was a bad decision and that there was no place for Joanie – but really, didn’t her death deserve a little more attention than this?

Zak Dingle: Human Trashcan

emmerdale-friday-3-feb-7pm-the-itv-hubSorry Zak, I do feel a bit bad considering this week you lost your wife – despite the fact you sent her a notice of divorce the day she was due out of prison – but you really are a bit of a dickhead. Not only has Zak flitted from Lisa to Joanie back to Lisa without little remorse or consequence, he admitted this week he hadn’t even written to Joanie as she suffered alone in prison. What a bastard, amiright?! I know it’s guilt, but so he should feel guilty! After giving Lisa an anniversary card she headed off to do his dirty work and confess to Joanie that her and Zak were back on, making Zak seem even more gutless. Unfortunately the damage has been done, and even his nice chat with Cain where he expressed his conflicting feels was too little too late. Too right you should feel guilty Zak, you treated Lisa and Joanie terribly and now Joanie’s dead! Bad form, Zak. Seriously.

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Jan 2017)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! It was a great week for the ladies of The Dales, with Bob’s appearance in Hunk Night being unmissable!

Faves

Hunk Night

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m02s833Hunk Night meant lots of great things in Friday’s episode (and no I’m not talking about the tacky and oily “hunks”). Firstly it gathered a big collection of the brilliant Emmerdale ladies looking glam and having a great time and who doesn’t love an excuse to see lots of characters on screen together having fun? It also created great little character moments like Ronnie ignoring Lisa’s important chat for a sneaky ogle and Zak backing out quickly in typical uncomfortable straight man fashion. It meant Bob got to shine (more on that below) and if was fun and loud – all the things we need on a Friday. It’s other purpose, dark and full of dread, was building the tension for Rhona’s story as Pierce grew more controlling. The tension was built and the juxtaposition between the party and Pierce’s mood made the after-party scenes difficult viewing

Party Bob

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h55m17s486I’m going to say it now to sort the wheat from the chaff – if you don’t love Bob Hope then we can’t be friends. For too long we’ve seen Bob stuck in the café like he was chained to his percolator, never to breathe fresh air again but the last few weeks he’s actually been around more and even being life and soul of the pub. On Monday we saw him serving behind the bar and dancing with the dream team of Charity and Chas (who were amazing this week too) but on Friday was where he really shined. We might be used to Bob giving friendly advice when he serves the lattes – and he was lovely with Rhona this week – but we learnt on Friday that Bob is definitely not shy and LOVES a bit of Hunk Night. You had to feel for poor mortified Carly but I loved Bob getting into the spirit of things and stripping to his boxers for a dance and happily talking about his stripper past with Chas. More of Bob getting his groove on and enjoying the party please! In fact, get him back in the pub working or otherwise!

Top Boss

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-21h57m23s455After Nicola’s accident at the Mill in the summer, her confidence took a real knock and after ups and downs with Jimmy we’ve seen her mojo take a kicking as she struggled to cope with the day-to-day activities at home. But this week we saw a positive change as Nicola regained her independence and her enthusiasm for work when she saw the state of the office Home James was operating out of and wanted to give it an overhaul. Is it any surprise when it’s home to four grubby blokes? Not only did this mean some fun comedy involving Jimmy and Robert, but it also meant Nicola is back to her organised and authoritative best. How long is that scrapyard going to look that neat and tidy though, really?

Great Performances

emmerdale-the-night-before-lachlans-trial-youtubeI’ve written before about my many issues with Lachlan White and Emmerdale’s missteps but despite this, Thomas Atkinson continues to deliver solid performances. Lachlan’s twisted to say the least and it’s in those scenes – when he’s trying to blag himself the family spoils, getting beaten up on purpose and showcasing his cruel plans to his mother – that his villainy is really watchable. Emmerdale’s characterisation is confused with it comes to the Whites but I can’t help but feel Lachlan on full-throttle bad – since they never made him remorseful – is the way forward, because with his history, eliciting sympathy cannot work. If Emmerdale went full on Joffrey Baratheon, then Thomas would ace it.

Fail

Courtroom Anti-climax

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-22h11m22s781This week was White drama heavy, centring on Lachlan’s court case over the shooting of Lawrence. It only happened in the summer, even though it feels about four years ago now due to the amount of time this story has dragged on, but with the court case done and dusted in a day the conclusion was finally approaching. It’s hard to sympathise with any member of the White family, often because when they’re not committing crimes (without punishment or much remorse) they’re not embracing their bad deeds but feeling sorry for themselves, in their privileged money pit. Boo and hoo. This trial was even more muddled than usual. Lachlan wasn’t guilty of attempted murder, but he did shoot Lawrence and the whole family conspired to frame Andy and they’ve all be remorseless about it. He might not be a gun-toting attempted murderer but he’s not an innocent young boy either, so hearing his family talk about him like that is bizarre. Therapy is what he needs, not enabling. All in all the drama surrounding Lachlan’s confession and verdict didn’t really seem to offer any sense of justice. The unfortunate problem with this long-running plot was that there’s a real lack of tension when you know Andy’s name being cleared is meaningless (actor Kelvin Fletcher has left seemingly for good) and the Whites won’t really be punished and will continue hovering between camp villains and victims. There seems like there’s a lot more potential there – particularly when it comes to a wealthy family protecting their psychopathic son against all odds, fully aware of and making no excuses for his behaviour – without trying to squeeze out sympathy for them.

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.