Fave or Fail? (20-24 May 2019)

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! We lost an Emmerdale legend this week as Lisa Dingle died. And we witnessed another big moment as Maya was arrested.

Faves

Lisa’s Death

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h47m51s914We’d only just got used to beloved matriarch Lisa Dingle being back in her rightful home and before we knew it, we’d lost her all over again – and this time, for good! After a fortnight of special “goodbye” scenes with individuals in the village we should have guessed Emmerdale were subtly hinting at her fast demise. But after the nostalgic and warm feeling of the Dingle wedding (see below) Lisa’s death was both understated and very fitting. When the time came Lisa was at home, with the doe eyed and expressive Monty, and one by one her family came to learn the sad news. These were impressive and heartfelt scenes. So much was done in the quiet, tender moments between the family members and Lydia also did a great job holding the family together. It feels like soon she and Sam will play a vital role in keeping the Dingles together, as others struggle to cope. The aftermath of Lisa’s death was particularly moving and the quiet scenes which panned over their homestead were a nice touch. Lisa will be a huge loss, but this was a fitting end to a treasured character.

The Big Dingle Wedding

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h50m34s696There’s nothing quite like a Dingle wedding! We’ve seen a few big do’s over the years but the nostalgic humour of pigs’ muck and a big Woolie knees up was the perfect calm before the sad storm of Lisa’s death. Emmerdale even reunited legendary show band The Woolpackers to perform their big hit (and yes, still singing it now). These episodes were fun, family filled and had a classic Emmerdale feel that was a truly warm-hearted send-off for Lisa. Even the central relationship of Zak and Lisa (though tainted by the stupid decision to split them in 2015) had a sentimental renaissance as the pair put the past behind them and celebrated their love. If I had only one niggle it would be that despite the family do, there were far too few village members at the reception and there are many who should have had a chance to say goodbye in their own way.

David’s Showdown

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h51m31s159David’s adamant refusal to call the police was getting to be teeth-grindingly frustrating but after days of waiting, he finally did the right thing. His delay this week was because he wanted to confront his wicked ex face to face and after tricking her to the cricket pavilion he got his wish. It was all a little convoluted getting to that point but the tension and the spiky dynamic between Maya and David was worth the wait. Louisa Clein continues to be brilliantly manipulative as Maya twists the truth and Matthew Wolfenden’s restrained fury and disgust was a satisfying watch. Just don’t leave us waiting for that all important justice, Emmerdale!

Diane’s Despair

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h49m55s582Since Victoria went away with Robert for a break, her sad plot has been put on hold for the time being but rather than lose momentum, I like that the story has continued through Diane and Aaron. This week saw Diane distant and struggling, coping alone with Vic’s secret tragedy and not knowing how to help her. Aaron, who had a nice turn this week as sage and comfort, did his best to reassure her. These were a surprisingly touching set of scenes and it’s nice to see two characters who rarely interact (despite being family) come together in comfort. It was a welcome change to see more of Diane too, who is one of Emmerdale’s most underused since she left the pub. More please!

Fails

Sacrificing Justice

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h53m37s328Maya’s arrest this week should have bought relief to Jacob’s loved ones but Leyla’s vigilante justice efforts threatened to jeopardise Maya’s conviction. Knowing she could get in serious trouble with the police, Leyla persuaded the other women to lie for her and they attempted to cover up the night of Maya’s kidnap. This posed a problem because Priya’s sighting of Maya and Jacob kissing should have been key evidence but of course, none of them spilled on that part, meaning Maya’s lies could very well see her go Scott free. We all know Leyla can be self serving at times but in this insistence it just didn’t sit right. How can the women that had helped to raise Jacob sit back and lie, knowing their words could seriously mean the difference between justice for their beloved family member and an abuser walking. I didn’t buy it and it lessened the emotional impact of their discovery. Perhaps they will realise their selfishness and confess but I was seriously disappointed to see them act so self-servingly instead of protecting a vulnerable child.

The End of the Line?

vlcsnap-2019-05-25-15h47m22s572I was once one of the biggest advocates for Pete and Rhona’s romance, from their sparky chemistry to Pete’s lovely relationship with Leo, but now the shine is starting to wear off. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve still got a nice chemistry and it’s good to see something different from Pete, but the strain on their relationship is starting to drain. After Rhona’s accident things haven’t been the same and while their differences of opinion on their future have always spelled trouble, the aftermath of Rhona’s hysterectomy should have been the bittersweet end of them. Let’s be honest, they’re doomed and they know it. Right now their struggle to stay together seems futile, the end is nigh and current scenes feel like a repetitive way to delay the inevitable. If there’s a way to rescue them and make them fun again I’m all for it but their prolonged break down is a chore to watch.

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Fave or Fail? (6-10 May 2019)

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 exceptionally good week of Emmerdale as the flashbacks from the Big Night Out revealed what really happened.

Faves

Victoria’s Episode

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-16h01m46s434It was clear Victoria’s flashback episode was going to be the hardest to watch, but having an entire episode centred on her night made that horrific ending a complete gut-punch and even more impactful. With Victoria’s rape being leaked by the press, the sense of dread hung over the episode, increasing the feeling that Vic was being lulled into a false sense of security with Lee, who at times even felt like boyfriend material. Seeing Vic so carefree having such a normal night out with a guy she was growing to like on their unconventional journey home, made knowing what was coming an unbearable prospect. The rape scenes themselves were traumatic to watch, but Isabel Hodgins gave impressive performances throughout, particularly given she was central the entire episode. While Emmerdale have had big sexual assault storylines every year this past five years and there’s a danger of these stories seeming repetitive or desensitising their impact, Vic’s episode was incredibly affecting.

The Maya Showdown Episode

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-16h00m04s537It’s what many viewers have been desperate to witness – the beginning of the end for Maya – and this week we finally got to see what really did happen to her after the club. What followed was a tense and thrilling episode as Leyla, Tracy and Priya attempted to get their head around Maya’s abuse of Jacob. Their pursuit of the truth led them to horror-esque scenes in the woods which also contained some brilliantly black humour to briefly ease the relentless tension. As the three confronted Maya, a melting pot of emotions lead to tensions in the group and Maya took her opportunity to escape, only to meet Leyla’s wrath and a rock to the head. Despite the scenes quickly spiralling, it didn’t lose its grounding as they held Maya accountable for her actions and refused to acknowledge her endless lies. It could have been all too easy to turn this story into a whodunnit of vigilante revenge, but Jacob’s reveal that Maya is still alive quickly put the focus back on the central crime and not a murder. This was an exciting non-stop episode that barely gave us time to breathe and a satisfying showdown to lead us towards Maya’s final downfall.

The Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-16h03m02s728This week of Emmerdale blew me away in its quality of well-written scenes and gut-wrenching performances, and the aftermath of Victoria’s ordeal was the show at its finest. It was Moira who Victoria turned to this week as she confided about her rape and these scenes were breathtakingly good. Moira and Vic have been at loggerheads since Victoria discovered Adam covered for Moira’s crimes, but Moira’s empowering words and comfort of her ex-daughter-in-law was exactly what she needed. Their past tensions weren’t brushed aside either and Vic lashed out in her trauma, blaming Moira for the domino effect of events, but Moira herself also had advice on her own experience of the damage of bottling up emotions. Isabel Hodgins and Natalie J Robb had a visceral on screen rapport and their performances worked to make the storyline even more emotive as both characters broke down in their own ways. This story is difficult viewing but with strong leading performances, it’s a story impossible to look away from.

David Learns the Truth

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-16h04m35s218Matthew Wolfenden is another of Emmerdale’s underrated actors so it was great to see him step forward again to the forefront of the show as the truth about Maya came to light. We’ve all been anticipating David’s reaction since the plot began and his conflicted response didn’t disappoint. Out of everyone, David’s reaction had the biggest emotional gut-punch, being that Jacob is not only his son, but Maya being his girlfriend meant the discovery contained a double betrayal. David has form for rash and unlikeable behaviour, but his gut reaction felt uncomfortably authentic as he seemed to suffer multiple stages of grief. There was denial and anger, sadly lashing out at Jacob when he realised he wasn’t being pranked. But that anger swiftly turned to horror and as he began to realise what Maya had been doing, he also began to blame himself. David’s progression through his complex reactions felt true to his character and there was no moment where it felt plot devicey or out of character. By the end of the week David was full of guilt and worry, first threatening Maya and then trying to plead with Jacob to talk. Emmerdale did a great job in this storyline of truly making the aftermath both uncomfortably raw and rewarding.

Twists and Turns

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-16h00m20s056It was a week of gripping episodes and the stories were made even more compelling by Emmerdale’s juicy twists and turns. I argued a few months ago that Emmerdale was struggling to find its ‘must-see’ momentum, but this week was something of a gamechanger. From early in the week, Leyla revealing she’d killed Maya, to us seeing a glimpse of Victoria at home talking to a faceless character – Emmerdale kept us guessing. Almost everything in the Maya episode was edge-of-your-seat viewing and Maya jumping from the car was a true gasp moment! But it didn’t stop there, with Leyla leaving Maya for dead it seemed obvious Emmerdale wouldn’t make it that straight forward and it was revealed Jacob had used his phone to find her and the two were holed up in a hotel room – Jacob had never even made it to Portugal. Rather than be a frustrating twist, it’s prolonged the story in a different way, keeping us all wondering how Maya will face justice.

Ellis’s Night Gone Wrong

vlcsnap-2019-05-12-15h59m19s255It’s fair to say that out of all the flashbacks episodes, Billy’s was the weakest. It was hard to connect when we knew Hotten General had discharged Ellis within days and much of Billy’s story involved characters we’d never meant before and a laboured backstory. Despite all this, there was enjoyment to be had from this episode. Not only was this the first of the club flashbacks and did a better job of interweaving the storylines than the original club episodes a fortnight ago, but getting a glimpse of the other blockbuster stories in the background gave a real ‘Super Soap Week’ vibe. When charming and cheesy Ellis took centre stage it was an enjoyable watch, particularly when his meet-cute romcom moment turned into a sinister twist and we learnt it was a rouse all along! This was a good start to the week of revelations, I only wish there were more stakes in the Billy and Ellis plot so Ellis’s stabbing had more impact.

Fave or Fail? (22-26 April 2019)

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 a huge week in Emmerdale as Thursday night took a dark and mysterious turn…

Faves

Three is the Magic Number

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-22h13m14s633The big question on everyone’s lips this week is – what happened to Maya? At the heart of this story is a pact between three great women – Leyla, Tracy and Priya – who were the first to learn the terrible truth about Maya and Jacob and since that reveal it hasn’t disappointed. Priya was the surprise first witness to Maya and Jacob kissing and this crucial moment was jaw-droppingly brilliant. We’d all been waiting for things to kick off and the delicious tension was a fitting climax to Thursday’s episode as Leyla could barely conceal her disgust, but like with the other key stories, we’ve been left in the dark as to what happened next. As the three women met up, they warred with a mix of guilt, fear and disgust as they tried to process both what had happened and the consequences of both their behaviour and Maya’s. This story offers everything and speculation is rife. Did their vigilante justice go too far? Will one of them crack? These three women are unlikely friends but now common allies against Maya and the events of that fateful night. We’ve been promised the ‘right’ ending for victim Jacob, so presumably the focus will return to him in time. But for now, I am gripped and thrilled by this turn of events and the chance for these three brilliant women to take centre stage.

The Morning After

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h06m08s376Perhaps the best part of this week’s promoted episodes actually came in the aftermath. Not only did the tension hinge on the three women’s role in what happened with Maya, but it was also discovering and scratching our heads over what else happened that night. Much like your typical ‘Whodunnit’, characters were looking shifty and behaving oddly, holding back until later flashbacks reveal all. Press has already revealed Victoria was raped on the night out, and even though we haven’t seen the scenes yet, Isabel Hodgin’s vulnerable portrayal has been affecting from the off and she’s bound to be the star to watch over coming weeks. Billy and Ellis’s rocky relationship looks set to shatter even further as we learn more about the stabbing, particularly as Billy himself was the one carrying a knife. And then there’s Rhona who seems to be carrying secrets of her own. This week set the stage for the arrival of some unmissable, compelling stories which admittedly is the aspect Emmerdale has been lacking lately – aside from the Maya plot. It feels good to return to have that excitement back!

Baby Steps

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h01m59s141Aaron and Robert made progress on their baby dreams this week when after much to-ing and fro-ing, Natalie agreed to be their surrogate. After Faith’s disastrous attempts to sell the lads’ as dream candidates, Aaron and Robert were nervous about making a good impression. As they sat down for a frank chat, details about some of the more unappealing aspects of their pasts came out. After the lacklustre Billy drama and the previous stop-start surrogacy saga, it was a pleasure to have the pair front and centre of a storyline again. It’s always a bit surreal to have characters discuss their outlandish lives on screen and hearing just part (and thankfully for them it was only a tiny part!) of their lives relived, it was no wonder Natalie got scared off. Getting their extended family involved has been something of a poison chalice for the guys, but getting Faith, Paddy – and finally some input from the Sugdens – gave the story a wider impact and made it feel more real. While reports have suggested Natalie won’t be back, I for one hope they’re wrong, as actress Thea Beyleveld had great comic timing and already a nice rapport with the other actors involved.

It’s All Fun and Games

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-21h33m25s055By the end of their Big Night Out there wasn’t much fun to be had, but it was a welcome slice of entertainment to have Bernice and Kerry’s bold sense of humours on full display at the club. Earlier in the week too we’d also seen Robert celebrate a drama-free birthday and the Sugden-Dingles gathered to see in 33 with shots of Sambuca and Diane got right involved. Sometimes it’s nice to see odd moments of normality, of joy and happiness between the dark and the disastrous lives these village folk lead.

The Beginning of the End?

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h08m17s088No one expected Rhona and Pete to last as long as they have, least of all the characters themselves, but their surprising sparky relationship has been an unusually popular hit with viewers. Ever since Rhona’s accident and hysterectomy, however, we’ve seen them become more strained and it seems as if they’ve reached breaking point. While some viewers have found Rhona’s angry and paranoid outbursts frustrating and unlikeable, Emmerdale have done a good job at making her breakdown believable. There are multiple factors at work here – self doubt, insecurity about her age and her inability to have children, a lack of trust in Pete and that’s without her huge hormonal changes and challenges with her painkiller addiction. Pete is struggling to cope with her unpredictable moods and unreasonable reactions, and it’s hard to watch knowing how genuinely committed he is to her. With the Big Night Out episodes hinting Rhona may have cheated, this looks to be the beginning of the end for Pete and Rhona. It’s a real shame, but I can’t help but enjoy the layered way they’ve let this relationship collapse play out. Great performances and great writing.

Fails

Minor Fails

  • The much anticipated, much hyped (complete with glossy promos) Big Night Out episodes left us with a buzz of anticipation (though probably, the real fun begins in the aftermath) but the club scenes themselves lacked atmosphere. The character groups may as well have been in different locations considering how little they crossed over and despite Bernice and Kerry, the stilted behaviour of the other club goers seemed like they were waiting for the drama to happen rather than enjoying themselves. Even the fire alarm moment lacked panic. Can’t help but feel this was a waste of an exciting location.
  • It was another near-miss for Jacob and Maya this week and Emmerdale once again toyed with the idea of them being caught out in a web of lies. Predictably it didn’t happen, but Maya’s bullying fabrication really stretched the boundaries of believability! Thank god we’re reaching a climax of this story.
  • Can’t help but feel we should have seen a shot of a bloody Ellis to end Thursday’s episode – him already being in hospital on Friday skipped the most shocking part!

Never Go Back

vlcsnap-2019-04-27-12h01m05s932Anyone who reads this blog knows what a big Tracy fan I am and how much I enjoyed her realisation last year that she deserved better than hapless David Metcalfe, so it was unfortunate this week to see them kiss. This isn’t the first time Tracy and David have revisited their old relationship, but this time felt far more contrived, just to trigger Maya storming out of the club. While the kiss was understandable on David’s part as he licked his wounds after a failed proposal, Tracy is settled, strong and growing close again to Billy – so why regress her character with the kiss? It might have been a minor plot device but I just hope it doesn’t give Emmerdale any ideas. Tracy deserves better than that.

Scene of the Week (22-26 April 2019)

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There’s nothing like a killer line to get us all excited and it was the turn of Leyla to deliver it as she grit her teeth and told Maya that Tracy “is the least of your worries, darlin'”. From that line alone we know we’re in for a delicious revenge twist, as Maya’s lies and grooming of Jacob have been exposed. This moment was what it’s all been building to and as oblivious Maya thought she was getting a lift home, the new power trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya lay in wait. Leyla could barely contain her rage, as she seethed through a tight jaw and ominous lines of dialogue, us viewers were enraptured dying to know what comes next. This felt like a juicy tease of what’s to come, and if this moment is anything to go by then it’s going to be worth the wait!

Fave or Fail? (15-19 April 2019)

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! As Matty underwent his top surgery, Harriet was haunted by a threatening presence.

Faves

Bad, Mad and Dad

vlcsnap-2019-04-19-17h22m43s297Back in December when Harriet and Dawn’s connection was first revealed, I criticised the decision to kill off Dawn’s dad, suggesting that sacrificing the juicy torment it would give Harriet all these years later was a wasted opportunity. I also felt a little short changed that after years of resentment and bitterness towards Harriet, Dawn had so quickly let her back into her life. So it was an absolute joy to have the rug pulled out from under us this week and reveal that not only is Dawn’s father still alive (played by the brilliant Dean Andrews) but that she’s been in on it all along! Stories of undercover police forming long term relationships with criminal suspects has made headlines recently and the long term impact on the people involved is ripe for exploring in Emmerdale so I’m really excited to see what’s ahead. While some viewers feel this turn-around from Dawn has made her instantly unlikeable and feel betrayed, I feel it’s far more realistic to have her conflicted. Harriet was once a mother to her, and her undercover status sent Dawn’s life into a dark and miserable trajectory so this twist makes her intentions interesting and begs a question of just how much of her is genuine, and how far will she get involved in her dad’s plans before her conscience takes hold? This is a gripping story with so much potential and I think Dean Andrews is going to make a cracking villain. Bring it on!

Harriet’s Horror

vlcsnap-2019-04-20-12h32m46s917I’ll admit that I’ve never been keen on cool vicar Harriet, and even her much-hyped good versus evil bunk up with Cain didn’t do much to me, but times are changing. This week scenes in Emmerdale verged into horror movie territory as Harriet continued to be harassed by her secret stalker. Levels of creepiness escalated from minor meddling to full on terror as the church bells rang and Harriet found herself locked in. These were well shot scenes, letting us experience the unnerving sensations Harriet was suffering and allowing our empathy to increase. While viewers now know the culprit of this revenge, Harriet’s still in the dark and feeling as if she’s becoming a paranoid mess and there’s nothing more frightening than feeling you’re totally alone like this. Tension is high now to see how far this vendetta goes, and even more so to see Harriet discover the shocking truth behind whose responsible!

Fun For All

vlcsnap-2019-04-19-17h23m13s136Thursdays’ episodes centred on the opening of a new beer garden at the Woolie which will also serve as a living memorial for Grace, but it wasn’t just the addition of a new set that was a highlight, but the community spirit the scenes granted. It was enjoyable to see a selection of characters in one place, especially when it comes to comedy moments like Charity’s puppet show, but it also helps to tie lots of plots all together. There have been times in Emmerdale’s past where stories have felt boxed in, but from gatherings like this, to Nicola’s campaigning, and even Harriet’s stalking nightmare, plots seem to be managing to cross over a lot at the moment. Thursday’s beer garden opening managed to feature Priya’s rivalry with Aiesha, Paddy’s relationship with Bear, Charity keeping the secret of Lisa’s illness, Dawn’s secret revenge, Aaron and Robert’s fall out with Faith – and these cross-over moments add cohesion to the village.

Teen Torment

vlcsnap-2019-04-20-12h31m23s242The burden of Maya and Jacob’s secret and her blackmail weighed heavily on Liv this week. There’s an aspect of naivety and desperation in her actions which feels true to her age, but she’s not without guilt and panic. Liv wars between an act of revenge for being hurt herself, and using the money to help her family, to battling this moral dilemma alone. Luckily for Liv she had the comfort of best friend Gabby to console her when she worried her attempts to extort money from Maya was a bad move – though of course, Liv’s still not owned up to why she’s so nervy. The Liv and Gabby friendship is one of Emmerdale’s finest friendships and I’m glad we’ve had more of it lately. When the full truth of Maya’s behaviour comes out, I have high hopes that Gabby will be the one to mend the fractures in this teen group.

Flaky Father

vlcsnap-2019-04-20-12h34m20s733Bothersome, lay-about Bear might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m finding his struggling relationship with Paddy worth a watch. This is new ground for Paddy, who’s keen but cautious to form a relationship with Bear. This week, as Paddy experienced a fresh wave of grief over Grace when opening her garden, he asked for Bear’s involvement in the day, hoping it would reassure him of Bear’s commitment to his new family. Unfortunately for Paddy, Bear shirked his responsibilities and Paddy was left angry and crushed. Actor Dominic Brunt is really proving himself with this different and complex material. It’s early days for Bear, but away from the ridiculous wrestling stuff, he has potential and I think will continue to help Paddy show undiscovered sides to his character.

Fail

Split Secret

vlcsnap-2019-04-20-12h38m37s761The Spencer family might not be fan favourites, but there have been times where their lowkey stories have been easy viewing among some of the more intense plots in the village. However since Dan and Kerry’s split, their efforts to keep it secret from Amelia has felt unnecessarily tedious. It might have been Dan’s plan to keep Kerry close and win her back round but the failure of that was obvious, and should have been, even to him. They might have wanted to protect Amelia from the truth but her finding out showcased the family at their most unlikeable again. Kerry’s felt a little hard faced, Dan feckless and Amelia has just come across as a brat. Conflict within this family never seems to land right and I find myself wanting all the characters involved to grow up, or at least stick to the more light hearted material!

Fave or Fail? (25-29 March 2019)

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 Cain learnt Joe’s alive and Rishi and Manpreet revealed that they’re married!

Faves

The Fab Four

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h44m16s428They’re just one Dingle wedding away from all being one big family, but the power couple quartet of Robron and Vanity joined forces this week – first to finish a business deal and then to save it! The week begin with Charity using her womanly wiles to schmooze Robert’s client, after agreeing to take a cut of the profits herself. But once an unhappy Vanessa got involved, she realised Mike was up to no good and ended up stealing his car! The four made an unlikely dream team with Charity and Robert’s kindred spirits exhausting their other halves, but it was after Vanessa’s panicked efforts to thwart Mike’s backstabbing that the fun really began. While Robert, Aaron and Charity aren’t opposed to a bit of criminal behaviour to get what the want, clueless Vanessa was amusingly amateur. Once again Michelle Hardwick’s fun comedy performances made the rescue of the car a fun contrast against Aaron and Robert’s open-mouthed disbelief at her school boy errors. While this foursome are used to big emotionally dramatic plots, it was nice to see the couples have some fun in a comedy capers story, each of them all using their talents and funny mix of personalities. Here’s hoping Emmerdale makes the most of their popularity and gives the four another chance to cross paths for some fun in future.

Fresh and Contemporary

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h48m23s342Emmerdale’s story with Billy this week is definitely worth commending. So far Billy’s been shown as a complex and interesting character and this week, facing racism and a confrontation in the park, Emmerdale tried to take on a relevant and contemporary story. His muddled introduction, facing dramatic in the dark hostility from Ellis and the unresolved issue of Billy’s role in Aaron’s prison ordeal, has left some viewers struggling to connect, however Emmerdale’s attempts to create a multi-layered character have been worthwhile. Newbies often come in as a bit of a shapeless caricature but the impact of Billy’s upbringing, societal and cultural issues of race, the long-term impacts of prison and male violence show that Emmerdale have really tried to make an effort in shaping a well-rounded character. Its attempts might not always be successful, heavy handed to some, but a new character like Billy has a lot more potential as someone without the cliched introduction of “mysterious bad boy”!

New Lease of Life

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h46m14s593It’s been great to see more of the Sharmas lately, especially a character like Jai who was once so hateable and villainous that it was a waste of actor Chris Bisson’s warmth and humour. While within the family, it’s Jai and Priya’s sibling relationship that provides most of the good scenes, but in the factory Jai’s new friendship with colleague Laurel seems to be going down well with fans. Some viewers have ever noticed a chemistry between them that sets tongues wagging about a possible and unlikely romance. Whether that happens or not, the pair work surprisingly well together and it’s nice to see both characters finding their feet after Jai’s villainy and Laurel’s affair with Bob tarnished opinion of them for quite some time.

Fails

Grim Kim

vlcsnap-2019-03-29-21h45m35s245If there’s one word to sum up this week’s Kim plot, it’s grim. The lacklustre Joe reveal rumbled on this week and even Cain wasn’t told in a particularly dramatic way. For reasons unknown, Kim’s returned with a whole catalogue of gripes and vendettas and a long wish list of businesses she wants to own. Rather than let Kim bed into Emmerdale and grow new rivalries, Emmerdale seem to determined to give her enemies and motives that make little sense to anyone watching. Kim’s experience with the Dingles in her first stint was mainly through Sam and Zak, but on returning she’s decided to hate them all, except for Cain who for some nonsensical reason she wants to sleep with. Okay, so Cain does have his appeal to the opposite sex and soap affairs often happen with an impulsive attraction to the bad boy – but Kim’s desire to have the man she can’t have, toying and blackmailing him just feels completely baseless. There’s no chemistry between the actors and while Kim is better outside of the Graham bubble, she’s still far too cartoonish to take seriously. But the worst of it? Blackmailing someone for sex is just sleazy and horrid to watch. Alongside the attempts to tell the Maya and Jacob in an educational and responsible way, this plot feels sordid and grubby. We want Kim to be the villain we love to hate, not someone using money and power to essentially rape someone. Cain isn’t even remotely tempted so the whole storyline comes across as an ill-judged, misguided plot. Nasty.

Fave or Fail? (18-22 Feb 2019)

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! Emmerdale went back to its farming roots this week as a tractor accident had terrible consequences for Rhona.

Faves

Life Changing Accident

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h41m00s565Rhona suffered a nasty injury this week after a faulty tractor, driven by a worse-for-wear Pete, smashed into a barn. Following the accident, things escalated and Rhona was told she had fibroids in her womb and would need a hysterectomy to remove them. This immediately threw Rhona and Pete’s relationship into turmoil as they’d been living a laid-back romance and brushed aside more serious talks of the future. Not only did this story have the tension of who was to blame for the accident, but this also created interesting dilemmas in Pete and Rhona’s popular romance. Emmerdale haven’t utilised their farming setting in ages so it was great to see this used to explore conflict within a relationship. This story has already got fans speculating if and how Rhona and Pete could move forward, or whether it’s the end of the road for them with the kids factor being an insurmountable obstacle, and talking points like this are the backbone of great stories. It was great to see Pete find common ground in an unlikely heart-to-heart with Paddy and a welcome return of Zoe Henry’s stand-out performances. With a relationship on the line, Rhona’s painkiller addiction revisited and a hysterectomy affecting Rhona’s hormones, I can’t wait to see how this story progresses.

Friendship Focus

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m07s218Friendships and great partnerships can often be forgotten depending on the storyline, so I was thrilled to see so many Rhona and Vanessa scenes this week as their friendship is one of my favourites in Emmerdale. Although Rhona has support from Pete and her exes Paddy and Marlon, there’s nothing that quite matches the tenderness of her friendship with Vanessa. Emmerdale have dropped the ball in showing them together since they both became busy with their love lives, but I hope they don’t forget about them again. I loved their scenes before Rhona’s accident as they teased each other about their romances, but their emotional hospital scenes were a real highlight of the week. Going forward I hope Vanessa continues to be supportive of Rhona, especially now that her relationship with Pete has hit the rocks.

Serious Sharmas

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m50s007Manpreet’s story continued this week as she stole from the factory accounts and eventually came clean with Rishi. I’ve completely grown to love Manpreet’s role in the Sharma family, lifting them away from cartoonish stories and giving them grounded family drama. With suspicious Jai and Priya worried about her taking advantage of Rishi’s big heart, they took a tough love approach, but the writing for this storyline allow both sides their time to be understood. We can accept Manpreet’s struggle with her addiction and like her, but also empathise with Jai’s kids who are trying to look out for him. Involving Manpreet with the factory workers and seeing her socialise with colleague Liam also really helped to widen the Sharma’s circle as often their stories can feel isolated. I’m glad the Sharmas are getting to do more than mess around with fancy dress and Lycra, because they’re capable of the serious and heartfelt too.

Bonus Faves

  • I can’t let this week pass without mentioning how happy I was to see villagers actually at work! Manpreet’s first aid training, Liam’s GP surgery, the BnB hosting breakfast, factory and farming centred drama – it really felt like characters had a life, rather than waiting for the next story to drop. Using work to facilitate stories makes the village life feel far more authentic!
  • I was so happy to see Jimmy and Nicola reunited this week – and Jimmy throwing himself into make up sex was this couple to a T. Perfect.
  • Speaking of perfect, is there any couple more fun, more Carry On and more entertaining to watch than Bernice and Liam? Long live Cavastock, they are exactly what the doctor ordered!

Fails

Daddy Drama

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h43m27s515Paternity drama is ten a penny in soaps, but Emmerdale fell into predictable and irritating tropes again this week as Chas and Marlon continued to badger Paddy about finding out if Bear Wolf was his “real dad”. Having been unable to take Paddy’s word for it, Chas secretly sent off for a DNA result and endlessly discussed it with Marlon this week. Chas’s insistence was tiresome and unlikeable, particularly when Paddy rightly pointed out that biology made no difference to him, his dad was the man who raised him and Bear Wolf didn’t want to know. Chas nagging about this issue of “real”  was unnecessary. This story felt lazy, relying on dated concepts of biological ties being more significant, which coming from Chas didn’t work when she’s seen herself that Paddy’s been a far greater father to Aaron than his “real” dad Gordon. To make matters worse, after wearing Paddy down into reading the result, he found out Bear Wolf is his biological father meaning we’re destined to watch more of that awful character and this repetitive story. Oh boy.

No More Mr Nice Guy

vlcsnap-2019-02-23-22h40m15s142Ryan’s introduction to Emmerdale last year was a big hit with viewers but the countryside air must have got to him as this week we saw a nasty side to his personality that didn’t seem like the character we’d liked so much. Being an outsider in the village meant Ryan didn’t come with all the baggage and petulance that most soap characters have. He seemed like a cool, mature bloke, open minded with a sarcastic sense of humour – a refreshing change. This week, however, he reverted to a selfish sulky teenager and went as low as offering Dawn money for sex when his jealousy and insecurity took over. After oafish drayman Leon, Ryan was supposed to look empathetic, like a guy who’d just made a mistake, but his relationship with Dawn until this point had been compassionate and nuanced so his reaction to throw money at her was a big misstep. Exploring Ryan’s issues with his own self-worth and feeling insecure against Leon’s macho act needed the care and depth to do it justice. This week’s scenes didn’t have that, and it was difficult to empathise with him. Instead Ryan looked petty and cold and when it all came out, it was impossible not to be on Dawn’s side as Ryan’s remorse was lacking and he just seemed sulky. Even Ryan’s relationship with Charity, which had once felt fresh and different, is now repetitive. Like she does with Debbie, Charity’s begun to enable Ryan’s behaviour, mothering and interfering, and Ryan was once more independent than to tolerate that. Emmerdale need a serious rethink before they ruin Ryan’s character for good.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Jan 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! Bob resorted to sleeping on a park bench this week and piggy delight Spamela ran riot.

Faves

Bob without Hope

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h03m25s399I have to commend Emmerdale in their speedy turn around in making Bob empathetic again. Bob was always a character I enjoyed but we really saw the worst of him during the Bob and Laurel debacle and I wondered whether I’d ever like his cheeky charm again. Cleverly Emmerdale has done a good job in showing down-on-his-luck Bob’s situation getting worse and worse and his pride holding him back from asking for help. Bob’s story has emotionally shown how quickly someone’s life can crumble and how even when working, they can find themselves destitute and homeless. With Bob feeling pressurised from all angles, he kept up a façade of normalcy so the warning signs were missed by friends and family. This story has built nicely and this week it came to a heart wrenching conclusion when Bob found himself in hospital. Performances by Tony Audenshaw and Lesley Dunlop were fantastic, helping to rebuild the pair’s fractious relationship and it was nice to see the ‘man club’ briefly reunite to help lift Bob’s spirits. Seeing Bob in such a bad way was a tough watch but I hope things don’t end there. Bob’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy could highlight pertinent issues in male mental health struggles and as it’s one of their strongest stories for a while, it’s worth continuing.

Casual Becoming Serious

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h13m28s500I was firmly on the fence when it came to deciding who I wanted Victoria paired off with, but after umming and ahhing between the slow-burn friends turned lovers romance with her and Matty or the funny and endearing romance with Ellis, the latter might just have swayed me. This week saw Vic panic she was pregnant and despite their no-strings arrangement, Ellis seemed ready to step up to the plate if needed. The scenes were a lot of fun as the whole family got involved, but the resolution was much sadder for Victoria. While she knew Ellis and her were too new a couple and too different to have a kid, she still longs to be a mother after her failed attempts with Adam. Actress Isabel Hodgins gave a hugely emotive performance as Vic wept for the negative result and the realisation that all those issues about Adam, motherhood and her future were still unresolved. I like that there’s been no quick fix for her and that she’s still struggling in the fall out, even with lovely Ellis on her arm. As for these two? I really love them together and I actually think they could work well in the long term, even if Robert’s machinations might cause problems. It might be too soon for babies, but happiness for Victoria is top of my wishlist.

More Manpreet

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h06m54s257The Sharmas are some of Emmerdale’s most underused characters, but with Manpreet moving into the village, I’m hopeful we might see more of all of them soon. Manpreet has such a breezy, fun loving attitude to life and she’s a welcome addition to our screens. No only does she seem smitten with loveable Rishi but she’s got great chemistry with Jai and Priya too. This week saw her consider moving closer to Emmerdale for work, and the siblings tried to get Rishi to ask her to move in with them, a plan which eventually played off. Manpreet is a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than a newbie destined for villainy or outrageous behaviour, but maybe it’s because of that she’s fitted in well. I can only hope this leads to more screentime for the Sharmas and less sitcom side stories!

Real Talk

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h15m41s984When Moira returned to the village this week after a brief trip to see Nana Barton, she found reassurance in a surprising chat with Aaron. In the midst of this bloated Cain and Joe story, Moira’s lost her way as a character and it’s hard to remember her as the down to earth farmer she was. Luckily, this scene with Aaron in the café was a welcome return to that, with Aaron helping her to see that despite Cain’s nightmare behaviour he really does love her. There’s nothing I enjoy more in Emmerdale that characters with shared experiences having a chat and if anyone knows about nightmare husbands then it’s Aaron. With him and Moira reflecting on the strained relationship at Butler’s farm, it just made me long for the scene partners we don’t usually see. Aaron and Moira have a shared history and they’re family, but we barely see them together. Conversations like these are a good way of not only keeping onscreen relationships fresh but they ground the characters in some much-needed reality.

Fail

Murder Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h09m48s881The “Cain murdered Joe” plot is so messy I’m struggling to find any real enjoyment from it, despite loving most of the characters on Team Cain. With both Cain and Moira being killers (or “killers” in Cain’s case) the arguments in Butlers have felt far too blasé and seem like a game of murder Top Trumps. Moira’s reactions have been cold and detached like a bizarre mob wife, willing to support Cain regardless, but surely even Moira, with Emma’s blood on her hands would struggle with this? Even Faith, whose love for her son is high, seems willing to overlook what he’s done, despite the fact by the end of Joe’s tenure in Emmerdale he was liked by most of the Dingles. Only Matty was willing to acknowledge that this was a terrible crime, but even he was berated by Moira and co for betraying the family, even though his reaction seemed like the only sane one between them. Debbie’s barely frosty, chilled out enough to be cosy with Faith who hasn’t made her support of Cain a secret and this seems completely out of character when she was willing to leave the village for less a few years ago. With everyone unfussed about Cain being a murderer, or desperate to believe his innocent, there are zero stakes. What’s the point? What will change for Cain if Graham reveals the truth or if Joe rocks up – apart from Debbie cracking a smile maybe? And with Graham undoubtedly set to feature heavily when Kim returns, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be found out any time soon. If Emmerdale were unwilling to commit to Cain being completely destroyed and disowned in a story that saw him go down for a crime he didn’t commit then they shouldn’t have bothered. I can’t see a resolution here that will satisfy, I just hope we can forget this story ever happened ASAP.

9 Emmerdale Wishes for 2019

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We’ve just begun a shiny new year and it’s the perfect time to ponder what storylines or changes we’d like to see for Emmerdale in 2019. I had a good think, I asked on Twitter and here are my Top 9 wishes for Emmerdale in 2019.

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Backstory for Vanessa

Since becoming Charity’s girlfriend, we’ve seen a lot more of Vanessa but it would be nice to see more of her in her own right. Besides dad Frank we know very little about Vanessa’s family and past. Isn’t it about time someone from Vanessa’s past was introduced, or why not meet her mum? If the rumours are true and a Vanity wedding is on the cards then this is the perfect time to explore more about Vanessa.

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Show Some Success

Whether it’s a business going under, a plan going awry or exams being failed, we’ve seen a lot of failure over the years. Characters can’t always been happy and winning, but I think it’s about time someone had some good luck. 2018 saw Tracy start a new business and it would be great to see ambition pay off. Then there are characters like the Kings who haven’t been high-flying for years. Nicola is someone always looking for a bigger and better life – why not have her reach a level of success? And if the soap gods work their magic, maybe she and Jimmy realise that it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be!

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Big Stories for Coira and Robron

Two of Emmerdale’s biggest and most beloved couples reunited last year but since then their storylines have been bitty. Cain and Moira had Matty, Debbie and Graham to contend with, while Robert and Aaron supported their sisters and Rebecca through their big stories. But what next for the two big couples? Cain and Moira spent a lot of the year apart on screen so something that unites them and repairs the distance of their time apart would be good. For Robert and Aaron in their first year of married life, a story that changes the dynamic between them would be interesting to see – it’d be good to see Aaron getting in on the schemes for once! Whatever the stories ahead for both couples, it seems obvious that viewers just want to see more of their favourite couples together in great stories!

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More Village Gossip

Since losing characters like Betty and seeing less of comedic gems like Pearl, the village has been missing that key ingredient: gossip. Community is a huge part of village life and it was great to see more of that in 2018 but it’s not just parties and events that could tie characters and stories together – it’s also villagers having a natter about what else is going on the village! There’s plenty of scandal and drama along Main Street so there’s ample opportunity for big-mouthed characters to stick their oar in.  

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A Funny Feel Good Wedding

Happy weddings are a rare event for soap, but I’d love to see a wedding in 2019 for a fun loving couple. There’s Sam and Lydia, Faith and Eric or even new couple Liam and Bernice. These are genuinely funny, heart-warming couples who deserve a special day – and you just know the weddings would be full of laughs. It doesn’t all have to be disasters and slapstick, but imagine Lydia’s dance routine or Bernice going Bridezilla. And there’s always room for a classic soap twists and turns – let’s just see the villages having a good time.

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No More Special Episodes

I’ve loved Emmerdale’s attempt to reinvigorate the soap genre with special episodes, flashbacks and episodes that really dig deep into a character’s psyche. But now I think it’s time to give those kinds of episodes a rest and stick to good quality, linear storytelling. The more special episodes are made the less unique they get. Save them for when they really matter, Emmerdale!            

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Keep Kim 3D

My biggest wish for 2019 is that Emmerdale make the most of Kim’s return and don’t turn her into a caricature. Kim is an iconic Emmerdale soap bitch, but she’s not just a campy villain and I hope that when she returns the writers won’t lose sight of that and tarnish the fond memories viewers have of her original tenure. Keep Kim grounded, with flaws and vulnerabilities and that way her one-liners and sharp attitude will keep Kim at her best.

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Give Jai and Priya Something Gritty

2018 was a complete waste of the Sharmas. Priya briefly struggled with her mental health but that was glossed over quickly and Priya joined the rest of the family for silly sitcom subplots. Jai and Priya have a great sibling relationship and have been on the side-lines for ages so I think it’s about time they had a great, emotionally testing story.

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Reinvent Debbie Dingle

Oh Debbie, where to begin? She might be seen as the leading lady of the Dales, but unfortunately Debbie’s stories (and her personality) need a rethink. We’ve explored the same old ground for her when it comes to her love life and there isn’t much that manages to raise a smile. Even when she does something dark and reckless (like the acid attack story) her family manage to treat Debbie as a victim. With Joe gone and the truth about to be revealed, it’s time to shake Debbie up and give her something to do that we’ve not seen before. Could Emmerdale explore her bisexuality again? Give her a new friendship? A new job?

7 Recent Storylines With Potential That Just Vanished

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

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Moira and the impact of killing Emma

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

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Joe Tate vs the world

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

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Liv’s drinking and asexuality

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

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The Kings – business and health problems

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

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Priya’s struggling mental health

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

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Syd MacFarlane’s threat to Aaron

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

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Eliza’s health problems

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