If dark political times in the real world haven’t convinced you already, then this week’s Emmerdale would have done the job: the apocalypse is coming. That’s right, this week Debbie and Aaron Dingle actually smiled. I know right? Miracles can happen. As a brief reprieve from their respective miseries, this paintballing scene was so welcome. “Debbie Death Stare”, as her daughter named her, isn’t the happiest of villagers and after ill advised snooping in her daughter’s diary wanted to prove she could lighten up and show Sarah a good time – which she did, albeit with difficulty at first! It was nice to see Charley Webb get to play something a little less serious and her family scenes are always a highlight. After the breakdown of his marriage Aaron too has had a hellish few months in the tragic saga that is his life, but Cain offered him support in a loving but very Cain way. Sure, Aaron might be in a better place if his family had given him this kind of concern months ago, but at least they’re there now. This scene was a fun surprise, full of warmth and humour and exactly the sort of family scenes we need in Emmerdale.
Last week Emmerdale super couple Aaron and Robert split up, with Aaron unable to cope with the pressures of his marriage, in light of Rebecca’s pregnancy. It seems only five minutes ago their engagement sealed off a perfect movie-style romance in Super Soap Week and their wedding was an unconventional TV treat. Now their marriage is broken, fans are fed up and it seems like everyone’s tired of their endless angsty storylines. What went wrong?
Aside from the Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley magic, here’s just a few ways I think Emmerdale can attempt to fix one of their most popular couples and make viewers start caring again.
Back to Basics
It’s never been smooth sailing for Robron and their relationship was always unconventional, but it seems like The Powers That Be have really lost sight of what made the pair so popular. Part of the pleasure in watching a soap is seeing characters and relationships develop. With Robron it was the interest in watching someone as angst ridden as Aaron fall for someone with their own troubles, like Robert, hoping that one day they’d make a go of it. As the story progressed fans didn’t just like watching their two personalities clash and challenge each other, they liked their passion for each other and the fleeting shot at happiness. That they understood each other and supported each other. But lately there’s been a real drought in hope and happiness and we rarely get to see them enjoy each other’s company. Aaron’s history of tragedy made fans long for his happiness and despite Robert’s bad boy instability, he gave him that. It was never going to be easy; part of the enjoyment was watching them work for that. We fell in love with their sexy and tumultuous romance, but their bond and happiness at being together has taken a real knock in the quest to give them more obstacles.
Give The Misery a Rest!
Arguments, angst, fighting and tears. It’s been the story since day one, but after Aaron’s horrible abuse trial ordeal I think everyone hoped it was about time for a break from the misery. Danny Miller’s tears are award-winning but there comes a point where the heartache reaches saturation point and people are desensitised by Aaron’s latest pain. Soaps don’t really do happiness, unless you’re a comedy couple, but everyone needs light and shade. Even Robron’s wedding was doused in sadness knowing Aaron was heading to prison a day later. Emmerdale couldn’t even give him a day! So this one’s a pretty simple fix really – give them some happier times! We’ve had the same old arguments for well over six months now and it’s time Emmerdale figured out how to find a better balance. We know they’re meant to be, but we’ve stopped seeing that side of them – unless we’re due a four episode argument and another break up, of course!
Explore New Ground
Their Super Soap Week special showed us that Aaron and Robert are a lot more than angst machines – they’ve got a great comedic partnership too. Not only would a bit of humour give the actors something fun to do, it would be the “light” we’re crying out for. It doesn’t always have to be violence, cheating, drugs and death, you know! But not only that, Aaron and Robert have slipped into a pattern, and a bad habit of behaviours that form many of their stories. It goes something like this: Robert does something bad or something Aaron doesn’t like (intentionally or not), Aaron gets angry and upset, they argue and Robert begs for forgiveness. Sound familiar? How about something different to watch, eh? Test the characters in different ways, explore sides to the lads and their relationship we haven’t seen before. Both of them are complex – there’s a lot to delve into rather than the same old ground.
Break The Bubble
This is a problem shared by many of the characters in Emmerdale, but one – if fixed – could lift Aaron and Robert out of their rut. Often characters stay in their “bubble” – take David and Tracey, for example, who often seem superglued to the shop, but the last few months, with most of their drama revolving around their marriage and personal issues Aaron and Robert have only interacted with a select few characters. Friendship and family should be the central factor in Emmerdale, but with Chas and Liv gone, Paddy busy, Aaron’s a bit of a forgotten Dingle and the Sugdens are even more fractured – Robron seem stuck in the same conversations with the same few characters. Again and again. So this rescue remedy is all about variety. Some of their more surprising interactions (Aaron’s awkward friendship with Finn, Robert allying with Bernice) have been a welcome change from the angst, but we could really do with more integration into village life and less rehashing of the same issues without resolution.
The Rebecca Problem
Since her arrival last October, when she tried to tempt Robert back to bed, Rebecca White’s sole purpose in Emmerdale seems to be just to trigger repetitive and tiresome problems between Aaron and Robert. And let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly made her popular with fans of Emmerdale’s super couple. But if you thought we might one day see the end of their age-old arguments about Aaron’s insecurities and Robert’s cheating past, Rebecca’s pregnancy doesn’t offer much hope of that! So does this mean we’re destined to watch a future of her being the third wheel, rolled out whenever they need a bit of drama (read: argument they’ve had a hundred times before)? Well let’s hope not, eh? Because then we’ll never get the above fixes. There are a number of ways this story could go – but one thing’s for sure, Rebecca’s continued presence as a convenient thorn in their side isn’t doing any character favours and I’m longing for change, however that may be.
Last year Emmerdale took home the big one – Best British Soap – at the British Soap Awards, for the first time in its history. The last twelve months in Emmerdale have been brilliant, so here are just a few reasons why Emmerdale is still the best soap and why you should vote for them at the Soap Awards.
Dealing with Tough Issues
Emmerdale has been praised for its heartfelt stories about issues that have grounding in reality and deal with difficult subjects such as marital rape and dementia – and rightly so. Episodes like Holly’s tragic and shock death from a heroin overdose and Ashley’s passing were emotive and touching, particularly as they connected with an audience who had suffered similar tragedies in their own lives. These stories are soap at their finest and are especially effective when we have spent years watching these characters and their lives play out.
Super Soap Week
It’s hard to imagine that Emmerdale’s Super Soap Week will ever be bettered. It had it all: a unique storytelling device, beautiful camera work, character focused episodes and then a blockbuster style stunt like nothing we’ve ever seen in soap before. It brought together a range of villagers in stories which covered multiple genres and saw their lives collide – literally. It was visually impressive, ambitious and a real treat for any Emmerdale or soap fan.
Emmerdale is blessed with a fantastic range of vibrant characters but it doesn’t make caricatures of them. Characters we think of as the fools can still face heartbreak; the bad guys can have a soft side. Bad deeds are done and bad decisions are made, but mostly the people we see onscreen feel human – like people we know and actions we can believe. Even some of its morally grey characters like Robert or Emma, have complicated emotional cores that are a joy to watch unfold. And even Emmerdale’s out-and-out villains like Pierce are more than just there for cackling and evil deeds – they showcase the dark side of human nature.
There’s a reason why Emmerdale’s so full of great characters and hard-hitting storylines, why the cast is so beloved by all who watch and that’s simply down to how hugely talented the actors are. We’re moved to tears of sadness and laughter, we’re shocked and angered. We could hand out fifty awards and still feel like the cast deserve more. From the stunts to the quiet moments of pain and heartbreak, the Emmerdale actors nail it all. A vote for Emmerdale is a vote for this talented bunch and all the crew behind the scenes who make their performances even more powerful.
A Big Sense of Humour
It’s not just emotional and hard-hitting issues Emmerdale tackles, but they often give us a great dollop of humour in its storylines. They might not all be rib-tickling but Emmerdale has enough brilliant comedy performers that there’s bound to be at least one villager that raises a laugh. Whether it’s the physical comedy, the one-liners or innuendo, Emmerdale isn’t short on laughs and it’s a warm and familiar comfort returning to these fun characters night after night.
Family dynamics are a huge part of soap and Emmerdale’s use of family in the last year has helped to make its stories unbeatable. Soap families are notorious sprawling and unconventional, but there’s been no shortage of warmth and love between its family units, even those units which are forged through ties of friendship and loyalty rather than blood. We’ve had the BnB squad in Diane, Doug and Eric; we’ve seen the Thomas family facing a hard year, but the extended family brought humour and fun to Ashley’s bleak storyline; we’ve seen Aaron cement his new family with a wedding to Robert and a house for them and Liv; Tracy bonding with her birth father Frank and new-found sister in Vanessa, but her bond with Eric has been touching to see grow; The Dingles were severed last year with Zak’s betrayal but with Lisa taking him back and Debbie’s return, Faith’s arrival they’re as big and brash as ever. The Emmerdale families are so full of loveable relationships and surprising bonds that it makes deciding which family you’d join – if you could – an impossible choice!
This scene of the week choice is a little cheat because Chas and Faith’s kitchen outpourings lasted a few scenes, but they were truly stand-out moments in the week and one of the many reasons I’ll miss Chas and Lucy Pargeter now that she’s on maternity leave. Fractured familial relationships and mothers abandoning their children are a soap staple but still this confrontation between Chas and Faith managed to feel fresh and compelling. It was a complex situation fought out between these two headstrong women and while we might have some sympathies with Faith (perhaps more so now we know why she’s eager to repair her relationships) Chas’s pain at the abandonment, being left with a drunk and violent father and its impact on her own experience as a mother, was still raw. The writing and acting in these tough scenes made Chas and Faith’s relationship feel real and complicated and human – soap at its best.
Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A hugely emotional and fantastic week in Emmerdale as Aaron and Robert married and were tragically torn apart just a day later.
The Wedding of the Year
You can read exactly why I loved the Robron wedding here, but how could anything else top the week? The episodes were filled with love, warmth, humour, emotion and were a worthy celebration of one of the biggest and most-talked about romances to hit the Dales. For two characters with such a turbulent past, they were never going to have a typical wedding but the payoff was completely worth it to see them at their peak of love and happiness – even if it did only last a day! It was special, romantic and intimate and really got to the heart of both men and the reasons why their love story is so cherished by fans and their relationship is so successful. Here’s hoping Emmerdale keep them together for as long as possible – and that when Aaron gets out of prison they can sign on the dotted line and make this Mr Dingle and Mr Sugden thing properly official.
While I’m always going to advocate giving Aaron Dingle some happier times in his life, it’s easy to see why the writers put Aaron through hell so frequently when it makes such good TV! Just a day after getting married, Aaron and Robert were cruelly torn apart and Aaron was sentenced to 12 months inside. To go from the romantic joy of the wedding to the agonising scene of their goodbye was pure torture but so superbly acted by Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley that you could almost forget you weren’t living through this tragic separation too. (Who’d think we’d ever be crying over a bottle of shower gel and an exchange of names? Not me!) Once inside Aaron faced the difficult decision to hide his sexuality in scenes which were particularly painful to watch knowing how far Aaron had come in his own life in terms of acceptance. The prison scenes are already an uncomfortable and claustrophobic viewing experience so I can only imagine how much worse it will get, and when paired with Robert and Liv’s misery – it’s really hard hitting on the emotions.
The Thomas Family
It feels like I write about how good the Thomas family are every week, but I just can’t help it. With Ashley now living in a care home (and what heart-wrenching scenes those were at the end of the week), the Thomas family are adjusting to live without Ashley at home. This week it was hard for Laurel coping on the anniversary of Daniel’s death and the realisation that Ashley wouldn’t remember. After confiding in carer Will there was an awkward mix-up for Laurel as she panicked he was interested in her after the mysterious Valentine’s Day flowers too. Once again it was the adorable Arthur who was behind the sweet surprise and I didn’t think I could find him any cuter until his confession to Sandy and their mission (on Sandy’s scooter) to get to the pub on time. Sandy too has a wicked sense of humour meaning the Thomas family are just so watchable at the moment.
Faith hasn’t entered Emmerdale quietly – she’s big, bold and abrasive and probably not to everyone’s cup of tea – but being thrown in at the deep end has had its advantages. Even though she’s already gone off screen to take Sarah to Prague for her treatment she’s made a lasting impression already. It’s really helped that Faith has made herself notorious – interacting with a huge range of characters and flirting with every man in her radius – rather than sticking to a small bubble of characters. She already feels fully integrated and we already have a good sense as to who she is. It’s been a while since we’ve had a character as brash as her, perfectly able to get stuck into the drama and be believable as an awful mother to Cain and Chas, while still being entertaining with some great one liners.
Right in the middle of Tracy’s hilarious porn writing plot (loving that Pearl-inspired beret btw, Trace), and David’s amusing jealousy of the fictional Gustav, came an unexpected plot twist. David found a lump in his testicles – and quickly the smiles faded as they realised his cancer might have returned. It was a real shock emerging from this frothy comedy plot and one which took me by surprise. Not only did this bring another quiet and nuanced performance from Matthew Wolfenden as David tried to keep calm, but as Jacob suffered with what seems to be some sort of anxiety, it left me looking forward to seeing more of Joe-Warren Plant as hopefully his storyline progresses to new territory.
Dragging Her Down
Perhaps my biggest shock this week was that I was in agreement with Jai Sharma as he quite rightly assessed that Rakesh just drags Priya down. Couldn’t have put it better. Priya can be fun, feisty and is a smart and gorgeous woman so what the hell is she doing still wasting her time with a lowlife like Rakesh. Really though, what does she see in him? Secret liaisons and office desk hook-ups are soap bread and butter and illicit flings are one of my favourite things to watch, but even when they’re trying to be sexy like this week, they just don’t really cut it. To make matters worse, it’s frustrating that Priya has forgiven him so easily for the events of the summer. Why reunite them when their relationship does Priya no favours (and yes, I’ve given up all hope on Rakesh ever being engaging). Priya deserves better and so do we. Or at least a decent storyline (and partner) for her.
In one of the most hotly anticipated soap weddings ever, Aaron Dingle and Robert Sugden finally tied the knot and in true unconventional Robron style. Despite their first ceremony being interrupted by the police, their special day was a romantic success – even with Aaron’s sentencing looming – so here’s a look at just some of the reasons why the Robron wedding was a treat.
References to the past
Having been at the love game for well over two years, Robert and Aaron have a colourful history and the wedding episodes had some great references to their memorable past. Not only were these fun references to spot (and if you’re a hardcore shipper you’d be hard pressed not to get a kick out of lines such as “dirty little grease monkey”), but for two characters who’ve been on this rocky journey for a long time it felt fitting to have call backs to their significant moments – such as their familiarity with kidnapping and car boots! It was never going to be a conventional wedding for Robron so the garage setting, marking one particular milestone of their passionate affair, seemed so very right for them.
Fitting for the characters
One of the most successful aspects to the Robron wedding was its unexpected and unconventional moments. It’s taken Aaron and Robert a long time to vocalise their feelings for each other, so having them perform their own marriage ceremony alone was a heartfelt and intimate moment one that could never be bettered by a formal or traditional ceremony. Ultimately the legality of it seemed meaningless because the commitment and sincerity of their vows shone through – even in the dimly lit garage setting! There’s never been a soap wedding in a car garage before but there’s no question that Robron managed to pull it off in their own special way. Their beautifully written vows highlighted the couple’s complicated issues and troubled past and there’s no question that this wedding was perfectly in keeping with their characters.
Now that he’s stopped trying to cover his tracks in deadly plots, Robert Sugden has firmly established himself as a swoonworthy romantic hero. No complaints here. But what’s been a lovely and surprising development is Aaron’s growth as an out and happy (ish – well, it is Aaron) gay man. With his history of self-hate it was hard to imagine him ever being comfortable in a relationship, but with Robert, Aaron has found true contentment and the wedding was a heartwarming showcase of this growth. Not only did we see some serious heart-eyes and giddiness from him, we even saw him kiss, flirt and DANCE in public. When you grow up with soap characters it’s always satisfying to watch them come full circle, particularly with someone like Aaron whose had such a tragic life.
Like other great soap weddings, the Robron wedding wasn’t without its own drama but the main focus of the event and the episodes was the men’s love for each other and quite rightly, was just about the two of them. That being said, it wouldn’t be the Aaron and Robert we know and love without a twinge of tragedy. The final scene of the episode saw Aaron open up and find comfort in his new husband’s arms, both heartbroken that their happiness was soon to be taken from them. That poignant moment was bittersweet and made their earlier happiness even more significant. And what’s a wedding without a good cry, eh?
I couldn’t write a list about the best bits of the Robron wedding without mentioning actors Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley. We’ve seen Aaron and Robert deal with a whole spectrum of emotions and feelings towards each other from love to hate and everything in between but their chemistry skyrocketed this week as Aaron and Robert fully committed to each other. We’ve known for years that they nailed the passion of the affair and fraught moments of high drama but in the quiet intimacy of the wedding we saw the actors at their very best.
The Dingle décor
It was a given that any wedding involving the Dingle family was going to cause chaos and even with Robert showing a touch of the Groomzilla, no one really listened to his request to keep the decorations looking simple. It wasn’t long before the Woolie looked like every season and holiday had vomited all over the bar and Robron were forced to walk up the aisle with snowmen, doves and grim reapers watching. And yet, while looking ridiculous and fun, the outrageousness kinda worked! It was great too having the little character touches – like Sam misunderstanding the request to bring empty jars and bringing full, pickle jars instead.
With every great soap wedding comes disaster and for Robron, first of all it was the struggle of keeping Aaron away from the secret wedding. Initially it was Paddy, the naysayer who definitely did not want his surrogate son marrying “Mr Shifty”, but after a slight change of heart it was him and Adam (the self-titled “wedding champions”) who let Aaron loose. Oops. Cain happily stepped up to the plate and readily locked Aaron in the boot of his car. As Cain does best. But even with all that out the way, it was Granny Faith who caused the biggest issue when the police rocked up, leaving the ceremony in tatters after the brilliantly camp and soapy moment when she was accused of murder.
The gathering of family
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I love when events get the villagers gathered together or plots interlock and crossover. Well what’s better than a wedding for that? Not only did we have the Dingles and what’s left of the Sugdens (come back Andy!) and co together in one room, meaning a mish-mash of personalities and storylines, we also had the other plot lines running alongside the wedding, like Sarah’s illness, Kyle’s custody and Chas and Paddy’s ill-fated attempts at romance. It was great fun to see all those big characters in one room and in fun celebration scenes.
Despite tears being shed, there were plenty of laughs to be had at the wedding too. From Cain’s kidnapping, Faith’s theatrics, to the guests’ dance moves – there was a lot of fun to be had. Perhaps the best part of all had to be the Dingles ambushing poor Robert with their infamous welly of ale. As soon as the marriage was announced Zak stepped up with the boot to make Robert a proper part of the family, with the chants forcing him to drink from the welly. No crazy Emmerdale wedding would feel the same without some sort of weird tradition – only the Dingles could get away with it!
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 Dingle mania this week as Cain and Chas’s mum rocked up in the village.
Thomas Family Heartbreak
If there’s one word to sum up the Thomas family story this week it would be this: crushing. Each week Ashley’s heartbreaking dementia storyline is featured, you think performances and the writing cannot possibly be bettered and yet it goes one further every week. The ensemble nature of the story means there are a range of emotions and reactions carrying the plot forward and fleshing it out with a devastating believability. From the whole family’s stilted conversation the night before Ashley was due to move into the care home, where Arthur’s agonised sobs that Ashley shouldn’t leave as he’d done nothing wrong were painful, to the moving sing-song, to Doug and Diane’s private despair – everything was pitched with the perfect tone. It’s a difficult watch and one that resonates so deeply with families watching. Laurel’s bravery and strained enthusiasm to keep going features endlessly superb performances from Charlotte Bellamy so much so, her portrayal feels less like a character and more like a real woman with every episode. Everyone is excellent in this storyline, and Laurel as the glue trying to hold everyone together, makes you ache watching – especially ending the week on that awful moment where she cried alone in bed after one of the worst days of her life.
Hair piled up high, sunglasses, cracking one-liners and a perchant for gin – okay, I think I’m gonna like Faith Dingle. Forget the drawn out way she was introduced this week (see below), I think Faith’s going to be exactly what the Dingles need for a bit of a shake-up. (I was already dying with laughter at her brutal assessment of Zak “only just buried your last wife and you’re digging up the next one”.) Chas and Cain already share great sibling scenes together so any more of this seems like a good thing, particularly considering they both have underlying issues with their mother – and that’ll be interesting to address. Not since Val have we had an older more outrageous woman in the village causing a stir and if she continues to be a pal for Diane and flirt with Eric, she might help to ease this Val-less pain.
The BnB Squad
Since Val’s death and Finn’s leaving of his job, we haven’t seen so much of the BnB even though Diane and Doug are working there too now. This week though really showed us what a dream team Diane, Doug and Eric could be. The honesty box subplot last week was just a little taster of this comedic magic and this week showed us more of their strange little relationship. Eric is a stickler for rules (breakfast isn’t allowed in the bar and definitely not at 3pm!), Doug is stuck in his ways and that grates on Eric and Diane is relaxed and loves a laugh. I loved their pettiness, like arguing over who’s cleaning the toilet as Doug hilariously mimed Eric’s encounter with Eric’s “girlfriend”, Faith – reminding me of squabbling school kids and I seriously hope we see more of them like this.
Scams and Schemes
I’m always in two minds when it comes to Charity’s dress up schemes. Sometimes they’re a good laugh and you’re able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the comedy and other times they fall a bit flat. Her diamond plot with Frank this week was on the fence. There were enjoyable elements to her scamming in the week – her and Frank work surprisingly well together and have a good deal of chemistry; Charity vs Chrissie seemed like a well-matched rivalry in terms of their verbal sparring; and the wealthy businessman + his henchman lover was a fun twist. But perhaps this dressing up, bonkers plan stuff is a bit much after the bank job the other week and the aggro between Charity and Debbie or Charity and the rest of the Dingles just feels like re-treading old ground.
You can see from above that I’m quite a fan of Faith already and the different dynamic she will add to the show but the road to finding out who she was seemed to drag on needlessly over four episodes. When a newbie arrives speculation is rife as to who they are, but Faith’s identity was just a bit too obvious from the get-go (especially when her arrival was teased almost a year ago), meaning there was little suspense in the reveal. It didn’t make a great deal of sense as to why she camped out so long in the barn, nor why Sarah latched onto her so fast and Sarah’s secretive and bad behaviour to keep her a secret was tedious to watch but now Faith’s been thrown into the family fold we should get some great scenes.
Even though a lot of us Emmerdale viewers had figured out who the mysterious Lady in the Barn was, the reveal of her being none other than Faith Dingle was a great scene. Coming face to face with her unimpressed children, Chas and Cain, it was less surprise and delight more loathing and annoyance. You could hear the derision dripping from Chas’s mouth as she said “Hello Mother” and Cain’s response, that they’d met once or twice, brilliantly set up the nature of their familial relationship. Awkwardness, tension, conflict and fantastic dialogue – this has set the pace for what will hopefully be a fun (and maybe nightmarish) addition to the Dingle fold. Bring it on!
Chas: We’re like that film, aren’t we…what’s it called?
Charity: Beauty and the Beast?
Paddy: Shut your face, you. Don’t be horrible.
Marlon: In the Line of Fire?
Sam: Brokeback Mountain! ‘I wish I could quit you!’