The Emmerdale 40th Anniversary Press Event took place last year on the most perfect of Indian Summer afternoons in teepee-style tents on the hill overlooking the village. A year later and things couldn’t have been more different …
As our coach arrived on a cold, windy, dark and drizzly Thursday afternoon I’d expected to see those same tents – all cosy and welcoming, and smiling waiters on hand to escort us inside to partake of a lovely warming cuppa, but there was nothing except a big empty space.
We continued down the road to encounter an extremely unexpected scene: a creepy silence, the village draped with ‘Do Not Cross’ tape and the place crawling with policemen and women who hurried us urgently from the coach to the relative security of the village hall.
Surreal? Oh yes, and before we’d even finished our tea and biscuits a copper ran in and told us to get out fast and follow his officers – as the hall was ‘no longer safe’.
Part of the Action!
A police helicopter roared overhead and police sirens wailed as we were immediately split up into groups and hurried urgently into various locations throughout the village (I was in the B&B), where we found chairs and a TV screen had been set up for us. A policewoman stood guard on the door (one of the crew; the lovely – and very convincing (!) @RachBoggon), the television came on and we were treated to a screening of this Wednesday’s hour-long seige episode.
During the first ‘ad’ break we were brought an emergency pack (containing assorted plasters and bandages, a bottle of water and a packet of biscuits) by another policeman; in the second, we saw a ‘live’ local TV news report from the village (with an ‘on the spot’ interview with Bob), and at the start of the third break there was a sudden pounding on the door.
The policewoman opened it gingerly and one of the cast pushed past her, desperate to know if we’d seen her partner (who was one of those holed-up inside the pub). Once she’d realised that her partner wasn’t with us she attempted to leave. The policewoman tried to stop her, but she ran back out into the street and the door was slammed firmly shut behind her for our safety.
An Hour of Tingling Tension
I’d wondered what on earth they could possibly come up with which would top last year’s flawless live episode, but – believe me – they’ve managed it. The hairs on the back of my neck were on end the whole way through, and there wasn’t one person on that screen who you didn’t actually believe was as scared as they were supposed to be.
Cameron’s minute-by-minute loss of control (and his grip on reality) is the most convincing performance I’ve ever seen from a ‘Soap Baddie’, and you couldn’t take your eyes off Debbie and Chas for a moment either as the drama unfolded.
There was an actual gasp from us all (well, mostly me, but I do tend to get a bit involved!) after the second gunshot rang out and we saw what had happened, and I was left totally desperate as the end credits rolled because it’s poised on such a knife-edge that I simply cannot WAIT to see what happens next!
As is now usual with Emmerdale these days, interspersed between scenes of totally gripping drama you’ll see the most exquisite comedy moments/one-liners (and you know how I love my one-liners!), and this episode will have you both on the edge of your seat with tension and then suddenly laughing out loud. It’s a testament to the wonderful writing, acting and professionalism of all involved that is giving Emmerdale its ever-increasing success in the ratings.
Once the policewoman assured us that we were safe we were asked to leave the safe house and congregate outside the Woolie where the cast then emerged to rapturous applause from us all.
I walked back down to the village hall with Cameron and asked him if his weight loss over the last few months had been deliberate (as I doubt that anyone in ‘real life’ who was going through even half of what he’s been up to would barely have been able to eat or sleep!).
He said that it was more to ensure that he’d be able to sustain the level of fitness required to cope with such a demanding role, but that it certainly added to the whole demeanour of a character in that situation. Deliberate or not; to me, it just added to Cameron’s credibility as a man whose life had turned from heaven to a living hell. The thing with Cameron too, is that you can’t help but like him and feel a bit sorry for him. Everything he did, he did for what he felt (at the time) was the right reason, and all for love.
Men can be made fools for love. This is a classic case. Cameron didn’t intend for this all to happen. It was like a house of cards: once one started to fall the whole lot came tumbling down, and what you’ll see in the next couple of weeks is a man who simply runs out of options and – in desperation – goes down a path that he could never even have envisaged in his worst nightmare.
A lot of people who wouldn’t normally watch a Soap will ghoulishly tune in for a live episode in the hope of seeing it all fall apart. Emmerdale set a standard last year that I can’t see ever being bettered (TOTALLY on location, don’t forget), and all I can do is to urge you to tell everyone you know to get themselves in front of their screens this week (and beyond) as you won’t see finer acting/drama anywhere on your TV screen to better this.
And Breathe …
After our dramatic afternoon, we returned to the village hall to attend a press conference and then conduct interviews with cast members before being given a very welcome drink and a meal (we thought it was going to be fish and chips wrapped in ‘yesterday’s newspaper’ but it was tasty chicken and chips etc – wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper!). I had a good chat to my ‘mates’ Rishi and Dan and we got back onto the coach to leave the village at about 7.30.
Many of the group were booked in to a local hotel, but I’d been in Leeds since Tuesday and was staying at a place in town so decided against going for a drink and got dropped off at my hotel, where I did a bit of work, got everything ready for my very early start the following morning and then went to bed. Tomorrow was another day … *
As you’ll know if you’ve read my ‘Emmerdale-y’ Soapy Corners: I don’t do spoilers. I simply give you my observations of the week gone by, so if you’re looking for in-depth cast interviews etc, then there’s many great Soap sites on the internet whose journalists were there with me and who’ll be writing or broadcasting about it throughout the week.
Tellyspy (who I was representing on the day) have got all the gossip and lots more on the actual interviews etc if you’d like to read more of the nitty-gritty stuff. Just click here.
The Emmerdale team once again gave us a fabulous day out. They always go ‘above and beyond’ in order to make it a real experience for us and I – for one – am extremely grateful and have got some great memories of it all. What’s coming next though? Well; whatever it is, you know it’s going to be good, as this Soap just carries on getting better and better.
‘Emmerdale-y’ will be returning very soon. Watch this space!
* Click on Corrie Corner (right) to read about my Corrie day in Blackpool