Paula Tilbrook has been talking about the scenes in this week’s episodes of Emmerdale that see her character Betty Eagleton discover that Alan Turner has passed away.
Alan, played by Richard Thorp up until the actor’s death in May, will be die peacefully in his sleep at Keeper’s Cottage after returning to the village following a trip abroad.
“He’s been to France on his Harley and ended up in the Lake District. Betty wonders if it’s a good idea if they make him a welcome home tea party and everyone agrees,” says Tilbrook. “So they all go to Marlon’s and make this tea, which is quite funny in itself because we mess Marlon’s kitchen up. And when Betty asks where Alan is, Victoria says that he came in at two in the morning and so won’t be getting up early.”
But by mid-afternoon, Alan hasn’t surfaced and Betty starts to get suspicious: “She realises that he’s going to be late for his own party, so she goes upstairs and realises that he’s not asleep. She then comes downstairs in shock and she doesn’t want to tell Victoria, just in case she’s wrong.”
So what does Betty then do about the situation? “She shoos Victoria off and phones Edna immediately. She’s right over and she’s goes up to see for herself. Shirley Stelfox and I enjoyed doing the scene together. They’re already close although they are quite sharp with one another, but the veil comes down once you’ve lost somebody. We do actually embrace each other, which we’ve never done before.”
It’s a poignant moment and one that honours Thorp’s length of service to the ITV soap – so is Tilbrook pleased that the character is being given a send off? “Yes, I think we’re all delighted about that. Nearly 30 years is a lifetime to be in a show and Alan’s gone through so many changes from owning the big house to lodging with Betty. The journeys he’s been on are incredible. So we’re delighted – we don’t just want him to disappear. We want to, as we would in real life, mark the passing of a gentleman.”