The life of Val Pollard is going to be left on the line next week when she ignores some health concerns and ends up unconscious in hospital.
Val – who was diagnosed HIV positive last year – will be found passed out on the floor of the B&B after collapsing from a coughing fit. But her nearest and dearest, including husband Eric, will be left preparing for the worst when her condition deteriorates.
“Val is is intensive care, so she’s really not very well,” says actress Charlie Hardwick. “The doctors have a conversation with Pollard about resuscitation, which he just won’t engage with. We really see how much Eric loves Val – there are scenes of great tenderness and Chris Chittell plays it so well.”
The emotive plotline will also see the return of actor Matthew Bose as Val’s son Paul, who’ll be back for a short stint to be by the bedside of his son-screen mum. “He comes to the hospital and there is a concern because they don’t send for people from overseas unless there’s a good reason. But personally, for me, it was so nice to see Matthew Bose. He hasn’t aged a bit.”
And for Hardwick, it was also gratifying to see Emmerdale revisiting the HIV storyline 12 months on from Val’s original diagnosis. “People can manage HIV now, but it is very important that we go back and explore how serious it is. Val has been thinking that she’s invincible and she’s let her monitoring slide. It has to be monitored more carefully than that.”
As for the impact of Val’s story on the viewing public, Hardwick says that the feedback she has received has been largely supportive. “It has genuinely raised awareness. Soap operas can do that so well. Only recently, a woman at a Tube station in London stopped me to say, ‘we’ve persuaded to go and get my auntie checked now because of the storyline’. And I know that a lot of clinics have reported back to say that the footfall has gone up. I’m really chuffed that it’s had that effect.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, gossip and interviews.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news