Rachel Breckle will bid farewell to both Sam and the village next week when she exits for Liverpool.
“It’s heartbreaking,” admits Gemma Oaten, who is leaving the ITV soap for the second time. “On the last occasion, Rachel ran off. But this time, she does actually get to say goodbye to Sam.”
Rachel decides to depart after her physical abuse of Sam is witnessed by her sister Ali, who has returned for Ruby’s funeral.
“Ali sees Rachel unleashing her wrath and demands to know what’s going on. That’s the moment of truth and the truth comes spilling out.
“In the end, Ali says that if Rachel has any chance of redemption and of keeping her son, she needs to sort herself out and get away. So Ali suggests that Rachel move to Liverpool with her, which obviously throws Rachel sideways.
“She can’t believe this is even being uttered, but deep down Rachel knows that Ali is right.”
Oaten is remaining tight-lipped as to whether Rachel leaves with son Archie, but what’s bound to be emotional is Rachel’s parting from Sam.
The two characters have been put through the emotional wringer these past few months, with Sam having the bruises to prove it. And Oaten says that their shared screen time gave their final scenes together a real intensity.
“Hand on heart, it was one of the most truthful performances that we’ve both ever given. Leaving James Hooton is hard because he’s ace. But Rachel’s not been killed off, so the door is open.
“It was one of those filming days that did me in by the end of it, but I’ll never forget it. I love Emmerdale, but it was the right time and it was very fulfilling to get that moment with James to say goodbye.”
As for the future, Oaten says that she’s now moved back down to London and would like to take part in the next series of Strictly, despite not being the most able of dancers.
“I can’t dance to save my life,” she laughs. “But I’d love to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing. I know a lot of people are dying for me to do it. And I think they should pair me up with the Grimsby lad, Kevin Clifton. But whatever I do, I know I will miss everyone at Emmerdale with every bit of my heart. They’re friends for life.”
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, interviews and spoilers