Grieving Eric Pollard is to be left feeling that he has nothing to live for in the wake of wife Val’s death, says Emmerdale star Chris Chittell.
“Val gave Eric a purpose in life for the first time ever. For her to be removed in such a cruel fashion is just heinous and unbearable,” says the actor. “I think he’s close to killing himself because he can’t see any redeeming features of his life. If he could croak tomorrow, he would.”
Next week’s episodes of the ITV soap will see Pollard struggling to cope in the run-up to Val’s funeral and lashing out at sister-in-law Diane after her attempts to help backfire.
“Diane comes round and thinks she’s doing Pollard a favour by tidying up. But she ends up washing a cup that had Val’s lipstick imprinted on it. Eric cherished that cup – he’d look at it and focus on his life with Val and what he had. So his reaction when Diane cleans it is, ‘how dare she?”
In the heat of the moment, Eric ends up banning Diane from the funeral, telling her that because she left Val to die on the fateful afternoon of the helicopter crash, then she has no right to be at the service.
“Diane is feeling the brunt of Eric’s anger and – in his eyes – deservedly so. She left Val in that mirror maze, which to him is unforgivable. Pollard wasn’t there at the time, but he has to vent his spleen somewhere and therefore it has to be Diane.”
On the day that Val died, Eric, Rodney and Doug had locked Val and Diane in the mirror maze as a way of getting them to sort out their differences, little suspecting that Val would be the dead by the end of the afternoon. So does Pollard need to face up to his own guilt and stop punishing Diane?
“If Eric did that, then it’d be the point of no return,” continues Chittell. “He will have to address that, but he just can’t at the moment. It’s everybody’s fault but his.”
So with fury and recrimination swirling, it seems that the stage is set for a very emotive send-off for Val. “He’s let Diane have free rein with planning the funeral. But when Pollard finds out that Diane left her sister to die, he doesn’t want anything more to do with her. He’s a very angry man indeed.
“But, in a way, it’s his anger that’s getting Eric through the day. If he didn’t have that, maybe he’d just float away.
“I feel that Eric has got a very long road ahead of him. There’s nobody who can take Valerie’s place and he certainly doesn’t envisage anyone ever being able to do so.”
For Chittell, the exit of co-star Charlie Hardwick was one he felt keenly (“we were a great team. Every now and again in this business, you find someone you just enjoy working with”), with the recent scene in which Val’s ‘ghost’ visited Eric proving to be one of their finest moments together.
“I thought that scene was genius. From the script and the direction to the costume and make-up – everything was spot on. On the Friday evening that Val’s ‘apparition’ appeared, Twitter went potty. I was answering tweets for two-and-a-half hours. Unbelievable! And it’s an example of what we at Emmerdale care about. It’s been going for 43 years and has given work to thousands of clever people and to be a part of it is a great honour.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
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