Tonight’s tear-jerking episode of Emmerdale saw the departure of a stalwart of the show, Andy Sugden (played by Kelvin Fletcher). He joined the cast at the tender age of 12 in 1996, and his final scenes aired tonight.
Speaking about his decision to leave, 32-year-old actor Kelvin Fletcher said, “It was a big decision to make and one that I thought long and hard about. As an actor you constantly have aspirations to play different roles.
“Throughout the years I’ve always been so happy and felt so challenged at Emmerdale that that decision never really came until probably the last 18 months. I guess it was really testament to Emmerdale that they gave me the confidence to want to pursue other things a try a different challenge.”
The episode began with fugitive Andy hiding out in a barn and brother Robert bringing him supplies. Later, Bernice noticed Robert taking Andy’s belongings and tracked them down to his hideout, where she said she wanted to go on the run with him.
In emotional scenes, Andy bid a heartfelt farewell to brother Robert. “My last scene with Ryan was really emotional,” Fletcher said. “Scheduling had done it quite nicely where my last scenes were actually my last scenes on screen. He’s someone I’ve only been working with for the last couple of years. He’s been playing my brother – but he feels like my brother as well. That was really tough. We were playing these emotional scenes where I’m saying I love him, he’s my brother and I’ll miss him, and it was genuine.”
Later in the episode, after Andy tells Bernice “It’s a big thing you’re doing here”, she bursts into tears when she finds pictures of the children in his bag and decides she can’t go through with it. We last see Andy getting into the cab of a lorry alone, heading off to live the life of an outlaw.
Of his exit story line, Fletcher said: “I was delighted with the way they wanted Andy to leave. It certainly ticked the surprise box. It was quite upsetting and I think it personified Andy as a character. His circumstances are not ideal. He means well, he’s innocent, he’s certainly got the sympathy vote. It’s just something, like many things, that has happened to Andy that he didn’t deserve but unfortunately life can be like that sometimes.
“I think throughout his life the audience have grown up knowing that of Andy, that he’s never quite got the rub of the green. He’s certainly tried and he’s a good person at heart.”
With Andy’s name yet to be cleared there may be an opportunity for him to return to the soap in the future. Fletcher adds: “There are a lot of people who say ‘I hope it’s not forever’. For me, it’s a character that I’ve grown to love and one I’ll never forget. If there’s a time in the future when that character might reappear as a man trying to prove his innocence, then who knows? For me this moment in time, as an actor, I want to try a different challenge.”
The future looks exciting for Fletcher, who is expecting a baby with wife Eliza and hoping to branch out into other acting genres. “I’ve been spoilt with Emmerdale over the years. I’ve had a taste of high drama, action, explosive scenes, emotional scenes and the odd bit of comedy with Bernice. For the next gig it would be good to concentrate on one genre wholeheartedly. For me it’s a chance to showcase how versatile I am. I’m excited for people to see me playing a different part in a different medium.”
As for life without Emmerdale, which has formed the backbone of his daily life for two decades, Kelvin says he will miss the people the most. “I’d be very surprised if there was a day in the week where I didn’t laugh at some point. Despite the scenes you’re doing it’s a very happy place to work. I felt an immense sense of fulfilment every day. It’s given me more than I could ever imagine so that will be the biggest void. I’ve got nothing but thanks and admiration for the show, and I’m immensely proud of it.”
Emmerdale returns on Wednesday at 7pm.
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.