Emmerdale’s super soap week has climaxed with the death of James Barton following a multi-car pile-up.
Tearjerking scenes just broadcast on ITV saw James flatline in hospital after being pushed from a 30-foot-high road bridge by deranged wife Emma.
But, at this stage in the drama, James’s sons – Ross, Pete, Finn and Adam – have no idea that their mum is responsible for the death of their dad.
Tonight’s instalment saw James rushed into surgery with pressure on the brain, a punctured lung and a fractured spine, only for doctors to fail to save him in the closing seconds of the episode.
At one point, Emma – fearing that her crime would be exposed should James awaken – even toyed with killing her husband by squeezing the tube containing his air supply. But, in the end, it appeared that his injuries were just too severe for him to survive.
Speaking about his exit from Emmerdale, actor Bill Ward said: “I was delighted with the story. What I particularly liked was that it came from the characters. It wasn’t just down to a stunt that got dreamt up. I loved the writing.”
On his three years in the Dales, the star added: “It’s been an awful lot of fun. Particularly massive thanks to all of the extended Barton Family, who have been, and still are, quite fantastic.”
Emmerdale had hinted that up to three characters would be dying tonight and, for a while, it did look as though Aaron Dingle and Rhona Goskirk would also be killed off. However, both characters earned an 11th hour reprieve.
Asked about whether he considered having more casualties, producer Iain MacLeod said: “Being in my position, the temptation is to get the metaphorical scattergun out and take down as many as you can. So yes, it did occur to us. But, you know, sometimes you have to rein in your crazier excesses.
“Bill Ward was the victim of a very good story. It was so compelling and we thought we just have to tell that story. It was too good not to tell. And it felt that – in James’s case – we’d earned the exit.”
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.