Emmerdale: why Finn Barton had to die – show boss reveals all

Producer Iain MacLeod has been planning Finn's surprise death for months


Emmerdale has delivered another shock twist tonight with the surprise death of Finn Barton.


With Joe Gill having left the show after four years in the role, the exit was deliberately kept out of the public domain so as to preserve the secrecy surrounding this week’s epic action which has already seen Moira Dingle give birth without her – or the audience – realising she was even pregnant, Emma Barton confessing to murder, a showdown in a blazing barn, and Emma snatching Moira’s newborn baby from the hospital and going on the run.

Finn’s fate was under threat from Tuesday’s episode when it was revealed he’d been mistakenly shot by his own mother after Emma grabbed a gun and fled into the woods having delivered Moira’s baby. Pursued by vengeful Adam Barton who blamed Emma for putting his mother’s life in danger, the nutty nurse pulled the trigger by accident but didn’t realise she’d shot her own son who’d come to find her, only to lay wounded and alone in the woods until getting to safety the next morning.

Unfortunately doctors couldn’t save Finn and he was declared dead in tonight’s episode, but the character’s death has been planned since the start of the year according to Emmerdale’s producer, Iain MacLeod.


“Joe told me he wanted to leave back in February when his current contract ended in October. Gillian Kearney, who plays Emma, was also talking about leaving at the same time and we knew we had a big ‘super soap’ week coming in the autumn so that crystallised things for us right there – we had to plan an exit for Finn, whose mother is a murderer and who was also being written out…

“It’s always sad to lose characters but it’s great to be able to plan big exits far in advance and on a grand scale such as this.”

So it seemed inevitable that Finn would meet his maker, but MacLeod explains Emmerdale’s story team thinks long and hard about killing characters off. “Death is very story-led, and people live or die depending on what stories the writers pitch at conference. I hope Finn’s exit will be a big surprise to the audience. With the flash-forwards of Emma at the start of each episode this week we’re teasing things might not end well for her, but Finn’s death provides a bigger shock no one saw coming which makes it impactful.

“You can get quite trigger-happy when someone asks to leave, but I’m keen not to get too gung-ho and have lots of death because it starts to lose its currency. If too many characters die you don’t have ample time to explore the truthful aftermath of the grief for those left behind.”


Despite being the orchestrator of his demise, MacLeod is full of praise for Gill, who has made Finn a charming, quirky presence on the show these last four years and built up a cult following among viewers who will no doubt be distraught after tonight’s emotional episode.

“Joe’s been a fantastic part of the show and has made Finn a really unique character, executed with real subtlety and humour,” he says. “He’s a hugely skilful and intelligent actor. It’s a sad day he’s leaving us and I think most of the audience will shed a tear when they say fictional Joe die, but we’re all really sad to see him go from the cast.”

Finn’s death is by no means the end of Emmerdale’s dramatic week, as tonight’s episode ended with Emma seemingly on the brink of suicide – will there be double death for the Barton family by Friday?

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.