The late, lamented Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick) has made a surprise appearance from beyond the grave in Christmas Day’s Emmerdale.
As fans of the ITV soap will remember, Val lost her life in a macabre accident in a hall of mirrors over summer 2015. But the character made an unexpected return in a surreal episode that depicted Robert Sugden’s nightmares as he lay unconscious in a hospital bed.
In a break from Emmerdale’s usual format, the first half of the hour-long special saw Robert experience a nightmarish Groundhog Day meets Christmas Carol scenario as he fought for his life in intensive care after being hit by a car driven by Lawrence White.
Val’s comeback came when the character was seen attending a funeral that Robert believed to be on-off partner Aaron’s. But after Val pushed him into an open grave and pulled open the lid the coffin, Robert saw that it was actually his own body lying inside.
Speaking about the experience, Charlie Hardwick said: “It was a very stylised episode – it wasn’t done as a natural event. Initially, I thought it would be a straightforward ghost. But it was a real visitation – just like Scrooge had. I was the ghost of Christmas future and essentially showed Robert the mirror. Look at yourself and look at look at what your potential is and you have the opportunity to change it.
On the topic of her return, the actress added: “It felt odd as I’d been away for so long, but it looked completely different to a normal episode. It was highly stylised and completely theatrical. Val was dressed as a Hollywood siren and everybody else in stark black outfits with hats. It looked more like a painting or a Technicolor film rather than an episode of Emmerdale.”
Once Robert had been revived in the real world, the rest of the drama played out in traditional style, but there was heartbreak in store for #Robron fans by the close of the episode. After realising that they caused each other nothing but harm, Robert and Aaron decided not to reconcile, crushing viewers’ hopes that they’d get back together.
Speaking about the future of #Robron (as the pairing of Robert and Aaron has come to be known), actor Ryan Hawley said:
“There’s a way for Robert and Aaron to go before any kind of reconciliation. It’s going to be quite nice for me and Danny to have these scenes to play out – there’s a lot for them to sort out. The longer it can play out, the more suspense you have.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of Christmas and New Year on Emmerdale below
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.