Emmerdale is dominated by the fallout of an accidental disaster at the factory that claimed the life of an innocent local, and how those responsible are covering their tracks by blaming it on someone else.
Yes, we did say Emmerdale, but the above plot summary could just as easily describe Coronation Street’s recent Underworld roof sabotage saga. However coincidental it is that both ITV soaps have aired factory-on-fire stunt set pieces within a few months of each other, the similarities between the storylines are mounting up the more we see of the fallout of the Sharma and Sharma shenanigans that killed off Frank Clayton.
There’s a distinct feeling of déjà vu in how recent events in the fictional communities on either side of the Pennines unfolded. Let’s compare, shall we?
Monetary motivation for the carnage was mirrored in both instances: skint Corrie redhead Gary needed to pay off a debt (and also fancied a flash pad of his own as he was fed up with sleeping on a lilo at the Platts’).
Meanwhile, skint Emmerdale redhead Amy needed to pay off a debt due to an incident with a loan, that took place off screen and which we knew nothing about. Have these people never heard of financial advisors?
A simple plan
Needing to make a quick buck, gormless Gaz deliberately sabotaged the roof of the local factory, hoping boss Carla would realise it needed fixing and book him in for a handsomely-paid repair job. No more lilo!
Meanwhile, tiger mum Kerry spied a safe full of readies in the local factory and thought she’d found the answer to her daughter’s debt. What could possibly go wrong?
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Gary’s roof wrangling caused the ceiling to cave in while employees staged a weekend sit-in (it should’ve been empty) which severed electric cables, leading to the whole place eventually crumbling.
In Emmerdale, Kerry and Amy sneaked back to the evacuated factory to destroy CCTV footage of their robbery but the exposed electrics sparked an inferno leading to – guess what? – the whole place eventually crumbling.
Major jeopardy ensues as characters not meant to be at the scene find themselves trapped (Tracy in the Sharma and Sharma store room, the entire Underworld workforce on the shop floor) but manage to get to safety thanks to the bravery and quick-thinking of others.
Wrong place, wrong time
Both disasters claimed accidental casualties who were only in the flaming factory to fetch items they’d forgotten for heartbreakingly romantic reasons: Frank popped back to retrieve the engagement ring he’d bought for Megan, and Rana was collecting her handbag en route to marrying Kate. Death by jewellery and accessories – talk about unlucky.
The aftermath of Frank and Rana’s untimely demises gave their grieving loved ones huge, barnstorming emotional scenes. You’ve got to hand it to Emmerdale’s Amy Walsh (Tracy) and Michelle Hardwick (Vanessa), and Corrie’s Faye Brookes (Kate) and Charlie de Melo (Imran): they milked every inch of the tragic exits and had viewers weeping at the injustice of it all. “If only they hadn’t found themselves in an unstable structure that was about to explode!” being the general gist of most post-death scenes.
Pin it on a dodgy dead dude in a leather jacket
Our unwitting arsonists needed a way to avert suspicion falling in their direction, so what did they do? Set up someone who can’t defend themselves. Gary figured out he could kill two birds with one stone – or rather one very large rock – by whacking loan shark Rick over the head and burying him in the woods (an usual repayment plan, it must be said) then convincing the cops it was the suddenly-missing Mr Neelan who tampered with the Underworld roof to ruin Gary’s reputation. Clever.
Similarly, calculating Kerry is now claiming reformed con man Frank only got fried because he’d gone to rob the factory safe, tarnishing his memory. That’s how you get out of a tight spot…
Insurance claim calamity
Yes, there has to be an investigation and paperwork must be done, but delving into dull insurance claim admin (Rishi, Jai and Manpreet endlessly discussing payouts) and bringing in officious loss adjusters (weird Wayne Hayes) risks losing the audience’s interest – is anyone really gripped waiting for the correct forms to be filled in, or to find out if the premiums go up as a result of the incident?
Both businesses employ half the cast, who are forced to spend a suspicious amount of time in either the Woolpack or the Rovers moaning about not getting paid since their place of work is a burnt-out shell – but are still able to afford a round of drinks. Is the factory reopening? Are their jobs safe? Is the same scene being repeated for weeks on end?
Being responsible for a death takes its toll – Gary has gone the full Michael Corleone and embraced the dark side since taking over Rick’s corrupt pay day loan operation, but it’s just a way to mask his guilt over Rana, while Kerry is a gibbering tearful wreck whenever she and Amy are behind closed doors as the horrific consequences of their actions hits them. Expect all guilty parties to either be forced to kill again to cover their tracks or confess all when their time comes to leave the show. Whichever occurs first.
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