The sacking of Emmerdale actor Asan N’Jie, following an altercation with Hollyoaks star Jamie Lomas at an awards ceremony, means his character Ellis Chapman will have to make a hasty exit from the village in the coming weeks, but the exact details of how he will be written out are yet to be confirmed.
Obviously show bosses had no prior warning of N’Jie’s departure as his contract was terminated with immediate effect by ITV on 11th September following reports of the fight.
Soaps are written and filmed months in advance and usually have plenty of notice to plan how a character leaves, but with this being somewhat exceptional circumstances producers are probably frantically working out how to explain Ellis’s sudden absence. Since arriving almost a year ago it felt like there were big plans for the character’s future, all of which will likely now be scrapped.
But how does the axing impact on current storylines already in motion? And how might Emmerdale get around it?
Relationship with estranged dad, Al Chapman
Much fanfare greeted the recent casting of Harry Potter star Michael Wildman as Ellis’s errant dad, Al Chapman. Developing the fractious father/son bond was meant to be a long-term arc as the suave businessman attempted to build bridges with his offspring, who he forgot about while he went to work overseas. N’Jie and Wildman established a solid dynamic on screen, having already worked together on Steven Spielberg blockbuster Ready Player One pre-Emmerdale. Is Al’s place in the plots now at risk seeing as he was brought in to flesh out Ellis’s character?
Mum Jessie Dingle’s departure
As well as making amends with his son, Al’s arrival has also seen him pursue his ex, and Ellis’s mum, Jessie. Jeopardising her marriage to Marlon Dingle with a kiss for old times’ sake eventually leads to the schoolteacher’s departure, following Sandra Marvin’s decision to quit. It’s not clear if her exit has already been filmed with Ellis present, but even if it has Emmerdale may choose to disregard scenes N’Jie has already shot and redo them without him. And with his brother and mother gone, Billy Fletcher will quickly have to find new people to interact with – the siblings’ volatile bond was the big focus during the family’s first six months.
New romance with Belle Dingle
A burgeoning affair between Ellis and Zak’s youngest was in the offing according to teasers from next week’s episodes – on Friday 20th September Belle is all of a flutter when Ellis asks her on a date. Sadly it’s all over before it’s even begun for Belle, so could the soap hastily ditch the start of what feels like a sweet new pairing and quickly concoct a new plot to be inserted into the episodes at the last minute?
Panic attacks following stabbing
Getting stabbed when he was caught in the crossfire of ex-con Billy’s gangster vendettas was by far the biggest storyline Ellis had, and his recovery saw him develop PTSD and be gripped by debilitating panic attacks. It got so bad he became a virtual recluse at one point and barely left the house, and even knocked out stepdad Marlon with a rolling pin when he thought an intruder had broken in. Was there a slow-burn male mental health story in the works going forward?
There is a way all the above could still occur as envisioned – by recasting the role. When actors have been forced to bow out under something of a cloud, soaps have been known to replace them and carry on as normal. N’Jie has only been in the show under a year, so if Emmerdale want to continue the character’s journey, might it be with a different face?
Visit our dedicatedEmmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.