When it comes to spectacular soap stunts you can rely on Emmerdale – the show loves pulling out all the stops and blowing the budget on a catastrophic event that irrevocably changes village life, usually by killing off a couple of cast members and trashing parts of the set.
As flames sweep the Sharma sweet factory in a fire started accidentally by Kerry and Amy Wyatt that has devastating consequences for the community, here’s a reminder of the crashes, bangs and wallops the Yorkshire-set series has delivered over the decades…
Plane crash (1993)
Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of the Yorkshire-set serial, a game of word association that starts with ‘Emmerdale’ is usually followed by ‘plane’ and then ‘crash’. The disaster that saved the soap from being axed in the early 1990s was controversially timed on the fifth anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster, where a bomb exploded on a passenger jet in mid-air over a small Scottish rural community. The parallels of that real life tragedy with this iconic ambitious set piece made it headline news, and was a turning point for soaps edging towards the sensational.
Bus crash (2000)
A gang of locals were en route to Hotten in a mini-bus when a faulty Tate Haulage truck ploughed into it, crushing the passengers. A nation wept as lovable, but badly injured, Butch Dingle hung on in hospital long enough to marry girlfriend Emily Wylie on his deathbed a few days later before carking it.
Lightning strikes the Woolpack (2003)
A decade after the plane crash another tragic event befell the village when it was gripped by a freak storm on New Year’s Eve. The Woolpack chimney collapsed after being struck by lightning throwing rubble everywhere, burying poor Tricia Dingle, who later died in hospital, and trapping loads of locals beneath the remains of the boozer, ironically as they raised a glass to 2004. Happy New Year…
Show home fire (2006)
The Kings’ swanky new-build development was unveiled with a bang – quite literally when the show home went up in flames thanks to a gas explosion caused by a spark from a light switch. Half the cast were either inside or about to enter – why are people always in the wrong place at the wrong time when these dangerous events occur?
Woolpack flood (2013)
A dramatic week-long siege of the pub by serial killer Cameron Murray climaxed as hostages Chas, Debbie and Marlon escaped through the flooded cellar to eventual safety. Crazed Cameron was in hot pursuit, which got even hotter when a cable hit the water and electrocuted the gruesome gun man to death.
Helicopter crash (2015)
Possibly the most inventive of all Emmerdale’s stunts, this epic chain of events was kicked off by Chrissie blowing up cheating husband Robert’s car which sent fire debris into the air in the path of a helicopter, which then crashed into the village hall where Debbie and Pete’s wedding was taking place, the resulting ‘copter blast tearing into the fairground erected on the green and memorably trapping Val in a hall of mirrors where she was eventually stabbed by a falling shard of glass. This was all in one episode. Seriously.
Hotten bypass motorway pile-up (2016)
Keen to outdo themselves, a year later Emmerdale’s production department went for it once again and repeated the domino effect of the helicopter crash with this audacious, meticulously-planned road traffic accident. Loopy Emma threw husband James off a bridge onto the busy motorway below as several characters drove en route to their own storylines, everything converging in an ambitious, noisy and brilliantly orchestrated mess.
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