Emmerdale has revealed Frank Clayton as the unlucky villager to lose their life in the Sharma factory fire on Thursday 1st August, with actor Michael Praed’s final heartbreaking scenes airing at the climax of an explosive double bill.
Speculation was rife among fans as to who would perish in the blaze, much hyped by the soap in recent weeks as their big summer stunt, and early signs were not good for Tracy Metcalfe (Amy Walsh) who was trapped in the store room of the burning building which had earlier been evacuated (ironically due to a faked fire alarm) where she had arranged to meet lover Billy Fletcher (Jay Kontzle).
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The fire itself was completely accidental, caused by the sabotage of CCTV equipment by Kerry Wyatt (Laura Norton) and daughter Amy Wyatt (Natalie Ann Jamieson) to cover up their theft from the factory safe – the reason they set off the alarm. A spark from the damaged electrics set the place alight after the ladies left, and they’re now wracked with guilt as no one else knows how the incident started.
Ex-Sharma employee Frank dashed back to his locker to retrieve the engagement ring as he was secretly planning to propose to girlfriend Megan Macey (Gaynor Faye) and was faced with the flames and heard daughter Tracy’s cries for help.
Bravely knocking down the storeroom door and getting her out to safety, he headed back into the inferno to find the ring he’d dropped – when he finally emerged outside to the crowd of locals who had gathered along with the emergency services, the relief at seeing he had survived was cut short as the factory exploded in a ball of fire, sending Frank flying.
With Tracy and other daughter Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) plus Megan at his side, Frank was declared dead by paramedics at the scene as guilty Amy and Kerry tried to hide their utter horror… Will their involvement in the tragedy be discovered?
How long was Frank Clayton in Emmerdale?
Ducker and diver Frank was introduced in 2016 as the jailbird long-lost dad of racy Tracy and Vanessa the vet, who had no idea they were sisters despite having been neighbours for years – it was Hardwick and Walsh’s suggestion to producers that their characters end up being related as the pair are best friends off-screen and had often discussed their similarity in appearance and mannerisms.
The crafty Clayton provided light relief as a silver-haired, silver-tongued gentleman thief and con artist with a glint in his eye. He became embroiled in numerous scams and schemes but desperately tried to stay on the straight and narrow for lover Megan, whose on/off romance formed the bulk of his screen time.
Praed is fondly remembered as Robin of Sherwood, ITV’s fantasy-tinged 1980s take on Robin Hood, which shot him to global fame and earned him the role of Prince Michael of Moldavia in US super soap Dynasty who was the centre of the show’s most iconic storyline – the Moldavian massacre at his character’s wedding to Amanda Carrington in 1985.
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