Like all UK soap’s, ITV’s continuing drama was forced to suspend production in mid-March shortly before the country went into lockdown due to the spread of coronavirus.
Two months later it was the first to announce a phased return to filming, with six new episodes acknowledging the pandemic and impact of isolation among the locals, shot with pared-down cast and crew within strict new health and safety government guidelines.
Here’s your guide to TV soap’s first attempt to tackle the new normal…
When are Emmerdale’s lockdown episodes on and who is in them?
On Monday 8th June at 7pm, Emmerdale addresses the COVID-19 outbreak for the first time, featuring Sam and Lydia Dingle in a special two-hander. Sam’s son Samson is stuck on a school trip, and it emerges the newly-weds have thrown Mandy and Vinny Dingle out (they will appear in a later episode).
Tension mounts between the normally happy couple, as Sam snaps at Lydia when she plans to leave the house to collect a supermarket shopping order – later that night, the real reason for his over-protectiveness is revealed, but can the pair make amends as anxiety gets the better of them?
“It was a privilege to be part of these episodes as it feels really momentous,” shares Karen Black, aka Lydia. “It’s like a piece of TV history so I am thrilled to be involved.
“In this one episode we get to find out so much more about Lydia and Sam, it’s a great insight. Sam has been a character for 25 years, yet within this half hour he still divulges something we would not have known about him previously…”
The second episode airs on Wednesday 10th June at 7pm, as we visit Cain Dingle and nephew Aaron Dingle. A letter arrives with a prison stamp on it, and knowing it’s from Aaron’s estranged husband Robert Sugden, behind bars for killing sister Victoria’s rapist Lee Posner, Cain hides it to avoid any upset.
Aaron eventually discovers Cain’s misguided intervention leading to a huge row that exposes some home truths between the relatives. Cain apologises and opens up about the collapse of his marriage to wife Moira, while Aaron reads the letter from Robert – but what does it say?
“Cain ears Aaron will overthink things and go down a rabbit hole if he sees the letter,” explains Jeff Hordley, who plays Cain. “He’s scared his nephew will react badly he decides, for better or for worse, to hide it. The dynamic between the two men is great because they have a lot of similarities. They are both Dingles, Cain has a lot of time and love for Aaron.”
“I’m glad Emmerdale took two characters who don’t like opening up about their feelings to address how it easy it can be when the burden is lifted by having a conversation with one another,” adds Danny Miller, aka Aaron. “I felt honoured Jeff and I were trusted with telling this story.”
Who will be in the rest of the episodes and when are they on?
Emmerdale continues with two lockdown episodes per week, showing on Mondays and Wednesdays, for the next two weeks, with six showing in all over a three-week period. You’ll notice the soap has cut the third Friday instalment but this is only temporary, and ensures the show will remain on air uninterrupted.
New episodes now filming will be completed in time to air the week of 29th June, at which point Emmerdale goes back to a thrice-weekly schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the foreseeable future.
So over the next few weeks, with a running order still to be finalised, the remaining four episodes will feature the following characters:
- Beautician Mandy Dingle and adopted son Vinny Dingle
- Jimmy King and nagging wife Nicola King
- Pub landlady Chas Dingle and partner Paddy Kirk
- Chef Marlon Dingle, stepson Ellis Chapman and his estranged dad Al Chapman.