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BAFTA's Emmerdale blind spot

Paul Clarke blasts the academy for snubbing the Yorkshire soap

Written by . Published on May 3rd 2011.


BAFTA's Emmerdale blind spot

FOR those of us raised on the gentle rural ways of Annie Sugden and the sideburns of Amos Brearly, Emmerdale’s lurch to become the Dynasty of the Dales was a shock - but a very welcome one.

But it seems the media elite in London town - aka BAFTA - don’t agree. The academy has snubbed this hugely popular soap by not nominating it in the Continuing Drama category.

Now, I wouldn’t argue that Saturday night faithful Casualty and the mighty Corrie shouldn’t be on the list. But the terminally depressing Eastenders and - adding insult to injury - Waterloo Road?

This year has seen Emmerdale hit a rich streak of form with strong storylines backed by actors rising to the challenge week in, week out. Viewers have been entranced by Aaron’s battle with his sexuality and how he tries to cope with having a paraplegic boyfriend.

One of the great mysteries of TV land is why anyone watches Eastenders - with its plastic gangsters and a community without washing machines - and its an even bigger mystery they actually win awards for this crap.

Secretly, I actually like Waterloo Road as it's a sort of demented low rent Beverly Hills 90125, which features a surprisingly strong performance from Britain’s Got Talent hoofer George Sampson as a local ASBO thug. But a programme that pretends Tina O’Brien is a teenager is hardly Bafta material.

Back in the Dales there are scenery chewing turns from Kelly Windsor and bad acting from Marlon, but there are also surprisingly subtle performances in the midst of the melodrama. In the past, John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy, as wet local vicar Ashley and his wife Lauren, have beautifully played out the agony of a cot death is a small community.

Emmerdale2.jpg

Kelvin Fletcher as Andy Sugden has battled his own inner demons with performances that match the majesty of his pecs. Of course, the younger members of the cast are there as eye candy, but from time to time they really produce the goods.

This year has seen Emmerdale hit a rich streak of form with strong storylines backed by actors rising to the challenge week in, week out. Viewers have been entranced by Aaron’s battle with his sexuality and how he tries to cope with having a paraplegic boyfriend.

Despite some patchy performances, the Barton family’s struggle to deal with their junkie daughter was a brave storyline. The Marlon/Paddy/Rhona love triangle, as she agonised over whether to abort a foetus that might have with Down’s Syndrome powerfully addressed an issue all parents face.

Even comedy family The Dingles have had their troubles, after Lisa’s horrifying rape by a co-worker - a scenario sensitively handled and very well acted.

So this snub to a sometimes crazy - but always entertaining - Yorkshire soap can only be put down to southern snobbery. Instead, Emmerdale’s cast and crew will have to satisfy themselves for this year with a job well done.

BAFTA, meanwhile, will probably be hoping for an other Bianca and Ricky special.

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