Emmerdale At 40: Emma Atkins (Charity Dingle) was terrified of live episode, Tom Lister (Carl King) is thrilled with exit storyline and Rik Makarem (Nikhil Sharma) reveals last nights mistakes and improvisations!

by Anna Howell

Last night saw the amazing Emmerdale Live hour-long episode, which boasted two wedding, two births and a murder, whilst managing to maintain comedy levels to an all-time high throughout as well.

We all watched with utter amazement at what is already been classed as the best ever live soap episode, beating the likes of its two biggest rivals, Coronation Street and EastEnders who have both attempted similar live broadcasts to mark their own shows anniversaries. According to overnight figures, a peak audience of 9.2m tuned in for the show, the highest-rated episode of the soap to date, with viewing figures reaching their high in the last 15 minutes which saw Carl King (Tom Lister) meet his maker at the hands of Cameron Murray (Dominic Power).

As the show was broadcast completely live it did mean that a make shift set had to be recreated near the famous village which, in reality, is several miles away from their usual studio. This meant that not only did the cast have to get used to new surroundings inside, but that a fair majority of the action, including the murder, took place outside, against the harsh autumn elements in the heart of Leeds.

From the start it was very clear to see that what we were being invited to watch was by no means amateur, and those vultures who tuned in only to gloat when a mistake was made would have been bitterly disappointed.

Emmerdale Cast and Crew preparing for last night’s live episode

However, the cast and crew would have been robots if everything had gone completely to plan, but the great thing about last night, and those who took part, was that even things you may have thought were mistakes, or actors ad-libbing, were presented so seamlessly you could never be 100% sure if it was a mistake or not.

Of course, we all saw, and felt utterly devastated for poor Betty (Paula Tilbrook) when she messed up her only line right at the beginning, but apart from that the only other questionable moment for us was when Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher) arrived at the hospital saying: “I got the message, what’s going on?” to Cain (Jeff Hordley) who replied: “well what did it say?” to which he replied: “that Debbie was in labour” causing Cain to answer with: “well, that”. If that was an ad-lib, it was genius as it had us falling off our seats with laughter!

However, Rik Makarem who plays Nikhil Sharma has revealed that there were a few more last minute, unscheduled changes than we thought.

Rik played a crucial part in last night’s live episode when his fiancée, Gennie (Sian Reese-Williams) gave birth to their daughter in the middle of Chas (Lucy Pargeter) and Dan’s (Liam Fox) wedding reception at the B&B.

The scene was incredibly moving but also very comical, with Gennie nearly pulling Nikhil’s nose off at one point and calling him a pig, but according to Rik, not all of it was scripted the way it played out, in particular the pig remark! Speaking on ITV2’s Emmerdale Live: The Fallout show after the live episode ended, Makarem commented:

“Throughout the show there were little differences – little things that people were bringing that weren’t there before. It added an extra spice to it. You weren’t quite sure if it was going to go right!”

When asked what is ahead for Nikhil and Gennie now that they are parents, the actor joked: “This birth should not have happened like this for a start! This is a military operation and it’s completely gone wrong, so I’m not happy about it. I think he’s going to put a regime in place and it’s going to be very interesting.”

Meanwhile, Sian Reese-Williams, who plays Gennie, admitted that she had sought advice for the labour scenes from some of her mummy co-stars, having never given birth in real life, and that she was advised to make sounds like a cow. Despite her nerves though, she said she was truly honoured to be such a big part in the show, commenting:

“I was really excited, genuinely just really excited. I’ve done lots of theatre and I was desperate to be in the live episode. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll probably get a line and that’ll be fine’. But when I heard I was [giving birth], I was over the moon.”

Another Emmerdale character who can understand Sian’s anxiety about giving birth live was her co-star Charley Webb. Whilst Charley, who plays Debbie Dingle in the soap and also gave birth last night to a baby boy she named Jack, has gone through the experience herself, she still admitted the pressure of the live show was pretty intense, commenting:

“It’s really difficult, because when you’re in it… the pressure really got to us. All I was thinking all the way through was, ‘I can’t do it’. Even when I was doing the dialogue, it was so hard.”

This motion was shared by her on-screen mum, Emma Atkins. Emma, who plays Charity Dingle, confessed that she was terrified of the live show, saying:

“I think the pressure is immense. I mean, we’ve loved it, but there’s so many emotions. You can’t imagine what it’s like. It’s unbelievable.

“Your head can go to, ‘There’s 10 million people watching this’, and it’s just a natural thing where the human brain can go. I think a couple of times it went there! That’s probably part of it, part of the thrill – but it’s bloody scary!”

Jeff Hordley, who plays Cain Dingle, commented: “We worked so hard and we’ve rehearsed it before. We had two fantastic runs yesterday and we did it again, so it was good.

“We all had a back-up [during the episode] – if you sense someone is gone you just come in with another one. You have to feed them the next cue. It couldn’t have gone better.”

Whilst Mark Charnock, who plays Marlon Dingle, added: “I think everybody was secretly terrified, we were outside for an hour and there was this energy, and when it started I just knew it would be all right.

“Charlotte [Bellamy, who plays Laurel] and I discussed if anything went wrong we’d ad lib our way out of it.”

Jeff went on to explain what is in store now following all the drama of last night: “We have filmed all the aftermath and where it goes from here is fantastic. I think with Carl’s phone left at the end and with Cameron and the cheating, it just keeps rolling on.”

It was clear to see during the Fallout show that the cast were really pleased with the episode, but their joy was tinted with sadness over the departure of Tom Lister during the live episode, when his character was brutally murdered by Cameron Murray (Dominic Power)

Carl’s attack on Chas which lead to the first brick blow to his head

Tom has played Carl King for nearly a decade, and whilst he was upset to find out he was leaving, admitted that he loved the storyline which saw his character killed off.

“It’s been such a massive part of my life, the best part of ten years really, so when I found out I was going I was surprised but at the same time I was as like ‘yeah, alright.” Tom admitted.

He added: “When I read the script for the first time to be honest I was thrilled, it just seemed a really nice way to end what has been an amazing journey for my character.

“There was always going to come a point when I was going to have face some reckoning for what I had done. And I just felt it was really nice way to tie all those ends up.”

“I just feel ultimately privileged and I’m going to miss everybody that I’ve worked with, cast and crew and all the production staff. I’m going to miss everybody but I’m ready for the next phase of my job and my career and the new challenges that brings.

“And I know wherever I go and whatever I do I will shout long and loud about Emmerdale. I’m immensely proud of this show and I’m proud I’ve been able to be part of it for so long, and just thankful for everything that’s happened.”

He added: “Thank you very much, thank you for watching my character and investing in it all these year and I’ll see you in the movies!”

Watch the consequences play out tonight on Emmerdale at 7pm and then again at 8pm on ITV1/ITV1 HD.