Unreality TV meets Emmerdale cast and crew and experiences a day in the life of 3rd Assistant Director, James Shaw!



Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Emmerdale studios to see first-hand how an episode is made, right through from the writing stage to the finished article…

And each of us journo types attending the day were given a mentor, who showed us how his/her job works, and let us not only shadow them, but also to do some part of their job!

I was mentored by the very lovely James Shaw, who is the show’s 3rd Assistant Director, and for the purposes of the day, we media folks were split into two teams to write and produce a short scene…

I was on Team Dave, which was headed up by gorgeous star Matthew Wolfenden – who of course plays David Metcalfe – and supported by the equally gorgeous Natalie Anderson and Fiona Wade, who play the roles of Alicia Gallagher and Priya Sharma respectively.

priya, david, alicia, EMMERDALE_09

So, ushered off into a side room just off the Woolpack’s living room set, the creative juices started flowing and a storyline was formed…

At that point, I went off with James as he did what he does within the studios, and learned that his main responsibility is providing – and organizing – “background”, that is, extras and supporting actors.

In addition, complete with Madonna-esque headsets, we listened to the gallery, ready to respond to their every whim while simultaneously collecting and distributing the scripts and making sure the actors had whatever they needed. This included peppermint tea, bog standard tea and red wine. I won’t spill on which of the three Team Dave stars wanted the wine only a spit after lunchtime… but it was Matthew 😉

natalie anderson, matthew wolfenden

But I can throw no stones from my glass house for, by then, I’d had a few wines and beers myself and was more than happy running about after the ever-patient James!

However, at one point, James and I lost contact – mission control wasn’t informed – so the fabulous Tony Audenshaw, who of course plays Bob Hope, took me under his wing and held doors open for me while I precariously balanced hot drinks. He also helped me locate the cast members and led me through the warren that is the studio.

While all of this was going on, I kept up a constant stream of “Oooo!” as various Emmerdale stars wandered past, leaving me star struck, and while taking in the surroundings of the Woolpack set…

emmerdale woolpack set

And one of the first things that struck me about the set of the famous pub is that it’s actually quite small! It looks a good deal bigger on-screen, but as we all enjoyed a break for lunch, I was busy stealing an Ephraim Monk coaster and checking out the Woolie’s menu…

woolpack menu emmerdale 2woolpack menu emmerdale

But it was soon back to business and the most important bit; the filming…

I, guided by James, yelled “Quiet please! Rehearsing!” a few times and watched enraptured as the magic unfolded. Because it does actually feel rather magical to be honest, being there with the action going on in real-time while simultaneously watching it on monitors was really quite surreal, but such good fun.

And I have to say, Matthew, Natalie and Fiona were incredibly good sports and managed to turn a hastily penned spoof into actual credible scene, and to boot, they were faultlessly good humoured, kind, generous and funny!

The day ended with a viewing of both of the scenes we’d created – the other team’s actors for the day were Mark Charnock, Charlotte Bellamy and Lucy Pargeter – and a judge-off headed up by Michelle Hardwick, who plays vet Vanessa Woodfield, the show’s creative director John Whiston, and producer Kate Oates…

michelle hardwick, kate oates, john whiston, emmerdale

And yay! Team Dave, my team, won, for which we were given fabulous awards. Mine is currently pride of place in my living room, and woe betides anyone who tries to move it…

emmerdale winning team trophy

In addition to all that, I spoke with various members of the cast including Natalie J Robb, Charley Webb and Dominic Power, and in the coming week, I’ll be filling you in on what they had to say, so call back regularly for updates!

And finally, a huge thank you to everyone at Emmerdale for an absolutely brilliant day and for a look behind the curtain. It was fascinating!


Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.