Emmerdale may be a long way from the old Farm days, but at least he enjoys it

A woman never reveals her age, so let me tell you I can’t hear her Emmerdale (ITV) credits without imagining Annie Sugden in her pinny. The plane crash that wiped out half the village in 1993 may have been great TV, but so was the double act of Amos Brearly and Mr Wilks as they fidgeted around the Woolpack.

Over the years, Emmerdale has transformed from a study of rural life to a patinated soap. It is now played on a replica of the set which is a bit more box of chocolates than the original location (Esholt, a real village). The wealthiest residents of modern day Emmerdale accurately represent “stylish Yorkshire,” a demographic where people living within a 20-mile radius of Harrogate drive the gleaming Range Rover Sports and spend a lot of time doing spa treatments.

I haven’t watched it regularly in years – how is it possible to keep up with so many episodes a week? – but it remains one of ITV’s most reliable hits, comfortably beating miserable old EastEnders with audiences of over four million.

Time to check in, then, for the 50th anniversary episode. It featured those two basic points of soap: a marriage and an accident. They both involved Kim Tate. Uff! Someone I recognize, along with a smattering of Dingles and Eric Pollard. Kim is definitely elegant from Yorkshire. As portrayed (beautifully) by Claire King, she is a ruthless cow. Every soap needs one of these; she is Emmerdale’s answer to Joan Collins in Dynasty.

Anyway, Kim showed up to church on horseback to marry a former drug dealer – look how times have changed – in a wedding that went smoothly. Where would the drama come from? A giant wind machine, that’s where, that the manufacturers turned on to replicate the stormy conditions. Pregnant teenager Amelia (Daisy Campbell) chose this weird weather event to take a walk, then she went into labor, prompting the locals to organize a search. Will offered to ride in his brilliant 4×4, but that would make all too much sense. Instead, Kim set off on her horse.

Score a quad bike accident involving Kim’s love rival and an explosion, and Kim’s horse (deserving of an Equity card) fleeing the scene because Kim hadn’t thought of tying him to anything even though the production team he had activated the sound effects of the thunder at this point. Yes, it’s over the top and very different from the days this show used to be called Emmerdale Farm – now it has a tone closer to Australian soap operas – but it’s fun. The show reinvented itself with confidence and just enough to go back to Emmerdale’s past to feel comfortingly familiar.

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