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17 Emmerdale 2022 spoilers: Meena's end, Jamie truth and anniversary plans

2022 is set to be Emmerdale’s biggest year yet. As the soap celebrates 50 years on our screen, there is trouble on the way for plenty of characters in the lead up to the anniversary month.

With new character Marcus (Darcy Grey) on the way, possible returnees and the conclusion of Meena’s (Paige Sandhu) storyline, there is plenty of drama on the way.

To tease fans with what’s ahead this year, and other press sat down for a chat with Executive Producer Jane Hudson and Producer Laura Shaw where they revealed a lot of gossip.

What’s next for Meena?

Jane Hudson: ‘Judgement Day for Meena is coming. Whether she will get away with murder or not, you’ll have to wait to find out. There are still some more twists and turns to be had and some you won’t see coming but I think we’re all agreed that Meena can do pretty much anything. Judgement day is coming; it won’t play out quite as you expect, and it will have a lasting effect on quite a few of our villagers. I think within the next few months Meena will get what’s coming to her.’

Away from Meena, who else will face challenges this year?

Laura Shaw: ‘There’s a difficult road ahead for Jai and Laurel. Jai’s desperation to sort out his money woes steps up a gear and he’ll go to extreme lengths to cover the money he owes for the HOP fine – so will his relationship with Laurel be jeopardised? We know how Jai can struggle when he’s on the back foot and not winning at life – so will this send him spiralling back to his old ways and will we see a darker Jai emerge from all this?

Laura Shaw: ‘Meanwhile Leyla has a big storyline coming up in 2022. We’ve seen her be a huge support to Liam through the loss of his daughter Leanna but is all as it seems? Is Leyla really coping as well as she seems to on the surface or is there a bit more going on there that we’ll uncover?

‘Vanessa is back – hooray! Obviously, that is going to set the cat amongst the pigeons for Mack and Charity. Will we see Charity and Vanessa back together in 2022, or will we see Vanessa head off in a new direction maybe? I think it’s going to be time for people to decide whether they are team Vanity or team…Mackity. Charity is also going to be affected by some heartbreaking news involving Ryan that is going to see some huge emotional scenes play out between mother and son and this is going to have some influence over Charity’s relationship.

Laura Shaw: ‘Up at Home Farm we know that Jamie Tate is actually still alive so obviously that info is still to come out – and what will Kim do once she knows? We know what a tough cookie Kim is but we also know that Jamie is her Achilles heel so we can expect huge fireworks if she ever finds out how much he has betrayed her.

‘Lots going on for the Dingles as we head into 2022. Two of our most loved Dingles are going to be facing huge life-changing situations that are going to have repercussions for the whole village and the effects of this are going to be long-lasting over the course of 2022 and into 2023. In the next few months, we’ll see drama, joy, fun, laughter, agony, pain, grief and despair hit this family. They will pulled into a lot of directions and be at the heart of our very biggest stories this year.’

How would you describe the next 12 months on Emmerdale?

Jane Hudson: ‘As you probably know it’s our 50th birthday coming up in October. We’re going to be having a golden month of celebration to mark our 50th. There are going to be mind blowing stunts, more heartbreaks, secrets and lies are revealed, it’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving and the party no one wants to end. Our 2022 is very much going to be building our stories for the 50th golden month of celebrations. We need to make this the biggest year we’ve ever had.

‘We’ve already got some great stuff planned – maybe a wedding in the Summer! Some really big things that’ll test couples’ strength and as parents, a lot in store. We might see some old faces returning, we’re not sure yet. I think there is a lot coming up – the focus is really to celebrate Emmerdale turning 50.’

Does Covid hang over like a dark cloud?

Jane Hudson: ‘For everybody, Covid has been a challenge, all the soaps have been amazing. We talk to each other a lot and share our ideas; I’ll watch EastEnders and think “how did they do that?!”. We’ve come up with clever ways to do things, but we want to try and keep it as normal looking as we can. It is difficult, we’re working at two metre distance, we have systems in place, but safety for cast and crew is first in our mind. If it’s not safe to do something, we won’t do it. I think the fact we managed to pull off super soap week is an example of what we can achieve under restrictions. That would’ve been difficult anytime! I think we’re getting more and more used to working with it and embracing it, rather than it being the big problem like it was at the beginning.’

Last year, soaps collaborated for COP26, anymore plans to do this again?

Jane Hudson: ‘That idea should’ve been on screen before Covid! I think it was a brilliant thing for the soaps to unite and we’re continuing our work on climate issues as we go forward. I think to do something like that again, so quickly, will stop it becoming extraordinary. We have to be careful but never say never. Our focus at the minute is definitely on the 50th.’

Is climate and the environment still high on the agenda?

Jane Hudson: Definitely. We discuss green issues and climate change issues, we’ve got our allotment which will continue to be a feature in our show, I’m pretty sure it won’t just be about veg! I’m sure something sinister will happen in that allotment soon enough. Or an affair will happen in the greenhouse, or maybe the shed because the greenhouse is glass and that would be a really bad place to have an affair!

‘We’ve got David’s shop moving to an electric bike to do his deliveries. You’ll start to see clothes recycling centres around, people using their bags for life and their coffee cups. We’ve also made huge changes behind the cameras for how we function as a programme, looking at our carbon footprint and changes we can make in the way we work. It’s absolutely key in our minds.

‘We even have the Emmerdale green team, which is a group of us who meet once a month to discuss what we can do. I wish we had green capes to wear when we have those meetings, but we don’t! It’s really important for us, as it should be for everybody.’

Emmerdale is known for interesting storytelling/episodes, such as non-linear elements. Are there any more interesting episodes coming up that you can talk about?

Laura Shaw: ‘Yes. We’re never ones to shy away from stepping outside of our comfort zone and usual storytelling style. I can definitely tell you that we do have a very special episode coming up, which we’re about to start shooting quite soon actually.

‘This episode is going to spark off one of our biggest stories for this year, but in a different way. It’s something we’ve not done before, and it’ll enable the audience to see the story from a whole different perspective to usual. I don’t think I can say much more than that without giving it away.

‘I can also confirm that we do have one of our big special weeks planned for later in the year, which will contain the culmination of some of our biggest stories as well as the start of other big stories. And fingers crossed, COVID permitting, hopefully we’ll throw one of our infamous stunts in there as well.

‘We’ve got big plans and, as Jane has already touched on, we’re determined that we’ll keep our audience on their toes for the whole of 2022. Obviously we want October to be epic and it absolutely will be, but we won’t be resting on our laurels until then. Some of what we’ve got planned for the first half of this year will undoubtedly go down in Emmerdale history as some of our finest moments.’

Jane Hudson: ‘I think we can probably tease in our special week that Cain and Al’s feud is definitely not over, as we will see in that special week and something will happen that will make those two have to look at their relationship with each other. So there’s definitely going to be an explosive Cain/Al moment in our special week. I think the audience are really enjoying these two men constantly at war.’

What does the future hold for the Woolpack?

Laura Shaw: ‘I think we’re going to see a lot more pushing and things might get a little bit worse for Chas and Paddy before they get better. From the ashes of Christmas Day, we’re going to see a shiny new Woolpack emerge this year and the fight for who’s going to control it will definitely be on. Who’s going to be victoriously holding their keys at the end of it though? Who’s going to have their name over the door? You’re going to have to watch to find out.’

Can you tell us about any births, deaths of marriages?

Laura Shaw: ‘Well it wouldn’t be a normal soap year I don’t think, without a few births, deaths and marriages, would it? Jane’s already touched on one wedding that might happen in the Summer.

‘Other than that, we’ve already seen Billy and Dawn get engaged on screen and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by telling you that their wedding is definitely going to happen this year. It does happen on the most romantic day of the year which is Valentine’s Day, so not too long to wait for their wedding. But will it all go to plan? Is it going to be happy-ever-after for these two or will disaster strike? I suspect it’s probably going to be the latter.

‘We’ve also got another wedding coming up, a third one. That’s a bit more of an unexpected twist and I think that’s going to shock quite a few of our villagers and ruffle a few feathers.’

Jane Hudson: ‘There will be a new baby arriving in Emmerdale before the end of the year, but I think we’ve got enough female characters in the show to not be giving anything away. That’s all I’ll say, there will be a new arrival before the year is out.’

Tell us a bit more about Marcus and Rhona’s storyline…

Jane Hudson: ‘When we meet Marcus we don’t know who he is and then we find out he’s Pierce’s son. Pierce has written to Rhona asking to find his son who she didn’t know about. Pierce has no contact with him since he was young because he was abusive to Marcus’ mum. And then this young man tips up on Rhona’s doorstep and Rhona makes the wrong decision to not tell Marlon about it. Vanessa’s not very happy that he’s there. We will have to wait and see whether Marcus is a chip off the old block or whether he’s the polar opposite of Pierce.

‘I will say that he is going to be involved with one of our villagers – so watch this space as a new romance blossoms.’

Jane Hudson: ‘There will also be someone else new in Rhona’s life appearing, but I’m definitely not telling you that one!’

And what’s next for Moira?

Laura Shaw: ‘I don’t think Moira fans need to worry at all, we’ve got plenty coming up for Moira this year. She’s going to be the person to lean on for more than one of her family members. We’re going to see her be given one of the biggest decisions of her life when she’s asked to keep a huge secret and she’s going to struggle massively with that. On another side of the fence, we’re also going to see something Moira thought was in her past and that she’d dealt with, come back to haunt her in quite a big way. The ramifications of that are going to affect quite a few people. And again, we’re going to see her really tested to how she deals with that difficult situation.’

Away from all the drama, will we see some more light-hearted scenes?

Laura Shaw: ‘Of course. One of the things I think makes Emmerdale so great is our ability to combine really hard-hitting, gritty drama with lighter, more comedic storylines. As we head towards the 50th we’re going to be showcasing lots of that and reminding our audience exactly why they love our show. We’ve got some fun stuff coming up in the Salon where we’ll see a new and unexpected member of staff joining the team there. We’ve got more from Cain and Liam who are one of my favourite relationships in the show at the moment. I could watch them all day long. When you’ve got brilliant comedy actors – Marlon and Paddy, Jimmy, Nicola and Bernice – the laughter is never going to be far behind, is it?’

Will we see more of the younger cast throughout 2022?

Jane Hudson: ‘I think it’s really important for the show that we have stories aimed at everybody. What makes soaps different from a lot of dramas is our reach – our reach is teens right up to 90 plus. We’ve got a lot of viewers to keep happy. And for our younger characters – it’s not just that our younger viewers can relate, it’s something for their parents and grandparents’ point of view. We do sometimes have time in conference when we’re talking about characters who are 16 now and in our heads, we’re still thinking of them as 12. This year the likes of Noah, Amelia, Samson, Archie, Cathy and Sarah – you’re going to be seeing them much more prominent in the stories because they deal with stories that affect their generation and we see how they handle things. It’s really important that we keep our youngsters coming through because they are our next generation.’

When did you start thinking about the 50th?

Jane Hudson: ‘Probably after the 40th. We’ve been thinking about the 50th all the time. I think we probably held back some of our big ideas while covid was so prominent in our lives because we didn’t know what we could achieve. But Super Soap Week has really shown us what we can do. And as brilliant as stunts are – we’ve got to have the stories to back up those stunts. We can blow up anything but if there’s no story behind it – what’s the point?  

‘Our focus at the moment is to really build those stories so when we get to our Golden Month of Celebration, we’ve got secrets that the viewers are desperate to be revealed, there’s probably going to be a birth in there perhaps – babies in soaps are either born on programme celebrations or Christmas so there’s going to be one of those happening, and we’ll do something epic – there will be an epic stunt because we’re well-known for that. But at the heart of it, the best loved characters in our show are really going to be tested in some big emotional stories. It’s really key to us that whatever happens in the 50th – the fallout is huge. This will continue and take us into 2023.’

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