Event Report: Emmerdale: Anatomy of a Hit

Event Report: Emmerdale: Anatomy of a Hit

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L-R Maxine Alderton, Nader Mabadi, Eva Lake

Yorkshire Centre celebrated its homegrown soap, Emmerdale, with a day of masterclasses and talks at Leeds College of Music in early March.

Emmerdale has been a mainstay of TV production in the Yorkshire region for more than 40 years. It has just had one of its most successful years, winning a raft of awards and having several episodes and storylines singled out for critical acclaim.

A panel of Emmerdale’s finest talked about ITV’s ratings-grabbing “super soap week”, which also involved Coronation Street, last October. The week of extraordinary episodes saw Emmerdale film its biggest stunt and use non-linear story-to dramatise a huge car crash from multiple points of view.

Series producer Iain MacLeod explained how important it was that the stunt had both an emotional and visual impact on the Emmerdale audience. Writer Maxine Alderton talked about the genesis of the story and how important it was to make sure it provided ongoing character stories for the weeks and months that followed.

Director Duncan Foster discussed the technical challenges, including filming in a submerged car on the Pinewood underwater stage. Head of design Gillian Slight talked about how the Emmerdale design team met the demands of the scripts, including refurbishing a stretch of race track at Longcross Studios to look like a busy road, building a footbridge and ensuring road markings looked suitably faded.

Nader Mabadi, who scheduled and budgeted the super soap week, which attracted audiences of more than 7 million every night, paid tribute to the whole Emmerdale team and how they pulled together to make the episodes.

Earlier in the day RTS Yorkshire held an afternoon of craft workshops for 270 students and recent graduates.

Jess Taylor, Sue Preston and Mary Gallagher from Emmerdale’s make-up and costume department shared their tricks of the trade. The story and writing workshop took the attendees from story conference to production scheduling with the help of story editor Eva Lake, Alderton and Mabadi.

Scott McPherson caused the college’s cleaners some consternation with a demonstration of sugar glass in the props and design workshop. Students were also able to get their hands on cameras and sound equipment in the workshop run by Matt Rook and Tim Wybrow.