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Emmerdale at 40: the challenges of the live show
Emmerdale's live episode involves the weddings of Katie and Declan and Chas and Dan
To mark Emmerdale's 40th birthday, some journalists - including yours truly - were invited to spend a day with the cast and crew.
And boy, do these people know how to throw a party; of course it helps when you've got the beautiful Yorkshire Dales as your backdrop. What could be better than that?
How about a performance by Edna's Hat, the soap's band featuring Sian 'Gennie' Reese-Williams, Tom 'Carl King' Lister and Dominic 'Paddy Kirk' Brunt? Hearing Tony 'Bob Hope' Audenshaw launch into a version of Sweet Home Alabama (renamed Sweet Home Emmerdale with a sample lyric proclaiming: 'It's better than The One Show!') will take some beating.
But we weren't there simply for a jolly; the entire day was focused around Emmerdale's 40th birthday and the live episode - airing Wednesday 17 October.
Unlike Coronation Street or EastEnders' live episodes, Emmerdale faces a challenge that cannot be controlled: the weather. Emmerdale Live will be filmed on location in the village, rather than in the studios eight miles away.
"An hour, one October evening in a field on a hill in Yorkshire - what could possibly go wrong? As our director will tell you, I think it will pretty much shoot itself," joked series producer Stuart Blackburn.
It's going to be a massive undertaking, requiring 61 cast members, 350 supporting artists and 70 crew members. As director Tony Prescott points out, the sheer amount of planning required to pull off a live episode - 110 hours have been put aside for rehearsals - means there simply isn't time to create an indoor contingency plan in case of bad weather.
Stuart Blackburn said: "From The Cradles To The Grave will do exactly what it says on the tin. There will be two births and two weddings; Chas and Dan and Katie and Declan, with a little bit of class war thrown in there for good measure."
Emmerdale's 40th: who will die?
Understandably, some of the actors at the centre of the live episode are beginning to get a little nervous.
"I'm starting to have anxiety dreams about it already, where everything goes wrong," Lucy Pargeter, who plays Chas, said. "But if it does, we've given it a go, and we're all in it together. Some people will be watching it to see if we go wrong anyway, so at least we'll have entertained a few people!"
Sian Reese-Williams, better known to soap fans as mum-to-be Gennie, is looking forward to it:
"I really wanted to be part of the live episode because I miss being on stage a lot, and I thought that maybe I'd have one line and be thankful for it, but I'm pleased that we've got a big chunk to do, and a nice one too - Gennie and Nikhil are like the light relief to the drama," she says.
But as the episode's title suggests, it's not going to be all new arrivals in the live episode. One character will be meeting an untimely end, although the producers are keeping tight-lipped about who it might be.
Executive producer John Whiston did drop one hint: "All I want to say about this particular death is that the writers felt that the character had it coming from the soap gods."
Sammy Winward, the village's other on-screen bride, said: "This is once in a lifetime."
Finger crossed that nobody in Emmerdale fluffs their lines live on TV (unlike EastEnders' Scott Maslen who has never lived it down) and let's hope it's a beautiful October day.
Emmerdale's live episode airs Wednesday 17 October at 7pm on ITV1
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