As Chas and Paddy got into labour, the birth of baby Grace marks the beginning of the end of their daughter’s life. The baby was diagnosed with a rare condition which means her lungs haven’t formed and can’t survive.
After much deliberation, Chas and Paddy decided to keep the baby and give her the best life possible – however long that life may be. But as Grace is born, they realise the countdown to Grace’s death has begun.
As they share a tender moment talking about all the things Grace will miss out on in her life, Paddy starts to imagine a trip away with their daughter and Emmerdale takes us forward in time to see what Grace’s life would be like when she was one, four and 12 years old.
Chas and Paddy have been preparing for this for such a long time. How do they feel when she goes into labour?
Lucy: I think it’s a bit of excitement, because they’re going to meet Grace for the first time. But they also know that it’s not going to have a happy outcome, so its tainted. It’s a bit of blind panic, with a mixture of excitement and anticipation of what they’re both about to go through.
Dominic: Once they made the decision to have the baby, they decided to approach it in a positive manner. They say “Even if the child is alive for three seconds or 30 minutes, then that’s the child’s life.” So they’re going to try to make it so the child is surrounded by love. When Chas’s waters break, it becomes very real, and I think it frightens the life out of them.
The episode prominently features a clock, as the seconds tick away. Are Chas and Paddy aware of the limited time they have?
Lucy: Yes, they don’t know how long it will be. No one can say how long she’s going to live for – It could be seconds or it could be hours. So time is really of the essence. In the episode, Chas does a speech about all the things that she wanted to talk to Grace about and all the things that she wanted to teach her. But she just wants to be there to love her – to spend as much time loving her and smelling her and kissing her.
Dominic: They both look at her and realise that she’s a beautiful baby – she really is. They fall in love with her. Paddy is frightened of holding her at first. I think he’s worried, as he is a big, clumsy thing. They said they were going to take photographs and play certain music, but that goes out of the window. They just want to spend time with her – and concentrate on her fully.
Did you film the scenes with a real baby?
Lucy: We had three babies. I thought I was having a real baby there would help – and it did in some scenes – but then it was wriggling too much! Of course, Grace wouldn’t wiggle or cry much so in some scenes we had to take the baby out.
Paddy also imagines a trip away with their daughter. Was that filmed separately?Lucy: I don’t want to give too much away, but it was really nice to film something slightly different, and happier, and to see them as a couple in different circumstances.
Was it emotional to film?
Dominic: It was upsetting – you rehearse it, but its for an actual take that you’re kind of saving it. Lucy was so honest and natural in what she was doing that you couldn’t help being swept along with it. We just kept saying, “Thank God we’re not living this.”
Were there tears during the emotional scenes?
Dominic: The cameraman was crying! It’s the most engaging, affecting thing I’ve filmed in the last 21 years that I’ve been here – by far.
Lucy: You knew when you had got the take right, as (cameraman) Amit would just look at you from behind the camera, with tears. The main aim of the game if to make people cry.
Dominic: It’s a sad episode for the viewers to watch, but I don’t think anyone will come away from it thinking, “I wish I hadn’t watched it.” It’s hopeful – and it’s very upbeat, strangely.
How will Chas and Paddy cope with their loss in the weeks ahead?
Lucy: There’s no manual for grief. Everyone goes through grief in different ways, and it’s not necessarily the same as your partner’s grief – so, we’ll see. We’re filming now, and I’m sure it will be fully experienced between the two of them.