Emmerdale Older Cast Members need a voice!

Emmerdale has a wealth of experience within its cast but we don’t get to hear from them very often. The Emmerdaily contributor @IShipVanity explains why the older cast members deserve the chance to be heard!

Emmerdale Older Cast Members
Emmerdale Older Cast Members

Any wine maker would say their yield ages wonderfully over time and provides the very best vintage. The same can be said for Emmerdale’s older characters, seemingly forgotten and put on the shelf, wheeled out to be part of other storylines but getting none of their own. Emmerdale has built its narrative upon creating community driven storylines for decades, but as of late that philosophy has seemingly gone when it comes to the older cast. Maybe its for contractual or personal reasons, but it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Chief amongst those characters being wasted is Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell), who has clocked well over 1,000 episodes in his time on the serial drama. His character has schemed, sought reconciliation and has gone on the straight and narrow lately. However, it does feel as if he is parachuted into moments of crisis for his son David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) or his extended family.

Thurs 12 Sept 2019 – 8pm: Pollard resolves to join the quest to clear the village of drugs and later, as Doug Potts has a sneaky spliff, he’s caught red handed by Pollard. Will he report him or find another way to deal with this issue?

On his day, Chittell is firmly a standout performer as is Duncan Preston who plays Doug Potts. The drugs storyline drew the two characters together through Doug’s ‘drugs factory’. Instead of concentrating on a hard-hitting storyline, the narrative went towards comedic hijinks. Whilst the village and the series needs moments of comedy, it was a wasted opportunity to explore a very on topic issue based storyline.

How do people cope with pain management through illegal drug use? How do friends cope with seeing people in pain? It was a missed opportunity and highlighted flaws in the creative process whereby older characters are not afforded the same high-stakes drama that younger characters get.

Chittell has more than once shown his depth of raw engaging performances, just cast your minds back to Eric sharing his own experiences of his stillborn child with Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter). It was raw, emotive, packed with grit and depth. Emmerdale really do need to give him the material he can shine with, in turn creating a balanced community feel.

Diane Sugden (Elizabeth Estensen) has also suffered from the same immovable notion that older characters are not given greater focus. Again, brought in to supplement Robert Sugden’s (Ryan Hawley) and Victoria Sugden’s (Isabel Hodgins) sexual assault and later murder storylines. Also, the aftermath of Rishi Sharma’s (Bhasker Patel) factory empire going in flames was glossed over, not giving character the chance to forge his way without something he held so dearly.

Far beyond the audience missing out on captivating performances from some of soapland’s greatest performers, issues that older viewers may have are not being given the consideration. Years ago we saw Pearl Ladderbanks (Meg Johnson) have financial problems which lead to being in debt, syphoning money from the vets. That storyline was good and showed Pearl struggle to cope with the burden. Johnson gave an excellent portrayal and gave older viewers a voice into the bargain.

There are issues facing the older population in the United Kingdom and beyond such as loneliness in the older age brackets or the loss of mobility. These issues are rarely covered and there is a plethora of talent that could give those storylines the sensitivity they require.

For instance, Brenda Walker (Lesley Dunlop) always seemingly cuts a lonely figure in the village. Such a storyline would give Dunlop the material viewers know she thrives in. Important older issues should be given the right to be seen and right now Emmerdale is failing to provide the older cast with the material to cover very important issue-based storylines. There is no voice for the elderly or the issues they face.

There is vast consensus within the audience that older characters are being under-utilised. It robs the chance for the show to be enriched by it. For the viewers to connect with the characters that should not be thrown on the soap storyline scrapheap. Let’s use their wealth of experience, not ignore it!

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