On Friday 17th May I was amongst the lucky journalists to 'Experience Emmerdale from Writing to Wrap' as Telly Spy's Soapy correspondent at the ITV studios in Leeds.
It was nice to see some familiar faces from last year too (especially Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy), and as soon as everyone arrived we were ushered straight into the Woolpack. This is what you DON'T see on screen. Just look at all those cameras!
There was the usual excellent Emmerdale hospitality on offer (and here's me pulling a pint. I know: I'm no Priya, Alicia or Chas!), and we were soon tucking in to lunch and a glass of wine while chatting informally to some of the cast.
I was SO pleased to finally get meet those lovely ladies Kerry (who was sporting some very convincing make-up!) and Vanessa, then Moira joined us for a short time (before having to leave to get back on set). I grabbed a few words with both Eric and Cameron before David came and joined Daniel and I for a natter. David's such a friendly guy and clearly loves being involved in all the PR stuff!
We then had a chance to do some 'proper' interviews. Katie, Alicia, Cameron, Dom, Debbie, Laurel and (a rather wistful-looking) Gennie gave up their time to chat with us but – as usual – nobody gave anything away that they shouldn't – gossip-wise!
It had only been announced that week that Gennie was leaving, but we'd also just found out that Nikhil was also quitting. He arrived later in the afternoon and told us that (like with Gennie) it had felt like the right time to go.
Anyway: the day had been entitled, 'Experience Emmerdale from Writing to Wrap'. We'd all expected to be shown around the studio, maybe meet with a couple of the writers and presumably watch a scene being shot.
It was actually US who were going to write a scene, film it and then have it judged (Apprentice-style: Vanessa was a 'mole') by John Whiston (Executive Producer) and Kate Oates (Emmerdale's new Producer) at the end.
None of us were expecting THAT, but they'd already organised it into teams Chas and Dave. I was on Dave's team, and we had to write a 30-second cliffhanger involving David, Priya and Alicia. We'd all been allocated our roles. I was the sound recordist and didn't have a great deal to do at first, so spent the time chatting to the sound crew and being shown the ropes.
Climbing up onto the microphone platform (I've spent an hour on Google but can't find the proper name for it, but here's a photos of one) was the toughest part – as it wasn't a very lady-like manoeuvre for an old bird like me (!), but once perched on my seat I had a chance to get to grips with it and practise moving the microphone around to best effect.
The guys (Chris, Rob and Boe) were lovely, and Chris showed me how the sound editing room worked too. It was fascinating, and I only wish I'd taken some photos. The official photographer (who bore more than a passing resembance to The L Word's Shane!) was snapping away the whole time, so there'll be lot of shots appearing online very soon, no doubt.
Having to do it ourselves taught us so much about the process – and really brought us together as a team. We all had a great time, and watching the scenes in the Woolpack in Friday's episode when I got back home on Saturday night felt very surreal – having been there in person only the day before.
They're such a genuinely friendly crowd at Emmerdale and they really go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Thank you to everyone who was involved in giving us such a memorable day, and I can't wait for the next Event!