This year I have looked at the most prestigious awards featured in the British Soap Awards, and chosen who I would like to see claim each prize. Some categories proved harder than others when it came to selecting just one winner, showing just how impressive the acting has been over the past twelve months. Here is my take on who deserves what.
Jack P Shepherd has had some strong scenes as Corrie’s David Platt over the past year, acting out Kylie’s death and moving viewers to tears in the aftermath as well. The Dales’ Danny Miller was last year’s winner. Notable performances include Aaron’s involvement in the Hotten car pile-up, his popular relationship with Robert Sugden and his prison torture. Emmerdale’s former vicar Ashley Thomas, played by John Middleton, recently passed away and the actor’s poignant portrayal of his battle with Dementia struck a chord with many viewers. Over in Hollyoaks, Jamie Lomas has been back as Warren Fox since last year in one of the best soap returns in recent years. Warren started an unlikely friendship with Ste, got together with Sienna and suffered the loss of his unborn baby – a powerful scene for which he was widely-praised. Gregory Finnegan, who plays James Nightingale, had the task of acting out a historical abuse reveal. James had been beaten as a child by his father and the unexpected admission was very sensitively portrayed.
My Winner: John Middleton
As Stacey Fowler, multiple award winner Lacey Turner continues to shine on EastEnders. This year saw her go back to Stacey’s feisty best as well as some warmer family moments. Coronation Street’s Lucy Fallon has the biggest of their current plots on her shoulders right now as Bethany is in the grips of a disturbing sex grooming storyline. Her nomination comes after months of praise for her work. When Kym Marsh’s character Michelle lost her baby boy through a late miscarriage, Kym performed the scenes with a personal strength and understanding that moved surely everyone watching. Hollyoaks’ Sienna, played by Anna Passey, had to deal with the discovery that her teenage daughter had killed her father Patrick. It was a highly charged scene and a haunting performance. Emmerdale’s nominee, Charlotte Bellamy, has been portraying Ashley’s Dementia story from the perspective of his wife Laurel. Viewers have watched her go through countless emotions and stages of the story which has been acted beautifully.
My Winner: Charlotte Bellamy, Anna Passey or Kym Marsh.
Best Single Episode:
Back in December, an entire Emmerdale episode was dedicated to Ashley Thomas. Intricate camera work and different actors were used, giving viewers a detailed insight from the character’s point of view of what it’s like to live with Dementia. Scenes from the episode have since been used in training videos to give a better understanding of the condition. In EastEnders, Lee Carter’s depression battle took a dark turn when he came close to ending his life. As an unidentified woman stopped to help him on the roof of a car park, Lee talked frankly about how badly he was struggling. Actor Danny-Boy Hatchard stole the episode with a heartbreaking and raw performance. Coronation Street saw Kylie Platt’s murder rip her away from husband David and their two children last summer. In their final scene together, Jack P Shepherd and Paula Lane broke viewers’ hearts and showed what a fantastic onscreen partnership they shared. Hollyoaks explored the issue of sexual consent when Ellie Nightingale spoke out after months of silence, telling her family that she had no memory of having sex with Nick Savage. When her brother James used a police-style method to discuss consent, the scene was a huge talking point. Actress Sophie Porley has been playing out the delicate story since the autumn, delivering countless standout scenes.
My Winner: Ashley’s Point Of View – Emmerdale.
Of the five nominations, I’ve chosen my top three for this category. Doctors guest actors Lucy-Jo Hudson and Andy Moss played Rhiannon and her partner Paul, who were granted custody of their baby despite the mother having already been accused of neglecting her first child. The story grew darker and Lucy-Jo, Andy and Dido Miles (Dr Emma Reid) were fantastic right through to the shocking climax. Hollyoaks told the story of a teenage couple both battling cancer at the same time. Talented young actors Kassius Nelson and Richard Linnell were effortless in their roles as Jade and Alfie. Their journey was full of warmth and humour as well as heartbreak and tragedy, and though it didn’t have a happy ending the message was ultimately uplifting. Once again Emmerdale’s work on the story of Ashley’s Dementia has been recognised. It’s not just the leading actors who have been blowing viewers away; there’s also Rosie Bentham and Alfie Clarke as young Gabby and Arthur. Amidst heartbreaking moments like Ashley forgetting his wife and children, there were a collection of lighter scenes that showcased the love within the family. Experienced viewers could identify with every consequence of the condition shown onscreen.
My Winner: Ashley’s Dementia – Emmerdale.
The best of the bunch for Newcomer in my opinion are Sally Dexter and Rob Mallard. Sally joined Emmerdale as Faith, the mother of Chas and Cain Dingle. She proved an instant hit with viewers as a fun-loving great-granny, and recently the actress tackled the subject of breast cancer as it was revealed that Faith had undergone a double mastectomy. The acting was as respectful and sensitive as the writing. Rob plays Corrie’s Daniel, the youngest son of Ken Barlow. A clever character hiding the fact that his mum Denise had been missing from his life for years, Daniel can also be witty and entertaining should the need arise. He gives as good as he gets when it comes to bantering with the likes of sister Tracy and nephew Adam.
My Winner: Sally Dexter – Emmerdale. (Faith interrupted the Robron wedding and the viewers still loved her!)
Best Female Dramatic Performance:
Corrie’s best actress nominee Kym Marsh gets another well-deserved mention for her powerful portrayal of late miscarriage. Michelle’s story touched a huge amount of viewers. Her baby Ruairi wasn’t even granted a birth certificate, and Kym’s decision to take on the story meant that we were educated about issues like this. Emmerdale’s Charlotte Bellamy is also a double nominee this year. Laurel has been one to watch for the past eighteen months. As we watched her hear the news that her husband was dying, the devastation was written all over her face. Charlotte conveyed everything without one word of dialogue. Over on EastEnders, Diane Parish (Denise Fox) gave a moving performance as her character chose to give her baby up for adoption. Poor Denise now finds herself struggling without a job and money, an issue which is rarely explored to this extent in the soap world.
My Winner: Kym Marsh or Charlotte Bellamy.
Best Male Dramatic Performance:
It’s a year for multiple nominees, as the Dales’ John Middleton gets his second individual award nod. To deliver a realistic portrayal of a man in the advanced stages of Dementia and touch people’s lives in the process is a huge achievement. Hollyoaks’ nominee is Kieron Richardson, whose character Ste Hay has had yet another difficult year. A special three-hander episode last summer saw Ste suffer a drugs relapse, and more recently he was charged with the murder of Amy Barnes. Kieron’s performances always captivate the audience and he can set the tone of a scene through facial expression alone. He also has several consecutive nominations to his name. In EastEnders, Steve McFadden has been acting the part of alcoholic Phil Mitchell for decades. His relapse throughout last year was expertly performed, and it has been said that nobody can act the part of a drunken man as convincingly as Steve.
My Winner: Kieron Richardson.
Best On-Screen Partnership:
Although Corrie and EastEnders have put forward two popular pairings, I think Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have the edge when it comes to this award. Oaks’ teenage cancer storyline gave us the brilliant Richard Linnell & Kassius Nelson as Alfie & Jade. As they battled their illnesses together, their heartwarming relationship shone through the screen. One highlight saw Alfie give his girlfriend a taste of what it would be like to live out fifty years of marriage. Jade’s death played out alongside a fantasy trip to the beach. Richard and Kassius share three nominations including Best Storyline and Scene of the Year. With a total of seven nominations linked to their work together this year, Emmerdale’s John Middleton & Charlotte Bellamy deserved this joint nod to a partnership that spanned over a decade. Their final scene together – a moving dream sequence – was something special and was kept under wraps until transmission. Ashley, appearing via television as his old self, visited Laurel and listed the ten things he loved about his wife. It was a touching tribute to the couple’s history.
My Winners: John Middleton & Charlotte Bellamy.
Best Young Actor:
Again, there are two nominees who particularly stand out in this panel-voted category. From her very first appearance early last year, Isobel Steele has been stealing scenes. Playing Aaron Dingle’s half-sister Liv, the young actress can deliver a wide range of performances whether its drama or comedy. Ela May Demircan plays Ste’s daughter Leah in Hollyoaks, and although this is her first nomination viewers have been recognising her talent for years. She can break your heart with an emotional scene and deliver a classic ‘diva Leah’ line with just as much impact.
My Winner: Ela May Demircan.
Scene of the Year:
My top three choices for best soap scene start with Emmerdale for the ‘Hotten Bypass Pile Up’. An ensemble stunt that involved various unrelated characters, it resulted in a mass car collision caused when Emma Barton pushed husband James from a bridge. The build up to the big moment was just as gripping as the scene itself, and the truth behind what happened is still under wraps in the village. Hollyoaks’ superb cancer story came to an end with ‘Jade says Goodbye to Alfie’ as the pair imagined they were sitting on the beach together. In reality Jade slipped away in her boyfriend’s arms in her hospital bed. Months later Alfie, who had been having visions of Jade in the aftermath, was ready to say his own goodbye to her. The surprise moment was beautifully crafted and performed. In Coronation Street, it was ‘Michelle’s Goodbye to Ruairi’ that has earned the soap a nod for scene of the year. It also marks a total of four mentions in the shortlist for this story. Michelle asked husband Steve to leave her alone with their son while she cradled him for the final time. As well as the writers and directors involved, credit for this scene belongs to Kym Marsh for an unforgettable performance.
My Winner: Michelle’s Goodbye to Ruairi.