Emmerdale’s Laurel Thomas is going to find herself in the eye of the storm next week as she realises one of her neighbours is a killer.
The mild-mannered villager has become suspicious of Emma Barton’s recent behaviour and soon learns the truth that she was behind James Barton’s death.
And so begins a game of cat and mouse as Laurel does what she can to get the evidence she needs to send Emma down.
Here Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Laurel, admits that her alter ego is in serious danger by taking on Emma.
At what point is Laurel first suspicious that something is going on with Emma?
They go out for a walk and she fakes going over on her ankle, when Laurel goes back she finds Emma rooting through. Laurel sort of catches her red handed but she doesn’t ponder on it really because she doesn’t think there’s anything suspicious, even though Arthur is behaving very oddly. She just thinks it’s because of his dad dying, she doesn’t put two and two together.
Is Emma searching for the incriminating tape?
Yeah, she’s trying to find the tape. Arthur has seen the tape, so Emma’s searching for it desperately but then Laurel interrupts her.
What does Emma do to deflect attention away from her?
It’s only until Laurel confronts her, what transpires is Arthur eventually tells her. He’s been bed wetting, which is out of character and every time Emma comes over to the house he runs off or is rude to her, which is not like him at all. Laurel starts to become suspicious about his behaviour, again, she doesn’t think it’s anything to do with Emma. Eventually he does say, ‘Emma’s told me you are dying’, that’s when Laurel confronts her.
What happens when Laurel confronts her?
It’s very clever, Emma’s so clever because she keeps twisting things. The audience will be screaming! She just always seems to be able to get out of every situation. It gets darker and darker, she’s awful. She twists things to make Laurel look mad and unreasonable. She’s really sweet as pie, Laurel’s getting more frustrated.
The tapes get destroyed, what happens?
The do get destroyed which is so heartbreaking. She’s with Arthur in the church and more or less makes him drop the tape in a bucket of water, he thinks he’s dropped it but of course, she’s engineered it. That’s all his memories of his dad destroyed. There is a memory card but she tramples on that. So I don’t know if we ever get to see that tape, I still don’t know. In fact, I was trying to find out the other day but no one would tell me! I don’t know the end of this story yet so I don’t know if she will get her comeuppance, I’m sure she will.
What’s it like working with Gillian Kearney, who plays Emma?
It’s really weird for me because I’ve been working with John Middleton so much and then suddenly I’m thrown into a completely different story, she’s great though. I think she’s a really clever actress, she’s really good because the sweeter she is, the worse she is!
What does Laurel think Emma’s actually up to?
Eventually she realises that Emma was on the tape and she confronts her saying ‘You were on the bridge, why were you on the bridge? Did you push James?’, but Emma twists it and says, ‘We were all on the bridge’. She twists it by saying that Ashley thought we were all on the bridge. It’s really clever the way it’s been written.
Does she ever feel in danger?
Yeah, definitely. I think with Emma you can’t underestimate what she’s going to do, even if she is into god at the moment. Emma’s so erratic and Laurel does believe that she killed James. As the story progresses Laurel’s totally convinced, no one else is though! The audience are on Laurel’s side but the more the story develops the more mad she looks than Emma. Laurel does confront Finn trying to find it what happened at the court hearing. The more she finds out things from each character the more she pieces it together and is convinced she killed James.
Is that why she ends up calling the police?
Yeah, Laurel eventually calls the police. She’s aware she’s not got any evidence but she’s hoping that Emma might crack under the pressure of the police. But of course she’s too clever for that. She’s got god on her side! Without giving too much away, Emma’s new found religion is her weak point in the end. As the story progresses she becomes more obsessed with god.
Do you think it’s only fair that Laurel is the person who brings Emma down?
I suppose the audience are with me on this, they want Laurel to get her because those tapes have been around for ages. It’s not going to be as simple as that.
Do you think she’s capable of a soap fight and take on Emma physically?
Laurel’s not a fighter. I suppose she’s very passionate because in a way what Emma did with Ashley, and now her son, it’s awful. So she will be pushed, I’m sure.
Does Laurel realise how mental Emma is?
Yeah, by the end. Yes.
Does Emma use Laurel’s drinking against her?
Yes, she does. Emma plants a bottle of vodka so it looks like Laurel is drinking. She tells people she’s drinking again so of course that gives her story a bit more weight because it looks like Laurel is going mad or drinking because of Ashley’s death. She’s trying to discredit her.
Laurel talks to Harriet about Emma, could they team up together against her?
That’s a good idea and then they could get Cain on it as well. That would be good, we’d smash her! She doesn’t talk to Harriet that much to be honest, it’s more Bob she confides in.
What’s it been like to have done the Ashley storyline and then shift gear into this cat and mouse story?
It’s been weird actually because it’s a completely different story and different emotionally too. I’ve enjoyed it because after everything I’ve done over the last year and with John leaving I felt a bit like, ‘Woah’. So to go into this was a good thing because it didn’t let me ponder on losing John too much. Obviously I’m sad that John’s not here. That story had such amazing feedback so it was good to carry on, do something else and put my energies into something new. I love working with Gillian!
Have you seen John?
Yeah, he’s really brown. He sails a lot. It’s like he’s been to Greece. He’s great. He’s absolutely great. He’s enjoying his new journey really.
Does this feel like a new chapter for you and the character now?
Yeah, I suppose it’s a whole new journey, isn’t it? We did do a thing with Emma a while back where seeds were planted. It wasn’t like we suddenly decided: ‘Right, we’re gonna do this.’ I think people have been thinking when’s that tape gonna come up? But I don’t know where Laurel will go from here. I’m happy to do whatever. We haven’t pondered too much on the death of Ashley. That’s why they wanted to do the dream sequence that we did because we had to have a kind of closure. Otherwise I’d be moping around for the next year. And I think the audience genuinely… you have to move on in Soap land to a certain extent.
Would you want Laurel to be single for a while?
Oh God year. Iain, our producer, said it: ‘The audience haven’t got an appetite for that.’ He’s absolutely right. So I’m very happy just to be in the background.
For years Emmerdale was the underdog and now it’s gone up and up. What do you think has changed?
I think it’s a mixture of things. I think it all starts with story and the kind of orchestration of stories. Kate Oates put it into a different gear. Then we’ve Iain taking over he just kind of ran with it. The Story teams are so strong. Obviously our producers are amazing and the cast have just got stronger and stronger. Now we don’t feel like the poor uncle at the awards. And we did. With the audience behind you it’s so appreciated. It’s great. It’s the golden years at the moment. But being realistic, all soaps go up and down. Let’s hope we can continue giving people the stories they want to watch.