*Emmerdale *is about to mark its much-hyped 40th birthday, with a week-long celebration of the soap, which includes a highly anticipated a live episode, jam-packed full of drama.
Soap lovers will watch as one “well loved” character meets their fate, two couples take the plunge and marry, and two babies are born in the village.
But getting ready for such a momentous episode is hard work. Usually filming is split between the *Emmerdale *village and a studio in Leeds, but on the night of the live episode, cast members won’t have time to travel between the two locations – something which caused head of design Gillian Slight a bit of a headache.
She explained: “The most challenging aspect of preparing the village for the live episode has been building the sets. We have two interior sets we need to build especially for the live episode.
"We’re building the inside of the Woolpack which is going into the building which is usually just the shell of the Woolpack.”
Gillian added: “During the live, everything has to be shot at the village. There aren’t really any interiors that are large enough so we have had to scale down the sets that are going in those locations. We have been working on this since May, starting with the planning and drawings before handing over to the construction team.
“It’s complicated as the Woolpack is not the same size as the version we film in at our studios in Leeds. It has been a full time job for one of our team members to source many of the fittings in the Woolpack. We discovered the fabric coverings are a discontinued line, so research was done how to acquire some to match it up.
“Fortunately we have found some, otherwise we would have had to change the fabric beforehand in the Woolpack studios for continuity. We have been scouring bric-a-brac shops and ebay looking for props to match up.”
On top of the set issues, the actors will be furiously rehearsing their lines to ensure they can pull off the live episode as flawlessly as possible.
But there could be one other problem; everyone always says actors should avoid working with children or animals, but two babies will be on set for the births which take place during the live episode.
Gillian has a strategy in place for this too though. She explained: “We do have to plan the births as we have to work out how we use the fake and then the real babies. Also we do have to watch how much blood we use as we are a 7pm show. It
is all implied rather than actually seen.”
She continued: “As well as using real babies in the live episode, we will be using fake babies which we have had to pre-order well in advance. We can order exactly what is needed. They can have valves that make them look like they breathe and umbilical cords.
"However, as they are made of gelatine they do have a very short shelf life. They are extremely fragile so we ensure they aren’t over handled. For that reason, the gelatine babies will just be used for the actual births in the live.”
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