Remembering the time Emmerdale had the most ridiculous disaster scene in soap opera history
We're getting close to the four-year anniversary of The Most Ridiculous Action Scene Of The Century - Emmerdale's helicopter wedding crash bonanza.
Widely regarded as an absolute triumph for CGI and ridiculous dramatic soap scenes alike, this stunning piece of television has everything.
2015 was the year Emmerdale put itself on the map, shedding its stereotypes of tame farmyard antics and a family of rambunctious folk known simply as the Dingles. They went big, bigger than big, they went huge. They faked a helicopter crash all in the name of light entertainment.
Naturally, in order to gain the appropriate amount of appreciation for this thoroughly bananas scene, we must look into it greater detail, perhaps even too much.
In true dramatic Emmerdale fashion, the sequence of events begins with a rousing rummage through a kitchen bin. "Where would I put me dongle?", we hear as the search party begins, with a bin being emptied frantically onto the kitchen floor. They root around through perfectly-crumpled packets, unrecycled beer cans and random bits of paper, eventually finding a USB titled 'Wedding Tunes'. Based on the information being presented, the real world year is approximately 2001, but the Emmerdale year is 2015.
Next, we visit a junkyard. You can tell it's a junkyard because it is both full of junk and visibly a yard. Props to the props department for their success in obtaining a pristine white hardhat and placing it among a plethora of junkyard-friendly items such as shelves, wood, sheeting, bins and two 47kg tanks of propane gas. As well as palpable anticipation, there's also a small fire brewing near the gas. What could this possibly have to do with some WeDdInG TuNeS that are stored on a stinky USB? Buckle up, bitches.
Continuing to tee up the dramatics nicely, we're treated to a poorly-framed helicopter shot. The chopper is evidently flying over a farmland area, perhaps it is indeed the titular area, Emmerdale itself. It seems an irrelevant addition to show, perhaps merely an establishing shot to remind us that this farm-centric soap opera is set, in fact, on a farm. With regards to the shot itself, it was brave and inclusive of the crew to allow a blind toddler to direct the camera. Good on Emmerdale for giving everyone a chance, even during such a pivotal episode as this one.
While the seemingly-inconsequential helicopter takes a tour of 'The Dales', a young and attractive couple are celebrating their wedding in what appears to be very large papier-mâché dome. The DJ has played either the wrong track, or a very shit song that is comprised entirely of a man saying in an emotionless tone, "He's never going to do it for you like me". The groom works out what's happening, he seems to recognise the voice. The bride looks ashamed. She's been exposed. What could this possibly have to do with the helicopter equivalent of a Sunday drive though? And where are the previously-advertised wedding tunes?
Still processing the unfolding dramatics, we return to the junkyard that is now fully aflame. A man is sleeping soundly in his car, unaware of the fire nor the advisable ten and two steering wheel hand placement system. Perhaps he should've worn his hard hat, or remembered that you have to leave the car behind when you take it to be scrapped, not remaining inside it to perish when it enters the crushing machine. How are all of these separate unrelated incidents supposed to be connected? Surely they cannot be?
Back to the wedding, where the convenient emergence of an affair continues to selfishly ruin this special day. The groom spits all over himself shouting 'PLAY IT' after the track is stopped. It's a conversation between his cheating bride and presumed lover. She's telling him it's over, but he won't accept her position. The faces around the room continue to drop as they realise that an encore of Come On Eileen probably isn't going to happen now, nor the midnight buffet or a Rock The Boat ensemble dance.
A quick cutaway back to the junkyard reminds us that there is currently 94kg of propane gas sitting beside a blazing fire while all of this wedding drama is, for lack of a better expression, blowing up. It doesn't really seem to tie in with the helicopter, wedding or wayward USB drive yet. OR DOES IT?
We return to the wedding of nightmares to see the bride and groom both crying and breathing heavily. No words are exchanged. The groom simply shakes his head in disbelief as his world seems to have come crumbling down around him. Surely, if there is a God and he is watching over Emmerdale farm, things cannot get any worse than this for our star-crossed lovers.
Well, I'm shocked. The junkyard with a combined total of 94kg of propane gas sitting idle by a naked flame has indeed exploded. Debris is strewn everywhere. The guy napping in the car is probably dead with his charred remains still gripping the steering wheel in the wrong place, that pristine white hardhat would be torched beyond belief, even the scrap metal has probably melted / been narrowly escaped an untimely demise by gaining sentience and fleeing the scene. We're still not sure how this connects to the wedding, but that Emmerdale farm sure does seem to be dangerous place.
Goodness, that really is quite an explosion when you see it from an aerial point of view. The junkyard is much bigger than it seemed as well. There's even a dishwasher section and a logistics-defying truck placed atop a shipping container. What's inside the little portacabin to the left of the explosion, do we think? Probably a grumpy old man taking a nap at his desk beside a mini fridge, kettle and tea station complete with a wet spoon sitting in a bag of granulated sugar. Hopefully he will survive the blast, although given its magnitude, that looks highly unlikely bec- HANG ON WHAT'S THAT SHOOTING OUT OF THE FIRE?
Oh you're joking. It's a gas canister and it's just struck the helicopter from earlier. They were connected after all! The sheer force of the fire has shot a gas canister up into the sky at the exact moment that the helicopter was passing by overhead. Talk about a tragic set of circumstances. If that helicopter pilot had left just five minutes earlier rather than taking a precautionary pre-flight wee, this could've been avoided. Emmerdale farm really is the unluckiest place on earth.
Finally, some relief from the mayhem as we go back to the wedding. Oh, never mind. They're screaming at each other now, with the onlookers continuing to lament any chances they had at seeing a cheeky fondle during the first dance. "I chose you", the bride screams. But the groom isn't buying it. He's too upset. He's just found out that the woman he's vowed to spend the rest of his life with is cheating scum. What a terrible time for all involved. Still, it could be much worse. There are bigger fires to very literally put out in Emmerdale farm at this exact moment. Nobody's dead. They can probably overcome this.
Our ears get a break from the post-wedding screaming match to see an attendee getting a breather outside. He's staring wistfully into the sky as he realises that he's not going to get to put his tie around his head and dance to You Can Call Me Al. Not today anyway. Wait, what's that? Something in the air appears to have caught his attention.
OH GOD HE HAS DROPPED HIS PINT WHICH IS ABOUT TO SMASH, SUCH IS THE SHOCKING NATURE OF WHAT HE IS SEEING. WHAT COULD IT BE? SURELY NOT THAT INJURED HELICOPTER HURTLING TOWARDS THE EXACT SPOT WHERE THE WEDDING IS BEING HELD?
OH FUCK OFF! IT IS. IT IS INDEED THE HELICOPTER MAKING A BEELINE FOR THE VENUE WHICH WE CAN WORK OUT THANKS TO THE ON BOARD CAMERA SHOT. Look, you can even see this beer-deprived man legging it back into the building. JESUS CHRIST WHAT A TURN OF EVENTS.
"Everyone out, move NOW" he shouts, running further into the building because he was born to die a hero. The wedding guests, cheating scum bride included, all scream. They don't know what's happening. All they know is that this man went outside for a pint and has now returned empty-handed and shouting incoherently at the top of his lungs. Either he has just double dropped in the carpark, or something bad is about to happen. Regardless, nobody really moves.
And there it is. The helicopter crashes straight into the wedding venue. All four establishing elements of the show have fused as one. The USB uncovered the affair, the junkyard fire exploded because of the propane gas tanks, then one of them flew into the air and struck the helicopter, which then ploughed into the wedding hall. You truly couldn't write it because it would be binned after the first draft. Emmerdale, my dude, my guy, you are reaching.
As the roof caves in on a wedding that would've scored very low on Four Weddings, the audience is treated to a montage of debris, smog and panicked expressions as one important question is organically raised in the mind of the viewer - If someone cheats, do they deserve to die on the spot at the hands of an incredibly convenient propane-gas-fuelled helicopter crash?
The closing shot is grim as it begins to sink in that those fairground rides will remain untouched for quite some time, maybe indefinitely. Emmerdale isn't afraid to tackle the more serious issues, nor does it shy away from high end production, as evidenced in the above image. What a monumental milestone for light entertainment and soap operas alike. Emmerdale Farm truly is the unluckiest place on earth. Your move, Corrie.
Images via YouTube / ITV