Emmerdale stars reveal stunt death secrets

Emmerdale’s huge stunt week is almost upon us, and it’s safe to say that there’s death, disaster and devastation in store!

A number of the ITV soap’s finest are put in danger during the week in question, due to Priya Kotecha’s (Fiona Wade) and Ellis Chapman (Aaron Anthony) survival challenge.

As the week commences, the survival challenge begins, and the survivalists jump into their rafts, before setting off down the river. Billy Fletcher (Jay Kontzle) and Ben Tucker (Simon Lennon) try to rally their respective team members.

It seems to be going rather well, but the day soon takes a horrible turn and many are left fighting for their lives in the menacing waters.

Manpreet Sharma (Rebecca Sarker) and Charles Anderson (Kevin Mathurin) are among those in danger, and ahead of the tense scenes, Metro.co.uk caught up with both for a chat.

Manpreet recently split up from Rishi. Is this connected to her feelings for Charles?

Rebecca: Manpreet says that she’s fallen out of love with Rishi. She still loves him but she’s not in love with him. It’s not a romantic love but she’s adamant that it has nothing to do with Charles, but the question is, is she being truthful to herself? I don’t think even Manpreet knows the answer to that yet. But maybe the survival event will make things a little clearer.

Charles is in a relationship with Andrea. How is it going in the build-up to the survival challenge?

Kevin: In Charles’ mind, it’s going really well. He’s just told her that he loves her and Andrea has said it back, so their relationship has moved to the next level and there was even talk of moving in.

But obviously she’s got her own issues to address with Kim Tate at the moment. There’s that story going on over Millie, so I think that’s kind of messing up the flow of the situation at the moment.

It’s whether things are being speeded up because they really want that to happen, or is it really the right time to be moving the relationship on? We’re in that kind of limbo, but it’s a good, healthy place.

Does Charles have feelings for Manpreet?

Kevin: There’s always been feelings for Manpreet, whether it’s more than friendship… because we’ve got history and I think whenever you’re in a relationship and you’re not the one who broke it off – or in Manpreet’s case, left Charles at the aisle – you’ve not got closure. It’s very rare that you have closure on your feelings for that other person.

Even though exterior-ally, he’s very tough, he knows that’s the past and he’s in a relationship, he can’t help but see that there’s a rapport and something very natural between… the chemistry between Manpreet and Charles.

How does he find himself involved in the survival challenge?

Kevin: Well, I think as far as Charles and Andrea are concerned, they’re both going through some very stressful times at the moment. Storyline-wise, Charles is having a dilemma over the appearance of Esme, his long-lost wife, Ethan’s mum. Ethan has met up with her and it’s not gone to plan. He’s just been patching all of this up and trying to make sure everyone is okay and ‘we’ll get through this’. Charles is always thinking of other people rather than himself.

Charles is just worn out. He wants to have a break and it just so happens that Andrea says this survival challenge is going on. He says: ‘Okay, let’s go on that. Anything to escape the village for a bit’.

How does Manpreet find herself involved?

Rebecca: I’ve forgotten! Sorry! I don’t always read the scripts, guys. No, I do! I don’t think it’s particularly significant. I think she’s strong-armed into it by Meena. There’s a place going and she needs to make up the numbers, but it’s the last thing she wants to do because obviously she just wants to hide away. She’s just dropped this bombshell on Rishi and she just wants the world to go away and to hide.

Meena has obviously got something up her sleeve and Manpreet is a facilitator for that, not that she realises it.

Meena winds Andrea up over Manpreet and Charles. What do you think she’s hoping to do?

Rebecca: Meena makes no secret of the fact that she’s not a fan of Rishi or Andrea. Number one, she’s desperate for Manpreet and Charles to get together.

She likes to influence events and have control. I think she also really enjoys the game. She enjoys being the puppetmaster and creating havoc, with very little regard for the consequences or other people’s feelings.

Viewers may have noticed a spark between Manpreet and Charles. Could we eventually see them declare their feelings for each other?

Rebecca: Nothing brings home the fragility of life than a brush with the Grim Reaper, a near-miss. There’s always been and there still is a real chemistry between Charles and Manpreet. We were doing a scene the other day and apparently we sizzled!

Kevin: It was a hot day, I had layers on!

Rebecca: It was a balmy October day. So there has been a real chemistry and they try to fight against it. Obviously assuming Manpreet and Charles make it out alive, will this sort of intense experience bring them together or will it rock them so much that it drives a wedge in their relationship? Will they have the same response to it? Might it be that what’s said in the rapids stays in the rapids a bit like Fight Club?

Charles soon realises that Andrea is not happy with him. Does he realise that Meena has been winding her up?

Kevin: Not at all. It comes across a bit odd. It seems like it comes out of nowhere because it wasn’t ideal going away together, but he’s kind of enjoying it and all of a sudden Andrea’s very snappy at him and he doesn’t understand where it’s coming from.

There’s all these questions being asked about moving in, are we going to do it or not? All of a sudden there’s pressure, then when you get to the crux of where it’s coming from, it’s jealousy over whether Charles still has feelings. There’s a really uncomfortable moment where Andrea asks Charles if he still has feelings for Manpreet. You’ll have to watch to find out what he says.

Charles is an honourable man, but do you think he really belongs with Manpreet?

Kevin: I don’t know how revealing that answer would be. Charles is honourable and in his mind what’s in the past is in the past. At the time Manpreet was with Rishi, yes they are no longer together but now is not the time. Charles wouldn’t be like: ‘Oh, this is my opportunity’. Because right now, all of his focus is with Andrea. 

But I think he still has feelings for Manpreet in terms of wanting to know if she’s going to be okay. He hates the fact that she’s suffering and he tries to lift her. Andrea trusts him enough to know that that’s the past, he’s a good guy, he doesn’t want to see good people in trouble. At present, his focus is on Andrea. Whether he believes it himself, that’s what he’s telling himself.”

Manpreet picks up the sabotaged harness. Is she in danger at this point?

Rebecca: Well I think it’s safe to say that when Meena is on the loose, nobody is safe, either by design or accident. She sets out this smorgasbord of horrific delicacies for everyone to enjoy. It sets in motion this chain of events that affects if not Manpreet directly, she’s not the intended victim but what happens to Manpreet and Charles is a by-product of Meena’s evil machinations. That’s what I can say to that.

Does she have any idea what her sister is capable of?

Rebecca: I think Manpreet so far is blissfully unaware that Meena holds psychopathic tendencies. They’re sisters so they’ve got a history in terms of growing up together and so obviously we have seen and understood that Meena slept with Manpreet’s ex-husband.

Awful though that is, it’s nothing compared to murder, so the cracks are there, the cracks have started to show with Meena’s lack of empathy, which is really quite chilling. It comes out in a very sort of mundane situations, she just does not care. Her MO is winning and coming out on top to the detriment of all others and of course this involves Charles’ character as well. She had the incident where she sent texts to Ethan pretending to be his mother and there’s more to come on that front as well.

What’s it like working with Paige? Do you have fun on set?

Rebecca: A huge amount of fun. We definitely have something akin to a sister relationship. We’re quite protective of each other. We know what each other is thinking. It’s very easy, she gives a lot in terms of her performance so that’s really lovely to bounce off and it’s been very interesting developing the relationship, and with that development comes development for Manpreet. I think the viewers are quite enjoying… Manpreet’s very professional usually, she’s usually very together but Meena can come in and completely discombobulate her. I like how Manpreet can react to this quite childish, sarcastic sister in a bitchy kind of way sometimes. It’s a new angle to Manpreet, which I really enjoy.

We know Charles gets badly injured this week. What can you tease about the water stunts?

Kevin: Yes Charles does get injured. The water stunts were amazing to do. We had to do them numerous times, obviously, for technical reasons and camera angles and stuff. It was fun. It was thrilling.

“They had to dub over when I was shouting for Manpreet because what I was really shouting was ‘mum’! Jokes aside, it was an amazing experience. When we were told that we were doing it, everyone was so pumped up. No fear at all. I was proud of everyone. Everyone teamed together. The cast and crew, they looked after us, they made sure we were warm every time we got out of the water. They looked out for us so we felt safe and we could trust that the stunt was going to be okay.

Was it cold?

Kevin: It was pretty cold. There was a lot of time spent in the water, changing costume, back in the water. There was one time in between shots you had to get in a dinghy which was the right thing to do, but sometimes it was so knackering trying to get into the boat. In the end, I was like: ‘Just leave me in the water!’ It was easier to just float and swim. But yeah, it was good.

How much of your own stunts were you able to do?

Kevin: We did quite a lot, didn’t we Rebecca?

Rebecca: Yeah, we had a fantastic stunt team headed by Crispin and we each had a stunt double and they all obviously, that’s their job…

Kevin: They sort of did a trial run and showed us what we needed to do. They told us: ‘Okay, watch out for that bit, the current is a bit strong here, you might take a bump here’. Just really strongly advised us and tested everything out for us and if it was too dangerous then they’d change it. We had their complete trust and reassurance that we were going to be okay. The guidance was amazing.

Rebecca: “They would also stand in for us for rehearsals for camera angles so we didn’t have to. They were the guinea pigs, really. They deserve a lot of credit. And I think Belinda, my stunt double for a week, deserves an end credit of its own. It was mad, that wig she wore! Belinda, with lovely blonde tresses, puts this straggly black wig on that had a life of its own.

Kevin: It was wild!

Rebecca: They deserve a lot of credit, they really were fantastic.

Kevin: They were amazing.

Are you both strong swimmers?

Rebecca: I think we’re all reasonably strong swimmers. Reasonably fit and able. But the thing is, when we were… swimming doesn’t really come into it when there’s 15 tons of water.

Kevin: The current is so strong that it’s more like survival! It is literally survival. The water is going to take you where it wants to take you, so it’s having the technique of swimming against the current. You needed to swim but you could also stand in it. You had to make sure that you had a lot of strength and you didn’t knacker yourself out. It was exhausting.

Rebecca: At one point we were attached to a rope and towed by a power boat and that was interesting. No swimming involved there, just clinging on for dear life!

Kevin: Yeah, we had to be dragged along to make out that the current was sweeping us. It was like water skiing without the water skis, it was a bit odd!

What’s it been like working together on these dramatic scenes? Have you helped each other through these big stunts?

Kevin: Definitely. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive of one another and we looked out for each other. It was quite nice to bond after the pandemic and everything. We isolated strictly, had lots of tests and checked so that we could all be connected and be in our own Super Soap Week bubble.

Rebecca and I would work out at the hotel in the evening, because we both like to work out and use the gym. It had a decent gym so we’d de-stress doing that. Then we’d just relax in our rooms. But when we were all on set, everyone used to hang out and will each other on. Because it was so tough and I was proud of everybody.

Rebecca how did you find working with Kevin?

Rebecca: It really was great. It was a collaborative experience. The team was working away from home, so that also contributed to the feeling of a shared experience. Not only we were filming together, but we were practically living together as well. Breakfast, lunch, all the work and then you’d get ‘home’ and as Kevin said, we’d probably meet up in the gym that evening. So it was quite intense but I think that creates a sense of camaraderie and also created a bond that can’t help but add a certain something to the performances, I hope.

How did you wind down after filming?

Kevin: Personally I ate and stayed in my room and watched Netflix. I love my own company, I love my own space. It’s great being around everybody but it was nice because one of the hotels had a bath so I was like: ‘Thank you!’ I had a soak, I’d speak to my family and then I’d just relax and watch TV in bed. That’s all I had the energy for at the end of the day really.”

Rebecca: It was full-on days. You’re working away from home so you need to connect with your family. It was very difficult to do that on set. In Leeds, when you’re working in your normal environment, you can quickly get back to your dressing room and send a quick text or have a quick phone call with anyone. But it was incredibly difficult to do that when you’re in the throes of work so intensely.

I would often get back to the room, have a little Zoom meeting with my boys, maybe read them a story. Get back to a sense of normality. But also there was a lot of work to do for the next day and preparation. So it really was quite intense. Because it’s such an ambitious project, we all wanted to bring our A-game to the field. We had to be on it. Not only did we not want to spend more time than we had to in the water, for example, but there was big stuff going on and we had to be on it. Sometimes there’s no second take on these things because everybody was involved so there was a lot of work involved in the evenings.

How excited were you about being part of this big story?

Kevin: I was very… I was surprised, if I’m honest. I felt kind of new. I heard earlier in the year and I was still new at the time. Our executive producer Jane Hudson had a word with me saying: ‘Make sure you set up your annual leave dates around so-and-so a time, because you’re going to be part of Super Soap Week’. I was like: ‘Oh my God’. I couldn’t believe it. As it got closer and closer, I was so excited and raring to go. So when it was being revealed to me what was going to happen and what was expected of us, I was like: ‘Bring it, bring it on’. I was overexcited about it. I’ll do it all.

What can the audience expect from this week of drama?

Rebecca: Several jaw-dropping moments. They’ll be biting their nails in suspense, they’ll be hiding behind a cushion in fear. There’ll be lots of audible gasps I’m sure in all the sitting rooms around the country. It’s incredibly ambitious. There’s so many threads of stories. The threads of stories all sort of come together in some horrific moments. They create their own mini-dramas and it culminates in these huge stunts that we’re teasing. It’s Emmerdale but not as you know it.

Are you looking forward to watching the episodes?

Kevin: I’m looking forward to watching it, totally, definitely. I know cast and crew and everyone involved did an amazing job and it was an amazing effort. To see the outcome I’m excited. We’ve had some feedback from the editing saying how brilliant it is already. So I’ll be glued, I’ll be watching definitely.

Rebecca: Hugely excited. As Kevin said, feedback so far has been good. It’s going to be interesting to see how it’s all put together, how it’s all chopped and edited. I hope we’ll reap the rewards of some real hard work that we’ve all put in as a team.

Emmerdale’s big Super Soap Week kicks off Monday October 18 at 7pm on ITV.

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