Every so often, a soap episode comes along that promises to live with viewers for a long time to come. It hits us so hard in the gut and reminds us of the power that this genre can still deliver.
Even when churning out six episodes a week, Emmerdale knows how to pack a punch when it counts, as tonights Paddy and Chas baby loss episode has once again proved. Ashleys dementia episodes were prime examples as was the devastating trauma of Moira suddenly losing her daughter Holly without warning.
Tonights visit was always going to be a difficult and devastating watch. Ever since the diagnosis that baby Grace would not survive outside of the womb, we have anticipated that this would be an agonising storyline to endure as a viewer.
As fans, we love Paddy and Chas. Bumbling Paddy, yet to have a baby of his own, would make a perfect dad – his relationship with troubled Aaron back in the day got a lad who was on the road to self destruction onto a more fulfilling path. And fierce lioness of a mum Chas, who would do anything to protect her own, is made for motherhood – her previous mistakes and her rectifying of them since are testament to how much they would love Grace.
The pair are kind hearted individuals who have made us both laugh and cry over the years. But tonight, they destroyed us as we felt their immense pain with them.
Emmerdale delivered what was, at times, an almost unbearably heartbreaking half hour of television. There isnt a fan across the land who hasnt been left in a mess by the incredible writing of Paul Roundell, the expert directing of Nickie Lister and the astonishing performances of Lucy Pargeter and Dominic Brunt.
But throughout what was a very tragic visit to the village, there were moments of sublime beauty, characteristic humour and almost hope. The fact that we got to see how this wonderful family would have been as a unit together made the ending all the more unjust and unfair.
Paddy and Chas really deserved this and the hand that has been dealt to them is cruel but a very real reality for many people across the UK.
It was exhausting but it was absolutely powerful to the extent that this would be winning critical acclaim in the 9pm drama slot. And rightfully so.
Soaps are too often underestimated on the kinds of drama they deliver. They have so little turnaround time. But look at what they can do with those limited resources.
Decades after the first episode aired, Emmerdale is pushing boundaries with unforgettably experimental episodes and the type of drama that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
The world can never forget you were here Gracie.
The viewers never will – this powerhouse of an episode is such a triumph that it just wouldnt be possible.
And the too long underrated Lucy and Dominic deserve every ounce of praise inevitably coming their way.