It may be a small and picturesque Yorkshire village with its roots in farming, but these days Emmerdale breeds far more serial killers than livestock.
The latest resident to resort to murder will be Meena Jutla (Paige Sandhu) who has a murky past, a lack of conscience and – as will soon be revealed – some definite homicidal tendencies.
As fans will discover, there’s currently no one meaner than Meena, as her first victim is soon to learn to their cost. But how can she earn her place in the Emmerdale chamber of horrors alongside the likes of Cameron Murray and Lachlan White? Here’s our indispensable guide for Meena to follow if she wants to become a truly memorable soap murderer…
Rule number one: perfect a psychopathic stare. But the key thing here is that no other character will ever seem to notice that you’re looking at your prey with murderous intent, even when the camera focuses your gaze for a full five seconds at the end of an episode.
So, get popping those eyeballs at every available opportunity and don’t worry about being blatant.
The point of no return
To build anticipation for your first kill, a murderer-in-waiting needs to film a stylish soap promo that has much better production values than a regular episode. Then, in the run-up to the death, ensure that you’ve built up grudges against several well-established – but ultimately dispensable – characters.
Finally, when you go in for the kill, demand that the scene which follows is a joyous one involving a wedding or perhaps a birth. And that, when we eventually cut back to you, there’s blood on your fingers, just to hammer home the message that what you’ve done is truly despicable.
To get the audience really booing and hissing, plant some key evidence on a beloved villager who’s entirely innocent. And don’t worry about the police realising that this an amateurish attempt to frame someone – cops on soaps are clueless and won’t suspect you even if you’re wearing a sandwich board with ‘I Am the Murderer’ written upon it.
As the poor schmuck who you’ve fitted up gets carted off in handcuffs, don’t forget to break out another evil stare. And maybe even a self-satisfied smile. Again, no other character will question why you’re behaving so oddly.
The second murder needs to be gorier
Up the ante with a second slaying that’s far more grotesque than the first. Why get into the murder game in the first place if you’re not going to start revelling in your sick deeds?
Our top tip: bump off a stalwart character who’s been in the show for 20-plus years. This will help generate lots of letters of complaint to Ofcom about the levels of violence on a pre-watershed programme and maybe even an editorial in a broadsheet about soaps becoming ‘too dark’. Note to Emmerdale’s producers: you may have to go onto Lorraine to justify your plotline.
Your partner starts to suspect
This isn’t one you’ll have to worry about for six months because partners are guaranteed to remain oblivious for however long it takes for you to commit at least two murders. But eventually, they are going to work it out and maybe even start working with the police and wearing a wire to entrap you.
To prevent this from happening, bludgeon them and then tell their nearest and dearest that they’ve had to visit a sick relative. A couple of weeks later, you can reveal to the audience that your partner isn’t dead but merely being held captive in a shipping container or remote cottage.
The big showdown
Timing is essential with this one. Exposure of your heinous crimes has to come in the final week of voting for either the British Soap Awards or the National Television Awards. Don’t settle for Christmas – yes, those clever people in Production will be able to do something eerie with carols, but those efforts will be ignored by fans because, at this time of year, all eyes are on Corrie and EastEnders. It’s just the way of things.
If a week of special episodes involving a car crash, shootout or siege are tied in to your undoing, then you’ll know you’ve really hit the big time.
One last fright
Insist on being arrested rather than killed off at the climax to the Big Showdown. That way, you can escape two months later from the prison van when it overturns on a country lane.
We’ve all seen enough Halloween and Saw movies to know that the bogeyman always comes back for one final scare. And your last stand should really be more intimate: preferably a one-on-one confrontation with either your partner or the poor so-and-so you framed months ago.
The best option is for this to be a two-hander episode, but at the very least, there ought to be a jump scare on a Thursday at 7.25pm, so fans have to return at 8.00pm to see how it all pans out.
To live or die?
This is a toughie: do you go out in a blaze of glory or live to fight another day? Expire in spectacular fashion and you’ll probably be featured in Best Of countdowns whenever there’s an Emmerdale anniversary.
Heading to jail, though, comes with risks. Yes, the writers may bring you back at some stage. But they very well may give you an off-screen death in a decade’s time instead. Our advice: recognise when your reign of terror is at an end. Yes, there’s a time to kill, but also a time to die.
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