Emmerdale fans will soon see the last of Gillian Kearney, who plays soap baddie Emma Barton. Her character is set to make a dramatic exit from the ITV show later this year when her contract comes to an end. An Emmerdale spokesperson revealed that Gillian, 45, was due to leave in May but she agreed to stay on to play out her final storyline.
"Gillian Kearney was intending to leave Emmerdale in May 2017," the spokesperson told RadioTimes.com. "We asked her to extend her contract to play the last chapter of Emma Barton's story. Gillian was happy to stay with the programme to the end of the year in the knowledge she would be involved in a major storyline this autumn."
Gillian Kearney plays soap baddie Emma Barton
Meanwhile, The Sun reports that Gillian's character Emma will meet a grisly end, which fans may not be totally averse to after she caused a multi-car pile-up that killed her ex-husband James. A source said: "The writers were looking for their big summer story and they decided Emma would be at the centre of it. They felt there had to be retribution for all the trouble she's caused. They are going to be writing in more devious storylines for her and building her into a complete psycho." The source went on to say that Gillian had a discussion to see if show bosses would leave the door open for Emma, but "they wanted a dramatic death".
The actress, 45, is leaving at the end of the year
Other big names to exit the soap in the past year include Kelvin Fletcher, Bill Thomas and John Middleton. John played dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas, who Emma cruelly toyed with. Last month viewers bid farewell to Ashley, who dies just a few days after being diagnosed with pneumonia. During an appearance on This Morning, John said that his final scenes were "an extraordinary thing to film," adding: "The atmosphere on set was amazing… You could have heard a pin drop. The team really wanted to finish the story well."