There’s murder and mayhem in Emmerdale next week as Ellis and Priya’s 'Survival Challenge' lives up to its name.
Nutty nurse Meena Jutla, who has already killed teenager Leanna Cavanagh, plans to use the event to see off Victoria Sugden, whom she overhears boyfriend David Metcalfe declaring his love for.
As Victoria is thrown off a raft into white water rapids, Meena strikes and holds the chef under the water, only to realise that someone is watching from afar.
Wanting to find out just what the observer has seen, she follows them into the finishing point of the challenge - a maize maze - and is ready to do whatever it takes to keep them quiet.
Actress Paige Sandhu talks about Meena’s murderous plot, and shares her experience of filming the epic scenes, which are part of ITV’s ‘Super Soap Week.’
Meena wants Victoria out of the way. What does she have planned?
Meena doesn’t like Victoria as she’s so meddlesome and won't leave David alone. When Meena finds out they’re in love, it triggers something in her. Meena doesn’t set out to kill for the thrill. Even though she does enjoy it, she doesn’t need to kill for the excitement. However, when it comes to someone standing in the way of what she wants, she will kill.
She tampers with Victoria’s abseiling pack, and is really excited to start the survival challenge because she gets to watch Victoria die. Plus, she wants to see David suffer because he’s essentially cheated on her, and seeing Victoria die will do just that. Her number one priority is to get rid of Victoria any way she can, so Victoria is in a lot of trouble.
During the challenge, Meena holds Victoria down in the water. What can you tell us about those scenes?
There is a sequence where Meena holds Victoria down in the water to drown her. We filmed them in a waterfall at a special watercourse place, and it took two days. We were spending all day in the water but it was so much fun and so fulfilling. I loved the surroundings, it was so beautiful. The second day was really cold so everyone was shivering, especially Isabel (Hodgins) who plays Victoria and her stunt double, as they were in the water much longer.
Did you have your own stunt double?
I had a few stunt doubles. In fact, one was a man, and he was quite a tall man, too. He had to wear a brown wig with plaits in! It was strange to see this tall man walking around, half looking like me. When we were doing white water rafting, the cast did it on a green screen, but the stunt doubles did it for real in the river. It was great to see them working.
Once again, Meena is at the centre of all the drama. Do you enjoy playing her?
I really love playing Meena. She’s a dream part, and I love playing on the fact that she’s a psychopath and she doesn’t feel emotions the way the rest of us do. I’ve loved figuring that out, doing the research into it, and understanding what that would feel like.
Also, I love her relationship with Manpreet as there’s a lot of history between them; they’ve got a really interesting relationship. It’s interesting that she’s not able to feel love for people, but the one person she can feel any semblance of love for is Manpreet. It’s fun to dive into that and to go to these places that you wouldn’t ever do in normal life. Murdering someone, murdering someone without feeling any guilt, doing everything you can to get what you want.
The manipulation is a fun thing to play, and the fact that she’s constantly wearing a mask. The only time that mask is taken down completely is when she’s about to murder someone, and then the victim gets to see the real Meena.
How does it feel to be involved in such an ambitious week of drama?
It’s a dream come true. It’s so much fun - the stunts, travelling to the different locations, the well-written scenes, all the different aspects involved, the cast.
Everyone’s been mucking in and enjoying it. They’re long days, and difficult terrain makes it difficult for the crew, but because it’s so different from our usual day-to-day, everyone has really enjoyed it and been grateful for the chance to be involved.
Also, for over a year, we’ve had to be two metres apart, but because we’ve isolated and created a bubble, we’ve been able to be near each other. It’s been incredible. I got to hug Rebecca (Sarker, who plays Manpreet) for the first time ever, so that was really nice as well.
Do you enjoy filming action scenes like these?
I absolutely love it. It has been my favourite time on Emmerdale so far and I think that has been the general consensus with all the cast and crew. Everybody was just really sad to be returning to normal filming as it's been the most special, incredible, fun, amazing time ever. Everyone has brought their A game and we have all just been really grateful to be a part of it.
I’m looking forward to seeing it. I don't generally like to watch myself, but because the stunts are so incredible and we've had all the fancy camera equipment, I think it is hopefully going to be epic Emmerdale. From the clips I've seen so far, it's going to be cool and exciting.
There are many twists and turns during the week, but the first thing the audience will see is Meena lying motionless in a maize maze. Will she find herself in danger?
Through all of the carnage that happens, Meena could find herself in mortal danger. She’s so caught up in her plan and enjoying the kill that she may find herself caught up in a situation where she could potentially die...
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When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.