In this era of social media and storyline teasers, the tragic death of Holly – played by Sophie Powles – was a complete surprise to viewers, making Moira Barton's discovery of her daughter's body even more powerful.
Appearing on ITV's Loose Women on Friday, Emmerdale star Jeff Hordley – who plays Holly's stepdad Cain Dingle – spoke about keeping the storyline secret and the repercussions to come.
"We knew a few months before [the episode]," said Jeff.
As for whether actress Sophie knew Holly would die, he laughed at the question: "Of course she did! She didn't get the script and say, 'Oh, I didn't realise I was dying today.'
"When one of your team goes, we were all gutted. I think Sophie wasn't ever going to stay for too long anyway as she's young, she's a great actress and she wanted to do other things. She was alright about the storyline and wanted to service it properly."
Answering how Emmerdale kept Holly's death so secret, he replied: "Making sure the press office do their job! I think it's good we did that because nowadays there is too much feeding through media or social media. Think back to the great episodes in Coronation Street with Deirdre, Mike and Ken Barlow. We all remember that scene because there were no teasers."
Looking to what happens next, he said Cain's going to struggle with his guilt because of how he treated Holly ahead of her death.
"There is a lot of guilt on his part as he was always pushing her, I think to shock her out of it, saying, 'Once a druggy, always a druggy' and it really backfired in his face and now she's gone. He has to live with that guilt and Moira has the loss of her daughter."
He added: "Addiction is a really important theme to show on television and the way we've done it is really well done."
Jeff had praise for co-star Natalie J Robb, who plays Moira, saying: "She's been amazing. She's had such a journey. I think she's on holiday at the moment which is well deserved as she's been like a wailing banshee for weeks!"
Next up, he says, there is "still the dilemma of Cain and Charity and whether they stay together," saying: "The story team has done such a great job, taking the three of us and doing this love triangle thing. There is a real camp for Cain and Moira, and a real camp for Cain and Charity."
Speaking about actress Emma Atkins, who plays Charity Dingle, he added: "We joined in the same episode together 16 years ago and have been through the same journey in terms of the characters growing up together."
On his character's growth, he said: "It was a natural progression. Cain has aged and got more mature. If he'd carried on as he was, being the maverick in the village, the village would have said, 'Absolute idiot, don't speak to him.'"
As for the future, Jeff said he has no plans to leave the soap again. He initially left Emmerdale in 2006 but returned three years later: "I left to kind of go off and pursue more theatre and other jobs as I'd done five years of drama school then Emmerdale but now I'm so settled with children with my wife [is on the show too] so it seems silly to up sticks and leave. I work with such a great company and I have such a fantastic part ."
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