Emmerdale dropped the first hint of its tragic death storyline three months ago – but the unexpected cast exit still took fans by surprise.
The long-running soap’s New Year’s Day episode featured the final appearance of Bob Hope’s teenage son Heath, who lost his life in a car accident.
Heath was travelling to a party with his twin sister Cathy and their friend Angelica King when tragedy struck on the road.
Sebastian Dowling, who played Heath since the character was a newborn baby in 2007, has now left the show after filming his final scenes late last year.
Although fans weren’t expecting a New Year death, show bosses had hinted at a mystery tragedy in teaser quotes published in October 2023.
Speaking to 4yardsmedia and other media at the time, producer Laura Shaw warned: “We’ve got tragedy striking one family in the new year.”
Shaw elaborated further in another interview the following month.
She said: “There’s going to be tragedy in the village in January that’s going to affect two of our most-loved families.
“It’s ultimately going to tear friendships apart and change the dynamics of one of those families forever.”
At the time, Shaw had also tipped Bob and Cathy as ones to watch in 2024.
She said: “Bob and Cathy’s relationship is going to be tested to the max. We’re going to see something happen that’s going to push them to the extreme.
“They’re going to hit rock bottom when this happens. Is it going to tear them apart or will it pull them together? We’ll see how that plays out.”
Monday’s episode ended with Bob bitterly blaming Cathy for the accident and the emotional fallout will continue across the coming days and weeks.
Emmerdale airs on weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV1, and streams on ITVX.