Crushed by a quad bike that was then struck by lightning during the violent storm that marked Emmerdale’s 50th anniversary last year, Harriet Finch’s death was certainly memorable. It’s something that Katherine Dow Blyton, the actress who played Harriet from 2013 to 2022, looks on with fondness.
‘We had a laugh,’ she told Inside Soap about filming the scenes, which saw Harriet set off on the quad bike into the howling storm in search of Amelia Spencer (Daisy Campbell), who had gone into labour in the middle of nowhere.
Harriet’s literally explosive death was a fitting end for a character who was never far from the drama. She initially arrived in Emmerdale as the new vicar, but a past as an undercover police officer was soon revealed. Other major storylines included a steamy affair with Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) and a horrific showdown against corrupt cop DI Malone (Mark Womack), who tried to rape Dawn (Olivia Bromley). Dawn shot him dead and Harriet, Kim (Claire King) and Will (Dean Andrews) buried the body and covered up the crime.
After such an eventful time on the show it was obviously hard to leave, though Katherine said that the nature of her leaving scenes meant she couldn’t get too emotional.
‘On the actual day I was covered in blood and I had various bits of woodland hanging out of my hair,’ she revealed. ‘We had these industrial wind machines which were literally blowing sand and debris into your eyes. So when it came to it, it wasn’t as emotional because the technicality of what you have to do takes away from the emotion so I managed to get through the day without sobbing.
‘I got three months’ notice that I was being killed. In a way you leave before you physically leave; you say goodbye emotionally because you know it’s coming.’ She added that she’s made ‘friends for life’ on the show and liked to keep up with the latest news.
‘I’m always asking how people are getting on and whether there’s any gossip,’ she shared.
Having been in the show for almost 10 years, Katherine revealed that she needed some to relax before jumping into her next project.
‘I did need to decompress a bit,’ she said. ‘It had been almost 10 years, commuting up from London every week. And I’m not getting any younger, let’s face it! It was the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere, so I needed a bit of time not setting my alarm for 5.30am, to spend time with my dog Dexter and see my friends. I really enjoyed taking a breather and just thinking about what I’m going to do in the future.’
On thing she ruled out was another soap. Having made appearances in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks as well as Emmerdale she reckoned she’d ‘scratched that itch.’
‘I’m kind of throwing my career open to the universe,’ she said. ‘I think I just need to take my foot off the gas and not panic.’
This strategy has led to Katherine’s current role which is in the Leeds Playhouse production of Kay Mellor’s play A Passionate Woman. Katherine plays matriarch Betty in a revival of the play which is dedicated to the memory of Kay Mellor, who died in May 2022.
‘I want to honour her memory by doing the very best I can do,’ Katherine said, adding that she’s still in touch with Kay’s daughter Gaynor Faye who starred alongside her in Emmerdale as Megan Macey.
And Katherine’s former cast-mates have told her they’ll be there to cheer her on.
‘They’ve all booked tickets!’ she said.
A Passionate Woman is at Leeds Playhouse until June 10 2023.
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