The Light in the Hall ending explained as the intense Channel 4 drama has fans wondering did Joe really kill Ela?

The Light in the Hall ending finally put all the pieces together to reveal what happened to Ela the day she disappeared...

The Light in the Hall ending explained, starring Joanna Scanlan
(Image credit: Channel 4/PHOTO BY ALISTAIR HEAP)

The Light in the Hall ending delivered powerful performances and a twist that cast a whole new light on the mystery of who killed Ela.

If you loved the emotional intensity of The Pact season 2 ending and were gripped by the twisting journey taken by Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin, then The Light in the Hall should be at the top of your to-watch list. Grieving mother Sharon keeps the light on in her hallway for her daughter Ela, 18 years after gardener Joe was convicted for her murder. Now he's up for parole, Sharon and journalist Cat are determined to get him to tell them where she is and what really happened to her. 

Episodes are airing weekly but all six are also available on All4 now and if you’ve already raced through to the finale you might have a few questions. Here we reveal what happened in The Light in the Hall ending and if Joe really killed Ela…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

Joanna Scanlan in The Light in the Hall

(Image credit: Channel 4/PHOTO BY ALISTAIR HEAP)

What happened in The Light in the Hall ending and who really killed Ela?

The Light in the Hall ending begins 18 years earlier on the day Sharon Roberts’ daughter Ela disappeared. The opening moments showed Ela in the house overhearing her mother and Gafyn arguing and him accusing Sharon of being unfaithful. Accused of having “secret looks” with her friend Dai, Sharon and Gafyn continued to bicker as Ela crept downstairs and was horrified when she learnt that Sharon had been sleeping with Gafyn when Ela’s father was still alive. 

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A hurt and angry Ela called her mother a “sl**”, prompting Sharon to slap her only to regret it instantly. Before she can apologize, Ela leaves the house, crying. In the closing stages of The Light in the Hall ending, after journalist Cat had persuaded Joe to go to the woods with her in the home that memories would come back to him, they finally heard the truth from Ela's secret girlfriend Izzy who he’d found there.

Ela ended up going to Izzy’s house after the argument with Sharon, where her 15-year-old girlfriend made a shocking confession and said that Joe had pulled her up against him and told her he wanted to sleep with her.

Disgusted and determined to stop him from hurting Izzy, Ela had set off for his caravan. Snapping back to the present day where Joe, Cat and Izzy were standing in the woods, the horrified gardener told Izzy that he’d never touched her at all.

Alexandra Roach in The Light in the Hall

(Image credit: Channel 4/PHOTO BY ALISTAIR HEAP)

“I know, I tried to stop her,” she replied in tears, revealing that she’d lied to Ela all those years ago. The Light in the Hall ending then flashed back to show that Ela confronted Joe and threatened him if he touched her girlfriend again. 

In the face of her fury and her hitting him, he’d pushed her, knocking her onto the floor of his caravan where her head began to bleed. Seeing what he’d done, Joe had fled, only she wasn’t dead - as Izzy soon found out. Injured, Ela had made her way out of the caravan to her girlfriend, picking up a knife that was on the side in the caravan. It was then that Izzy admitted that she’d lied and made fun of Ela for believing her “joke”. 

“I thought I could trust you,” a hysterical Ela had responded. “I thought you were the one person I could trust. But you’re just a liar, like everyone else!”

Joanna Scanlan in The Light in the Hall

(Image credit: Channel 4/PHOTO BY ALISTAIR HEAP)

From there the fight had escalated and The Light in the Hall ending saw them exchange insults about each other before Izzy turned on Sharon. Whilst Ela had been deeply hurt by her mum’s behavior, she went to her defense and the fight turned physical as Izzy tried to throw Ela off. 

Using the small knife she’d taken from Joe, Ela had stabbed Izzy in the shoulder before walking off. Her ex-girlfriend had run after her, pushing her down a steep bank in the woods before realizing things had gone dangerously out-of-control. Ela didn’t respond when Izzy called her name and the teenager began to panic when it became clear that she was dead. 

“It was a stupid lie. I was just a silly girl, desperate for attention,” the adult Izzy then told Joe and Cat, as she sat in the woods where it had all happened. 

Joanna Scanlan in The Light in the Hall

(Image credit: Channel 4/PHOTO BY ALISTAIR HEAP)

The gardener was distraught that she’d let him carry on thinking he’d genuinely killed Ela, but the bombshells didn’t stop there. It turned out Izzy had actually wanted to tell the truth but her mum, Nina, and Joe’s father Wyn wouldn’t let her once they knew what had happened. 

As The Light in the Hall ending came to a close, Sharon’s younger daughter Greta married and she, her husband and Sharon all pause for a moment at Ela’s gravestone, upon which were the words, “Beloved Daughter and Sister home at last”. 

And if that hasn’t got you welling up, the final scenes of the Channel 4 drama probably will. Finally, Sharon felt able to turn off the hallway light and met Joe for a coffee. Whilst Cat reflected upon what she’d learnt, with her narration drawing The Light in the Hall to a close by reminding viewers “we all have our own story to tell”. 

Why did Joe think he’d killed Ela? 

Like the matter of who killed Jack in The Pact season 1, thrillers often see one character convinced they’re responsible for a crime, only for it to be revealed that they were in the clear all along. The Light in the Hall is no exception as Joe Pritchard genuinely believed he had killed Ela because he had acted in self-defense and pushed her in his caravan, knocking her unconscious and leaving her on the floor. 

The gardener had fled in a panic and he’s later revealed to be living with dissociative amnesia and struggles to put the pieces together of what really happened. When he and Cat confront Izzy in the woods he has only just remembered that he’d seen Izzy there with Ela that day and that they’d been arguing.

The Light in the Hall cast members

(Image credit: Channel 4)

Did they find Ela’s body?  

As well as the truth about what happened to Ela, what Sharon wanted more than anything was her daughter’s body to be found and returned to her so that the family could mourn properly. She had been desperate for answers from Joe - who had been unable to give her them because it turned out he genuinely didn’t know.

Ultimately, after Izzy admitted the truth to Joe and Cat, it seems that Wyn and Nina were forced to tell police where to look for Ela. As The Light in the Hall ending drew to a close, Sharon and Cat watched as crime scene investigators searched and seemed to indicate that they had found something. Sharon and Greta later look at Ela’s grave, showing she has finally been laid to rest after all this time. 

All episodes of The Light in the Hall are available now on All4 and are also airing on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 4. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.