Monday, 31 December 2007

Walter Walks Out...

Thank you very much indeed to those who have sent e-mails regarding the Emmerdale '80s quizzes. It's good to know they were enjoyed and there will certainly be more to come. And to take you into 2008, here's a little something to ponder: why did faithful customer Walter (Al Dixon) leave the Woolpack in utter disgust in 1983, the last of Amos and Mr Wilks' regulars to desert the bar?

The answer will follow - in 2008!

UPDATE - 1/1/2008 - The Answer!

This was how things were...

Amos was being his usual difficult self. He wanted to get the Woolpack a glowing review from the Hotten Courier, and he wanted to quell the NY Estates workers, who were in dispute with Alan Turner. They held rather a loud meeting about their industrial strife at the Woolpack and Amos stuck his nose in, siding firmly with Alan. So the NY lads boycotted the Woolpack and other regulars followed suit.

But Walter remained.

Until the night when Amos set peanuts out on the bar (to impress any visiting hostelry reviewers from the Courier) and told Walter they were not for him. He graciously conceded that Walter could have one, and told him off quite fiercely when he caught him taking more.

Walter mulled the situation over, rapped on the bar sharply with his pint pot, and walked out.

"Walter! You can't!" said an aghast Amos. But he could. And he did.

It took a little while for Amos to discover he might be at fault, but an unpleasant experience at the local golf club, where he'd been taken by Alan Turner, set Amos thinking. Slagged off by a frightfully posh Major, who was positively fawned over by Alan, Amos realised that currying favour with this set was not worth it. And he realised who his true friends were.

Amos apologised to the NY Estates men and they returned to the Woolpack...

... as did Walter.

And the Woolpack was restored to its old peculiar normality.

Wishing You A Very Happy New Year!

More from our '80s Beckindale timewarp in 2008.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Ernie Shuttleworth - The Two Faces Of...

Ernie Shuttleworth was, of course, landlord of Beckindale's other hostelry, the Malt Shovel, and a long time rival of Amos Brearly. Ernie was not a regular character in the show, and was originally played by actor John Comer (on the right in the DVD cover illustration above), who also appeared as cafe owner Sid in Last Of The Summer Wine, and as Mr Brandon in I Didn't Know You Cared.

I don't know how many appearances Mr Comer made as Ernie Shuttleworth, but two Emmerdale Farm publications list him in the role - a 1976 special and the 1982 10th Anniversary magazine - although there is a printing error in the 1982 publication and the actor's surname appears as "Corner".

John Comer died in 1984. See his IMDB profile here.

Here's Amos and Ernie Shuttleworth mark II arguing it out at the Woolpack in 1986. Peter Schofield, who was a well-known face on UK TV, made sure that the Shuttleworth/Brearly war of the boozers continued to entertain. Remember him as Joe Dawson, the nasty cafe owner who reported Len Fairclough for not having a loo at his Kabin cafe in 1978? See Mr Schofield's IMDB profile here.

A brief role for Peter Schofield as unloved cafe owner Joe Dawson in Coronation Street.

I enjoyed the Amos/Ernie absurdities in Emmerdale Farm. I've just been revisiting some 1986 episodes with a storyline revolving round a dominoes tournament. Amos and the Peter Schofield era Ernie were at their absolute best, the script was witty, the acting superb and I was greatly entertained.

Happy days in Beckindale.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Ian Sharrock

Back to the '70s - far grimmer and far more stagnant than recent chortlings and hype would have you believe. Thinking back, and reading through '70s newspapers, I always wonder what on earth the BBC was playing at with their I Love 1970s series, as quite a lot of the pop culture featured crops up in the wrong years and, on about eight separate occasions, in the wrong decade! The series mercilessly plundered the 1960s and 1980s. Anyway, here's Ian Sharrock featured in the Sun, December 13, 1975 - about to appear on BBC1 in the pop operetta Smike - previously shown on BBC2.

And here's Ian as Jackie Merrick, at home on the farm, in the 1980s.

1985: Farm Favourite

Daily Mirror, 23 May, 1985:

EastEnders is challenging Emmerdale Farm in the TV ratings. The latest viewing figures reveal that both programmes have between the 12 and 13 million mark, but in the week ending May 12 EastEnders leapt by 200,000. As the cockney soap has been going for only three months compared to the 12 years of their rustic rivals, it's not surprising the BBC are celebrating.

Well, yes. But it should be pointed out that Emmerdale Farm had not had the advantages of the Albert Square drama - loads of costly publicity and a peak viewing time slot across the nation from the outset!

The article also picks up on old Walter - four years after Al Dixon stepped into the role, and the real-life romance and marriage of Clive Hornby and Helen Weir, Pat and Jack Sugden in the serial.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Esholt Discovered

From the Daily Mirror, August 27, 1983:

The original location filming for the village of Beckindale had taken place in Arncliffe, but was re-located to Esholt in 1976. Of course, this meant a new building was needed for exterior shots of the Woolpack, and this was accommodated in the plot with a storyline about subsidence at the old pub, and Amos and Mr Wilks moving to new premises.

Some fans discovered the secret of Beckindale's new location early on, but in August 1983 the cat seemed to be well and truly out of the bag!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Emmerdale '80s Quiz Part 2

Here we go again, folks. Chuck away that ipod and fancy computer, get out your Nik Kershaw cassettes, your Walkman, your ZX Spectrum, your Rubik's Cube and your brick mobile, gel your hair, slam on your shoulder pads, and you're ready for the Emmerdale '80s Quiz, round 2!

1) The opening scenes of this 1989 episode showed an apparently deserted road vehicle (with the radio belting out the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield's hit What Have I Done To Deserve This?), and a pair of feet. What on earth was going on?

2) Here's Eric Pollard making mischief in the '80s. In which year did he arrive?

3) Seth and pal. Name that donkey!

4) Al Dixon was hugely popular as the Woolpack's silent regular Walter in the early-to-mid 1980s. But Walter wasn't Mr Dixon's first silent role in the show. What was it?

5) 1987: gale force winds wreaked havoc, Nokia released its first hand-held mobile phone - the Cityman, and the yuppie dream came unstuck as the Stock Market crashed. The spirit of protest was so strong in Beckindale in 1987 that Jack Sugden got himself arrested! What was going on?

6) All sorts of news in 1989, including the Fall of the Berlin Wall. In Beckindale, this poor woman had a wandering husband that year. What was her name and what was the name of her husband's lover?

7) What was the occasion being celebrated here?

8) Amos Brearly founded a short-lived local newspaper in 1981. What was it called?

9) The Reverend Donald Hinton's daughter had an affair with Joe Sugden in 1983. What was the character's name?

10) Jackie Merrick married Kathy Bates in which year?

11) Yes, it's Ross Kemp pre-Grant Mitchell, playing a role in Emmerdale Farm. What was his character's name - and why was he interested in Dolly?

12) In which year did Mrs Bates begin work as Alan Turner's secretary?

13) Who played Doreen the barmaid?

14) A young Emmerdale Farm actor of the '80s pictured in 1987. Who is he, and which character did he play?

15) Joe Sugden's pal and much more to Sandie Merrick. Name the character and the actor.


1) Jackie Merrick, waiting to shoot a troublesome fox for a bet, had accidentally shot and killed himself. 2) 1986 3) Jenny 4) He appeared in a props photograph as Jacob Sugden, (alongside Sheila Mercier as Annie Sugden). The photograph stood on the farmhouse mantelpiece in the show’s early days. 5) Protests against a proposed nuclear dump near Beckindale. 6) Lynn Whiteley/Rachel Hughes 7) The show’s tenth anniversary in 1982. 8) “The Beckindale Bugle” 9) Barbara Peters 10) 1988 11) Graham Lodsworth - he was Dolly’s son. 12) 1984 13) Sandra Gough 14) Cy Chadwick who played Nick Bates. 15) Phil Pearce, played by Peter Alexander.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

The Emmerdale '80s Quiz Part 1

Stuffed full of turkey, mince pies and nuts? Filled with Christmas cheer or having an attack of the "bah humbugs"? Whatever your state this festive season, whether you've celebrated too much, just enough, or not at all, the first of my Emmerdale '80s quiz sessions is just the breath of good olde English air - from the glorious county of Yorkshire - that you need to shake off that festive fatigue! No prizes, this is just for fun.

1) 1983 - drop that ghetto blaster, stop gawping at the unveiling of the first hand-held mobile phone and answer me this: why was Seth Armstrong demanding money from silent Walter this year?

2) 1982 - deelyboppers, leggings and pixie boots were the fashions, the ZX Spectrum arrived and a long-awaited baby for Matt and Dolly Skilbeck. Can you name him?

3) Annabelle the goat wreaked havoc in 1983 - she even ate Amos' cap. Which central character of the time did she belong to?

4) The World Wide Web, which brought the Internet into all our homes in the 1990s, was invented by Tim Berners Lee in 1989, and over at Emmerdale Farm the man pictured on the right caused a lot of trouble for the Sugdens. Can you name him and the actor who played him?

5) Drama at the vicarage as the Reverend Donald Hinton is held captive by a man with a shotgun. What was the name of the character with the gun?

6) Amos Brearly's new hobby set the village buzzing in 1985. What was it?

7) Meg Armstrong, wife of the legendary Seth, had a pet name for him. What?

8) In which year did Mr Turner first appear?

9) 1985 was the year of the first mobile phone call in England, indeed the whole of Britain, and Eammon Andrews claimed a This Is Your Life victim down on the farm. Who was the person in the limelight?

10) Sam Pearson won a competition prize in 1983 which he shared with his daughter Annie. What was it?


1) Seth left his spectacles on the bar and Walter put his pint pot down on them - smashing them. Seth demanded recompense! 2) Samuel David Skilbeck 3) Pat Sugden 4) Denis Rigg, played by Richard K Franklin. 5) Derek Warner 6) Bee keeping 7) “Poppet” 8) 1982 9) Sheila Mercier 10) A luxury cruise.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

1982: The Latest Craze

Ah, 1982! From the gravity of the Falklands War to the arrival of bonce boppers (or deelyboppers), Channel 4 and the ZX Spectrum, it wasn't a year you could soon forget.

A future star of Emmerdale (not Emmerdale Farm!) is featured here. But she wasn't famous for her acting in the '80s!

Read all about deelyboppers on my '80s blog - here.


Diana Davies

Daily Mirror, 23/5/1985.

Experienced actress Diana Davies arrived on Emmerdale Farm as Mrs Bates, Alan Turner's new secretary, in 1984. Originally, Mrs Bates was not intended to be a major character, but all that soon changed and she gained a christian name - Caroline, a broken marriage and two teenage children - Kathy (Malandra Burrows) and Nick (Cy Chadwick).

Alan Turner and Mrs Bates deal with a problem at the NY Estates Home Farm, Beckindale, office in 1986.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

1988 - Emmerdale Farm's Christmas Milestone...

According to the book Emmerdale - The First Twenty Years, 5 January 1988 was a milestone in the series' history, with the show finally being shown nation-wide at the same time and on the same day! Another 1988 milestone was the broadcasting of episodes without break for the very first time.

The pages above from the Christmas/New Year 1988 TV Times, show the Emmerdale Farm crowd immersed in charades, and a glimpse of some of our final year's festive viewing before the advent of Sky Television in 1989. It was also, of course, the final year of Emmerdale Farm. From November 1989, the show would become Emmerdale.

Sally Knyvette, cult actress from that late '70s and early '80s space-bound series Blake's Seven, was Kate Hughes, the romantic interest for Joe Sugden. The couple would marry in 1989.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Jackie and Sita

From the TV Times, 10-16 August 1985.

Emmerdale Farm was "still enjoying a popularity boom in the ratings". In the storyline, Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock) was having a relationship with young Indian nurse Sita Sharma (Mamta Kash). He met her during his lengthy period of hospitalisation, after he was knocked down by Alan Turner's car.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

1985: Seth Is Topping The Bill

From the Daily Mirror, 23/5/1985:

Stan Richards stands there, in smart grey suit topped by Seth Armstrong's soft woolly cap, screws up his face until his bushy moustache and gummy mouth almost meet up with his eyebrows, and grins gormlessly.

And in an accent as thick as Yorkshire gravy, he jokes: "Nah don't forget, if Mr Turner comes in 'ere tonight charge him extra - remember the beer is 75p a pint!"

The audience in the tiny village hall at Bradfield, not far from Sheffield, roar with delight.

Stan plays two or three dates a week, getting the kind of audience appreciation that would be the envy of many top comedians.

Stan has been Seth Armstrong, Emmerdale's poacher-turned gamekeeper, for eight years.
[BLOG NOTE: spot the newspaper boo-boo here - it was actually seven years at that point].

"I owe a lot to Emmerdale Farm" he says. "I'm playing the same clubs that I used to. Only difference is now they all want to see me."

Monday, 17 December 2007

Amos Brearly Meets Angie Watts

From the Sun, July 28, 1986:

Remember all the charity events of the 1980s? You couldn't turn round without colliding with a sponsored walk, a sponsored silence, a sponsored bean scoff, a telethon, a walkathon, a talkathon, a bonkathon (you should be so lucky), etc, etc. This particular event, part of Soap Aid, seems to have been a bit of a wash-out, but it's good to see Amos (Ronald Magill), Seth (Stan Richards) and Dolly (Jean Rogers) hobnobbing with Angie (Anita Dobson) and 'Chelle (Susan Tully).

More About Toke Townley...

From the TV Times, 3-9 November 1984:

Toke Townley always regretted not becoming an actor earlier in his life. His parents apparently didn't approve of the stage, and he therefore spent many of his early years as an office clerk.

But when Townley died in September, aged 72, he had been acting for 40 years and had found a happy niche late in life as Sam Pearson of "Emmerdale Farm".

It was a role he had played right from the start of the serial, 12 years ago, and though he looked just right as Sam in his countryman's gear, Townley considered himself a "townie" with no special affection for Sam's rural life. He lived in London with no television or hi-fi, preferring the radio or playing one of his collection of flutes and oboes.

The "Emmerdale Farm" cast held Townley in great affection. He makes his last recorded appearance in two weeks' time. Both Townley and the character he created will be sadly missed.

1987 - A Vintage Year...

From the TV Times, 18-24 April 1987. A great year for Emmerdale Farm with the famous storyline about a proposed nuclear waste dump near the village. Excellent. Modern day soap opera doesn't go near issues like this, but in the 1980s the genre broke new ground and the nuclear storyline was a proud moment in the history of Emmerdale Farm.

Protester Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) was arrested and the scene where the villagers gathered as the church bell tolled chilled my blood. First class drama.

Plans for the dump were abandoned.

And to add to the rich storyline brew, there was Eric Pollard, who had arrived on the scene in 1986 and was causing quite a lot of disruption in 1987...
Actor Christopher Chittell knew he was doing a good job as hard, vengeful Eric Pollard in "Emmerdale Farm" when his mother-in-law started calling him less than complimentary names. Pollard has lost his job as auctioneer at Hotton Market for allegedly having his hand in the till. He blames Sandie Merrick (Jane Hutcheson) for telling Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines) that he was a crook.
Says Chittell: "Pollard becomes very poisonous indeed. He's a Jekyll-and-Hyde character, and can become lunatic in his Hyde mood. I went home to Newark the other day and my mother-in-law called me a swine. My wife, Caroline, and two children, Benjamin and Rebecca, have just moved near her from Dartmouth. Now, because of Pollard, she's suggesting we move back again."