Yep, there's no doubt that Emmerdale Farm got a little racier in the mid-1980s, so much so that its creator, Kevin Laffan, ceased to write for it. '80s Emmerdale seems very peaceful indeed compared to current day soap storylines, but did the show back then really have a JR-type character? And was it really Alan Turner?!!
"I'm afraid as Turner becomes more of a bully and extra bumptious, his character is beginning to take me over," - Richard Thorp, 1985.
1986: Mrs Bates (Diana Davies) smiles to herself in the office at Home Farm. She made her debut as Alan's "temp" secretary in 1984.
Alan looks very pleased with himself.
Alan had arrived at the NY Estates outpost in Beckindale in 1982 and was not a very pleasant character at first - not exactly a JR, but still not the sort of person you'd want to work for. He was a bully - and he'd shift blame from himself and happily drop an underling in the proverbial to save his own skin. But within a few short years he'd become a lovable oaf - cowardly, into self preservation at almost any cost, but basically not really a bad guy. And his scenes with Mrs Bates, who understood him very well but always managed to hide her amusement, were often an absolute delight...
... as were his scenes with Seth Armstrong, NY gamekeeper and permanent thorn in Alan's side.
Perhaps the change in Alan's character had something to do with the way Richard Thorp portrayed him. Larry Hagman gave JR one of his most striking habits: just when we thought he was down, when bad news had been delivered, an apparently knock-out blow, ole JR would not frown - he'd grin evilly and bounce right back. When Alan Turner smiled I couldn't help feeling that there was something genial and rather charming behind all the bullying and bluster. And gradually this seems to have been reflected in the way the Alan Turner character was written. By 1986, he wasn't considered Beckindale's JR by anybody I knew. Just a daft twit many of us enjoyed watching immensely and were actually rather fond of.
Many of his 1980s scenes in the NY Estates office with Mrs Bates are pure Emmerdale gold.