Friday, 14 December 2007

The History Of Grandad Pearson...

Photograph by Harold Hanscomb

This young actor is Toke Townley - appearing as Willie the houseboy in the 1952 John Paddy Carstairs film comedy Treasure Hunt. The blurb on the back of the original print informs us that Toke was then a "newcomer to the screen". Toke played both the flute and the recorder, and his talents were sometimes made use of on-screen....

... as seen here in this early 1980s scene from Emmerdale Farm. Toke's role as Grandad Sam Pearson evolved, as is the way with most soap characters - the Sam Pearson who first appeared in 1972 was not of quite the same temperament as the Sam Pearson of a couple of years later.
.
The opposite of confirmed son-of-the-soil Sam, Toke had no love for the country life, but his playing of the character was utterly convincing. Sometimes testy, sometimes downright grumpy, Sam was a strongly religious man who cared deeply for his family. The materialisatic and promiscuous ways of the modern world were beyond his understanding.
.
In the early 1980s, the character was put to excellent use as Anne W Gibbons increased the regular cast and the household at Emmerdale Farm expanded, with the additions of Jack's new wife, Pat, and newly discovered son, Jackie, and Pat's daughter, Sandie.
.
To see Sam confronting the modern ways the incomers brought with them - including one memorable scene featuring fish fingers - added further interest to the character. Grandad Pearson was never boring!
.
Sam was deeply distressed when young Sandie became pregnant out of wedlock and was not backwards in speaking up, but he did not act out of unkindness, rather concern for Sandie and his fears about the way the world was going.
.
Grandad Pearson entertains at the Beckindale Christmas Show, 1983.
.
Sam remained an integral part of the Beckindale community until 1984 when Toke Townley died. His final appearance on screen was in November of that year. Sam's final storyline involved his pumpkin winning first prize in the village's annual show, so the character had an upbeat ending.
.
In 1985, Richard Handford, the producer of Emmerdale Farm, paid tribute to Toke:
.
"He was a very special member of the cast and we still miss him. On his own admission he was a loner. He spent most of his life living out of suitcases and he didn't really have a home; he preferred to live in a hotel. He was quite happy in his own company, yet he was a very sociable man. Toke was the one who knew the christian names of every commissionaire and canteen lady at Yorkshire Television.
.
"And when I went to an expensive restaurant in Leeds recently, I discovered he'd been on first name terms with all the waiters and waitresses there as well.
.
"Toke lived a simple life. He didn't drink or smoke and his main relaxation was music.
.
"He was very good company and a true professional. There was no question of finding another actor to play Sam Pearson. Toke Townley was irreplaceable."


No comments:

Post a Comment