Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Wonderful World Of Amos And Mr Wilks

Arthur Pentelow as Henry Wilks (or should that be Mr Wilks?!) and Ronald Magill as Amos Brearly. These two ran The Woolpack Inn and shared the living accommodation from 1973 to 1991.

Actually there were TWO Woolpacks. The first was declared unsafe due to subsidence in 1976, so the pair relocated to premises elsewhere in the village.

Mr Wilks was a warm hearted retired businessman. Amos was... well... erm... it's not easy to summarise Amos. He was childish. Pompous. Usually rigidly formal. Given to rapid fads and enthusiasms. He was also naive and very good hearted. Underneath it all.

The character of Amos evolved. When he became Beckindale correspondent on the Hotten Courier, he puffed himself up like a peacock. But it took until the early 1980s before the character was refined and honed to perfection. Watch any 1970s episode of Emmerdale Farm, and I think you might agree that Amos was quieter, more restrained and dour than in the 1980s - when he was gloriously potty, pursuing fad after fad in quick succession, bridling at Mr Wilks' attempts to bring him down to earth and generally being a wonderful nuisance.

1980 was an absolutely pivotal year for the Amos character - with Seth Armstrong leaving The Malt Shovel bar to become a regular at The Woolpack, and Al Dixon joining the cast as Walter, Amos became more animated, fad-ridden and bizarre than ever before!

The '80s were a truly splendid era during which Amos and Mr Wilks story lines abounded, as the show became an all-year-round soap.

Do you remember the time when Amos got into transcendental meditation? The time he went "upwardly mobile" and took up golf with Alan Turner? The time he turned to bee keeping? The time he baked a cake? The time he was cursed by a gypsy? The time...

If all these sound like Amos-only story lines, rest assured that Mr Wilks was always there, advising, trying to moderate his friend's behaviour, and generally suffering!

Fortunately, Mr Wilks had friends elsewhere or he would, no doubt, have gone insane!

Amos and Mr Wilks have a disagreement in 1980...

... and they're still at in 1989. Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) looks on.

A pain in the neck to Amos was one of his best 1980s customers and arch enemy, Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards). How he loved to wind the big key in Amos' back! In 1980, Amos commented disapprovingly on Seth's loyalty to the Malt Shovel. Seth was just becoming established as a regular character back then, having first appeared in a few episodes in 1978. From 1980 onwards, Seth switched to The Woolpack, and absolutely loved to get under Amos' skin! Remember the time he booked two strippers (and a python!) to perform at The Woolpack - much to Amos' horror? Amos ordered them out and the pub was wrecked by irate customers!

Seth holding court at The Woolpack in 1983. Walter (Al Dixon) says nowt and concentrates on his ale. Al Dixon first appeared as the silent bar propper in September 1980.

Seth and pal.

"Sunday People", June 9, 1985. Apparently Jenny the donkey's braying could sometimes be heard when the "Emmerdale Farm" crew were attempting to film in Esholt - so it was decided to bring her into the story!

Joint Pipe Smokers Of The Year, 1986.

Picture the scene: it's 1980 and only 5% of UK households have video recorders. In fact, video technology had been around for yonks, but domestic players and recorders only a few years and they were highly expensive. So, unable to tape your favourite shows to keep and keep again, you bought novels of all the storylines.
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Shadows From The Past, by Lee Mackenzie, was the 10th Emmerdale Farm novel (there would be many more) and was published in 1980. The author was excellent at bringing Amos and Mr Wilks to life on paper. Here, Amos has been awakened by a strange noise, and goes to investigate. Mr Wilks, disturbed by Amos' movements, follows and demands an explanation...
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"There was somebody here. I heard him."
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"Heard what?"
.
I heard a... There was a... A sound."
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"You probably woke yourself with your own snoring, Amos."
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"I do not snore, Mr Wilks," said his partner, offended.
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"How do you know if you don't? Have you ever stayed awake to listen?"
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"How could I stay awake and..." Amos realised his leg was being pulled. "I'm serious, Mr Wilks. Someone is in the Woolpack."
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"Rubbish."
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"I tell you I heard a sort of a thud -"
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"A sickening thud?"
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"Eh?" Amos read very little and knew nothing about well-worn cliches from the thrillers of bygone years. "It was more of a... chunk."
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"A chunk of what?"
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"A sound like a chunk. Like this." Amos picked up a jug from the top of the fridge and put it down on the metal top. "Like that, only louder."
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"It was something falling over."
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"What, then?" Amos waved a hand. "Nothing's fallen over."
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"Aye," Henry said, rather dry. "Everythings just as usual."
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"In here." Amos agreed. "But who knows where else he's been? He suddenly clutched his dressing-gown in the region of his heart. "The till!" he cried.
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He rushed out into the bar. Henry followed, much more slowly. Accustomed as he was to Amos' funny ways, this amused him only a little. As a man approaches the golden years, he needs his sleep.
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Amos went to the till, rang up 'no sale' and found the money still there. It's to be understood that this money wasn't the whole day's takings. Those were upstairs under lock and key in a box below Amos' bed. The money in the till was a peace-offering to any burglar who might get in: Amos reasoned that if a man got something, he wouldn't creep upstairs and murder you in your bed.
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He had a low opinion of how much a burglar would be satisfied with. Nevertheless the one pound note, one fifty pence piece, and four twopence pieces were still there.
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"You see?" Henry said. "Nobody's got in. If they had, they'd have taken that."
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Amos was shaken. Then he said, "I disturbed him at it. That's what it is! The chunk I heard - that was the till being pushed shut."
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"Funny sort of burglar who bothers to close the till when he's disturbed," Henry rejoined, rubbing the back of his neck and stifling a yawn. "Come on, Amos, let's get back to bed."
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"Nay, Mr Wilks, I tell thee - someone's been in here. I can feel it."
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"Clairvoyant, are you?"
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"Mr Wilks, I'm C of E as well you know..."
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Excellent stuff - and the best was yet to come!


2 comments:

  1. Anonymous5.12.11

    Lovely website, brought back lots of memories xx more wanted on the Butterworth Ball please xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Beckindale's cricket season draws to a close this September with the annual match against Robblesfield for the Butterworth Ball. This is probably the most important ball of all. We have been playing Robblesfield for the trophy since 1903, and the Butterworth Ball has held pride of place at the well-known and much frequented Woolpack Inn in Beckindale, on the shelf where I keep the tomato juices.

    After a long run of bad luck from 1961 to 1967, when the partnership of Eccky Tait and Bob Marly as openers seemed invincible, Beckindale managed to catch up with the opposition and take the lead. Of the seventy-seven matches we have now played, the score now stands at Beckindale 39, Robblesfield 38. So this year's match is very important if the ball is going to stay in its place behind my bar. Brearly expects that every man will do his duty, especially Sam Pearson as Umpire."

    Quote from Amos Brearly, Hotten Courier, September 1980. So glad you like the Bugle!

    ReplyDelete