Monday, 7 January 2008

1980-1985 - Changes At Emmerdale Farm...

The folks at Emmerdale Farm in the summer of 1984.

The first half of the '80s saw tremendous change at Emmerdale Farm, with Jack returning from his travels in 1980, and then marrying Pat Merrick in 1982. This meant that Pat and her daughter Sandie moved into the farmhouse. Young Jackie Merrick rebelled against the notion that Jack was his biological father and didn't settle at the farm. The hot-headed lad landed himself in quite a lot of bother, finally ending up living under the watchful eye of the Reverend Donald Hinton at St Mary's Vicarage.

When sister Sandie announced she was pregnant in 1983, Jackie moved into Emmerdale to keep an eye on her - but shortly afterwards she decamped, joining her father Tom in Aberdeen.

Andy Longthorn, the father of Sandie's baby, was beaten up by Jackie Merrick.

Jackie stayed on, working out his difficulties with Jack.

Sandie returned to the farm after the birth of her baby daughter, which she had had adopted.

Seth Armstrong became a very good friend to young Jackie.

Pat found it difficult to settle to a farming way of life at first, but she was soon wading in, helping out in the fields and keeping a pet goat, Annabelle, which wreaked havoc at the farm and in the village.

Jack was getting into a bit of a muddle with the financial side of things, so Annie asked Henry Wilks to take on the role he'd originally envisaged for himself when Emmerdale Farm Ltd was formed - financial manager. Henry agreed.

Why Jack strayed with Karen Moore from Hotten Market was not easy to explain. He'd set himself against the family with an extragavant purchase of cattle to upgrade his Freisian herd, and Karen lent a sympathetic ear to his problems. And one thing led to another...

Finally, Pat followed Jack to Karen's flat and told him: go home with her or never see her again.

Jack went home with Pat.

Joe meanwhile took up a new career at NY Estates in 1980. But life became increasingly fraught under boss Alan Turner, who arrived in 1982. Romance with vicar's daughter Barbara Peters in 1983 brightened things for Joe, but the problems with Alan were not going away. Finally, Joe took up an offer from NY's managing director, Christopher Meadows, to work at the company's beef operation in France. He hoped to make a fresh start there with Barbara, but she broke off their relationship and went to London. Joe left England but would return to live in Beckindale later in the decade.

Poor Joe - romantic good fortune was never his.

For the Skilbecks, there was one tragedy and two happy events: Dolly suffered a miscarriage in 1980, but, happily, a son, Samuel David, was born to the couple in 1982. The Skilbeck family moved into a two-bedroomed extension at Emmerdale.

The Christening of Samuel David Skilbeck in 1983.

Sam Pearson was aging but agile for almost half of the 1980s. His vegetable plot continued to flourish, he enjoyed a gossip with Amos or a spot of competition with Seth and continued to uphold his Christian way of life.

The era held its sorrows and upsets for Sam - he was greatly distressed by Sandie's pregnancy "out of wedlock", and his grandson Joe's affair with Barbara Peters, the Reverend Hinton's married daughter. Sam and the modern world had been at odds for a long time.

But there were many happy times - including a luxury cruise with daughter Annie which he won in a competition.

Sam died in late November 1984. He retired to bed after a very happy evening - an evening of triumph, which saw his pumpkin win first prize at the annual village show.

The next morning, Annie took him a cup of tea up to his bedroom to find he'd passed away in the night. Sam's loss was keenly felt at Emmerdale Farm and in the village of Beckindale.

As the new year of 1985 dawned, the Sugdens and Skilbecks could only wonder what the second half of the decade held in store for them...

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