Saturday, 12 January 2008

Meg Armstrong

That well known Beckindale poacher-turned-gamekeeper Seth Armstrong lived in Demdyke Row, and was married to long suffering Meg.

I don’t know when Meg first appeared, but I note that in episodes I have on DVD from 1980 and 1983 she was played by Ursula Camm. Meg was a practical, down-to-earth Yorkshire woman, faintly down-trodden, but always dutiful when it came to Seth - whose idea of heaven came in a pint pot at the Woolpack bar.

Meanwhile, Meg would be keeping his tea warm in the oven and sitting home alone watching the telly.

In 1983, Meg could take no more and Seth was rattled by her sudden demands that he appreciate her a little more and treat her a little better. So rattled was Seth that he even attended church with Meg one Sunday.

A fine sermon on marriage from the Rev Hinton had no impact at all. Having attended church for Meg, Seth considered his duty done, and was shocked when Meg gave him a ultimatum in front of the assembled regulars in the Woolpack: either go home with her for his dinner, or she’d FINISHED with him - he’d be locked out.

Seth called Meg’s bluff and ended up sleeping rough for several nights, cadging breakfasts from Annie Sugden up at Emmerdale Farm. Finally, a dressing-down from stand-in vicar Edward Ruskin, Beckindale’s permanent vicar some years before, persuaded Seth to take stock. He took Meg a bottle of something nice home and peace was declared, although Meg also declared the end of her doormat existence by taking a holiday abroad with a friend.

The next encounter with Meg in my Emmerdale Farm DVD collection occurred in 1986 when Amos and Mr Wilks took her on to clean and help out behind the bar at the Woolpack. This Meg was a different woman - literally. Actress Ruth Holden, formerly Ena Sharples’ daughter, the down-trodden Vera Lomax in Coronation Street, stepped into the role.

Meg’s character changed too - she was jolly, but bossy, obsessed with cleanliness and her Christian faith. This Meg shocked Woolpack regulars by putting no smoking request notices on the pub tables and sometimes refusing to serve them drinks if she thought they were drinking too quickly. She also called a halt to the dominoes tournament with the Malt Shovel when things got acrimonious (thanks to Seth cheating, it later turned out).

Best of all, she called Seth “poppet”!

Obviously, she couldn’t stay at the Woolpack: she washed Mr Wilk’s best pipe, absolutely ruining it, and made the place smell terrible with her various cleaning concoctions, containing such fragrant delights as spirit of camphor and ammonia!

Amos was too scared of her to ask her to leave but after the dominoes debacle Meg took matters into her own hands and resigned!

"That's quite enough out of you, poppet!"
Meg Armstrong appeared only rarely in the Emmerdale saga. The character died in 1993.
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