Sunday, 10 July 2011

1980: Joe Goes To NY Estates

Matt, Jack and Joe in the Emmerdale Land Rover, 1980.

When Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines) returned to England from his stay in America with Ed Hathersage in the summer of 1980, he found that Jack (Clive Hornby), who had returned in February, appeared to be settling in at the farm.

The purchase of two Friesian cows by Jack had been agreed with Joe via telephone, but he knew they were something that could not have been afforded when he was farm manager.

Jack had bought them out of own money.

Joe had enjoyed running the farm, but the presence of his brother meant that he was no longer in charge. And Jack had very different approaches to farming and the land: Jack was an emotional idealist, Joe a pragmatic, go-ahead farmer who believed that sentiment should not stand in the way of progress.

After a couple of drinking sessions with NY Estates boss Richard Anstey (Carl Rigg), Joe was amazed when Richard offered him the job of manager of the NY farms in Beckindale.

Joe was tempted: NY was go-ahead, heartlessly so, certain people said, and the job would be a challenge...

It would also be a way of breaking free of the faintly uneasy atmosphere at Emmerdale Farm. Who was in charge? And how long would it be before Joe and Jack fell out? Joe discussed things with Annie (Sheila Mercier) and Jack, and decided to take the job.

Annie would never have dreamt of influencing her son's decision either way, but she found his absence from Emmerdale difficult. As did Sam Pearson (Toke Townley), who was also hurt that Joe had not consulted him. But Joe had not wanted to worry his grandfather about something that may not happen. As it was, he handled things quite badly and Sam was upset.

The house was quiet without Joe, but after a few visits from him, Sam and Annie began to perk up.

Trouble at NY - Sergeant MacArthur (Martin Dale) made his first appearance in December 1980, investigating the theft of Christmas trees from the NY Estates plantation.

Meanwhile, at NY Estates, Joe found the closing months of 1980 were certainly interesting: Jack disagreed with NY's decision to tear out an old hedgerow - which led to heated words with Joe, the Estate workers joined the union and gained a 5% pay rise, and Joe put forward the idea of hormone injection trials for the cattle: twelve steers would be tested, six injected with the hormones and six not, then compared after a six month period. Cowman Daniel Hawkins (Alan Starkey), who had been at Home Farm since the days of the Verney family, disagreed with this "unnatural" idea, but the trials began. Only 1981 would tell whether hormone injections for the NY Estates Beckindale cattle were to be impemented on a permanent basis.

Christmas trees were stolen from the NY plantation, and Joe was nearly run over by the thieves' van - Tom Merrick (Edward Peel) and Derek Warner (Freddie Fletcher) were the bad lads behind the theft.

As 1980 ended, Joe seemed to be settling in at NY - fraught though his first few months had been. He had a finger in two pies, still being on the board of Emmerdale Farm Ltd, and the future promised many more challenges.

In 1989, Joe told his mother that Jack had thrown him off the farm in 1980. This wasn't the absolute truth, but there was no doubt that Jack's return to the farm had seriously put Joe's nose out of joint. It is highly unlikely that Joe's move to NY would have happened had Jack stayed away from Emmerdale.

But for Beckindale the move led to lots of fascinating gossip, and for Emmerdale Farm viewers some highly enjoyable storylines.

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