Monday, 13 October 2008

What's On Your Mind?

The early 1980s: Joe confides in Mr Wilks at The Woolpack.

A lot of e-mails/comments in my absence. There's a few, with answers, here...

"Sandie Merrick" writes:

The feminist fight seems pretty rampant in 80's media. Do you think Annie Sugden was a positive image for women, tied to the Aga all day long? Or, as you're a man, do you think feminism is all a load of clap trap?

As a blokey type bloke I daresay I shouldn't venture an opinion, Sandie, but yes, I think Annie was fine. She was the rock, the person who kept the farm and family together. She was also a prominent figure in Beckindale - with her work as a churchwarden and on the WI.

No, I don't think feminism is a "load of clap trap" - but I must say I think gender issues are far more complex than feminism allows. The biggest influence pushing me towards a traditional working class English male stereotype personality when I was a child was my mother's! What is it they say? "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"!

From Mark:

Your Walter stuff is most excellent. Do you think Geoffrey Hooper and Al Dixon were playing the same character, because they seemed so different?

A friend of mine recently asked me the same question, Mark. Geoffrey Hooper was originally simply an extra in Woolpack scenes, and the production team later decided to name him and bring him forward a little.

I think Geoffrey Hooper's Walter was more of a prop than a character - on-screen for Amos to chunter to. He looked far more ordinary too - he was seen in the background in Woolpack scenes, interacting with other regulars and talking!

Al Dixon's Walter looked strikingly different and was far more prominent and silent. It was in the Al Dixon era (1980-1985) that Walter became a cult. Mr Dixon was actually recruited to play Walter as a character.

Al Dixon's Walter was not recruited to resemble Geoffrey Hooper's version, and producer Anne W Gibbons simply stated that there had been a tradition of having a Walter in The Woolpack. She seemed keen to expand on that tradition and flesh it out. I believe that the two Walters were linked, one based on the tradition established by the other, but not actually intended to be the same person.

I think Walter was a fun gimmick.

For ease of reference, I personally refer to the two Walters as Walter Hooper and Walter Dixon!

These are simply my opinions - but if you watch a Geoffrey Hooper episode of Emmerdale Farm, then an Al Dixon episode, it is evident that Al Dixon was not trying to imitate his predecessor. And Walter was quite a common Christian name amongst elderly men in those days.

From Sara P:

Can we have some more late 1980's stuff on here? Lately you seem to be favouring the first few years!

LOL, Sara! Up until recently comments were telling me I was favouring the last few years of the '80s! Coming up is more info on 1981 and 1982, then I intend to move on up the decade to 1986!

Christopher says:

I'm told Emmerdale was all about sheep in the 1980's. Was it?

No! But there were a lot about. I was watching a 1986 episode whilst eating my dinner a few months back and was not terribly keen to see Matt Skilbeck actually delivering a lamb - in full detail! But '80s Emmerdale Farm was also about Matt and Dolly, and Annie and Sam, and Amos and Mr Wilks, and Walter and Seth, and Archie and Nick, and Alan Turner and Mrs Bates, and Kathy and Jackie, and Sandie and Phil, and Jack and Pat, and Joe and Barbara, and the Rev Donald Hinton and Harry Mowlam, and...

More comments answered very soon! Thanks for all the e-mails!


  1. Anonymous15.10.08

    Hope your feeling better now,

    I should be honest and say that 70´s and 80´s Emmerdale farm ( with the exception of the first series that i have found on dvd is just shadows for me, So i am very happy for this blogg.

    Back when I can remember seeing Emmerdale was in the early 90s and most of the Original cast was gone.

    Seeing the 1972 episodes makes Henry Wilks seem a determinded and " always right" type of person,

    From the descriptions here he does seem to have changed a lot over the years

    Jack Sugden who was a writer and strongly opinionated ( is that a word?)

    There doesnt seem to be a mention about that in modern times ( After all he and Marion Wilks was in huge discussions about that after she found the Book in Frank Blakeys bookshelves in 1972

    Annie Sugden trying to keep her family togheter

    Peggy Skillbeck and her dreams about "beeing where the bright lights are"

    My opinion would be to say , Emmerdale farm , the parts of it ihave seen seems very enjoyable then much of the happenings in "Emmerdale"

    Magnus , Stockholm

  2. I'm glad you're posting again. I like your blog very much! I hope you're better now and have no more hospital stays!

    Kim xx