Anoymous is interested in the idea that Emmerdale Farm may have become rather "Dallas/Dynastified" in the 1980s. Surely, he/she asks, if Les Dawson was dubbing it "Dallas with dung" in 1984 and the Sunday People "The Dynasty of the Dales" in 1985, this is an indication that the show had gone '80s era American soap style glitzy/sensationalist?
Er, no, not really. You must remember that Les Dawson was a comedian - a champion of the witty remark! Story lines of 1984 included a water shortage, Mrs Bates beginning work at NY Estates and the shooting of her dog for sheep worrying, Amos being annoyed by Ernie Shuttleworth's attempts to put The Woolpack in the shade, and the death of Grandad Sam Pearson
Dallas and Dynasty did make their mark on the English soaps in the 1980s - and, indeed, the Scots soap Take The High Road: Alan Turner, Eric Pollard, Dirty Den and Davie Sneddon, amongst others, were all "bad guy" characters - clearly created on the back of the public's fascination with JR Ewing of Dallas.
But Emmerdale Farm stayed down-to-earth and was, in fact, at times very gritty in the 1980s.
In 1986, Eric Pollard entered the fray and proved to be a long-staying swine. Perhaps he wasn't just a swine, but he was certainly more of one than Alan had ever been and became Emmerdale Farm's enjoyable pantomime villain - deliciously camp, narrowing his eyes (one could almost imagine him twirling his moustache) and going after whatever he wanted, blackmailing, stealing and cheating along the way. Other 1980s villains included the terrifying Harry Mowlam and his sidekick (and later murderer) Derek Warner - far too gritty to be Dallas influenced, and hard hearted businessman Denis Rigg, who perhaps was a little.
So, whilst Emmerdale Farm was certainly influenced by the American soaps, it was actually simply fun to declare it "Dallas with dung" or "The Dynasty of the Dales". Tongues were firmly in cheeks. And when Hilary Kingsley described the character of Angela Channing in Falcon Crest as looking like an "upmarket Annie Sugden - but without the ironing board" I roared with laughter.
Hilary Kingsley also wrote about the "growing wealth and influence" of the Sugden family in 1988, but I'm not sure that this was actually reflected on screen at all. True, Joe worked for NY Estates for a time, but the financial situation at Emmerdale Farm never seemed that brilliant - and in 1989 Joe was talking to his mother about the difficulties of having Jack back living and working at the farm, and the fact that it must be regarded as a business if it was to continue to support the family. The place was undergoing some much needed refurbishment in 1989, after apparently "making do" since the start of the series!
The American soaps tended to have outrageously silly story lines. Remember Blake Carrington and the poisoned paint? Alexis posing as a nun? Pam's dream? The Moldavian Massacre? There were murders, plane crashes, fires and explosions galore.
Emmerdale Farm wasn't like that in the 1980s.
The English farming soap became grittier, the stories a little more explicit, but adultery, a security van robbery, a car accident, an accidental shooting, a couple of burglaries, a murder and a house fire (at Crossgill) can hardly be called OTT when spread over a period of ten years. The infamous badger baiting episodes were a fascinating glimpse into the underbelly of country life.
The soap also took on the issue of nuclear waste - a controversial modern day issue, and dealt with it admirably.
If anything, Emmerdale Farm was far more influenced by the new English soaps of the 1980s - Brookside and EastEnders - than the glossy American fantasy sagas.
We tuned in to see Archie the layabout and activist; Jackie the lovable clot with the disastrous love-life; Annie at her Aga; Matt and Dolly and lots of sheep; Amos, Mr Wilks and Walter at the Woolpack; Mrs Bates and Alan Turner; Seth (and occasionally Meg) Armstrong; and, later, Beckindale's very own Dick Dastardly, Eric Pollard.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Emmerdale has become more influenced by the 1980s era American soaps. Remember the plane crash of 1993? Kim Tate testing to see if her husband Frank was dead with her compact mirror in 1997 - and then pausing to repair her make up before leaving? So camp. Alexis would have been proud! There have been so many disasters - explosions, murders, shootings, rapes, a highly dramatic storm...
And a very bizarre (and ugly) story line about a coffin and a garbage crusher.
Was Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s the "Dynasty of the Dales"? I think this was said in response to some of the increasingly gritty story lines (although it was hardly appropriate to compare Dallas and Dynasty with grittier goings-on in Beckindale!) and mainly in fun. It was very amusing to compare Amos and co to Alexis and co! Certainly, Les Dawson made his "Dallas with dung" statement to make his audience laugh. Creating laughter was his trade.
Was/is Emmerdale in the 1990s and 21st Century the "Dynasty of the Dales"? I would say Definitely - and a whole more! And these days there isn't much dung, either!