Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Remember This Is Emmerdale Farm In The 1980s - Not Emmerdale In 2009!

I've just had a somewhat perturbed e-mail from Mel asking why there is no material about Charlie Hardwick on this blog? The answer, Mel, is revealed in the blog's header - the subject is Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s, when Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill) and Henry Wilks (Arthur Pentelow) owned The Woolpack, not Emmerdale today!

There's plenty of on-line stuff about Emmerdale if you take a look around the Web.

1981: A Quickie Quiz Starring Walter, Amos Brearly And?

Paul has written to say that I haven't mentioned Al Dixon's Walter (1980-1985) for a while. Thanks, Paul - that won't do at all! Here's a Quickie Quiz featuring Walter - no prizes, just a bit of fun!

In late 1981, Walter was left knocking at The Woolpack as the pub remained closed at Opening Time. Highly puzzled, and persistent, Walter knocked and knocked and knocked...

Then another customer arrived - a man who was an infrequent visitor to Beckindale. He sounded his van horn, which was rather loud, to say the least...

... alerting Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill), who was busy painting the cellar to the strains of Gilbert And Sullivan's With Cat Like Tread on the radio, to the fact that Opening Time was past...

Missing Opening Time was something Amos never thought he'd do, but he was entering The Woolpack in the brewery's "Best Kept Cellar" competition, and, terribly keen to win, had been quite engrossed in his task.

Amos reprimanded Walter for rapping on the pub door so persistently and was not best pleased to see the man who had been making such a noise on his van's horn...

Here's the Quickie Quiz:

Can you tell, from looking at the middle photograph featured in this post, who the man in the van was?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Judy Westrop And Alan Turner...

Judy Westrop (Jane Cussons) - a signed photograph from 1980.

Two former inhabitants of Home Farm are the subject of e-mail enquiries this week.

Jez asks:

Did Judy Westrop ever return to the show?

Not as far as I know, Jez. Judy departed in the summer of 1980, and Beckindale saw no more of her. After a brief word of explanation from Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) about Judy's whereabouts (she had relocated to take up a new job) I don't think that she was ever mentioned again.

However, Judy's father, Maurice (Edward Dentith), who had departed from Beckindale in May 1980, was mentioned again. Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) criticised him and Richard Anstey (Carl Rigg), his predecessors as NY Beckindale managers, for not having the Turner drive and spark in 1982.

And that brings us neatly on to our second e-mail enquiry - this time from Brian:

Was Alan Turner really a swine right from the beginning?

Not really, Brian. In 1982, Alan seemed a bit of a silver-tongued, faintly devious smoothy. There were problems for Joe (Frazer Hines) as farm manager, particularly when cattle at Emmerdale stampeded after a helicopter spraying crops for NY flew too low - but this occurred because Joe had asked the pilot to spray some Emmerdale land as a favour - and was mainly due to a breakdown in communication between Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) and Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby). The cows were in the wrong field.

Alan blamed Joe for the incident - and, I think, he had a point. Doing favours for other farmers in this way could be risky, and Alan was furious when NY ended up paying Emmerdale compensation for the accident.

Another bone of contention was an area of land known by Henry Wilks (Arthur Pentelow) as "Primrose Dingle". Builders dumping debris here upset Mr Wilks, but it turned out that they were doing so under contract - a contract drawn up by Joe before Alan Turner arrived. However, the contract was for six weeks and the builders had well exceeded this - whilst Joe had simply stood by and let them.

Pat Sugden (Helen Weir), working as a clerk at NY briefly, was startled to see a steely side to Alan's nature when he criticised Joe to Head Office on the phone. Joe felt completely unsupported by Alan, and believed that Mr T was simply out for himself.

I certainly wouldn't call Alan a "nice" character in 1982, but there was far worse (and far better) to come. Things really began to get interesting when Alan brought home a young woman to Home Farm for a one night stand in early 1983 and we began to see his boozy, lecherous side. By the end of that year, we'd seen more of his deviousness, heard more of his silver tongue, and found the guy could be completely unfair and quite ruthless.

But we'd also seen sadness and vulnerability. And Richard Thorp's famous twinkle, beaming out from a face which, it seemed, couldn't possibly bear anybody any ill will, had begun to make us warm to the character.

Plus, the comic encounters with Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) were well and truly kicking in.

And then, in 1984, came Mrs Bates (Diana Davies).

To sum up, Brian, I would say that Alan Turner's "JR" tag from 1982 until midway through the decade was a tremendous exaggeration.

But you'll be able to judge for yourself. We've got lots more Mr Turner material planned for the Bugle.

Thanks for writing.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

1982: Ashes To Ashes

"Eighteen going on eight," was how my mother once described Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock).

It was late 1982 when Jackie Merrick torched the NY Estates caravan where he had lived since 1980.

Jackie was a troubled teen. Fashion-wise he was a disaster in those early years - several comments here have claimed that in real life he would have been ragged unmercifully by his mates for wearing out-dated clothes, and I think they may have a point. Some people have also pointed out that it was easy to see that actor Ian Sharrock was years older than Jackie as no self-respecting teen would have been seen dead looking like that - particularly by millions of people on television!

But in some ways it was fitting. Jackie was not the brightest lad in Beckindale, and since his mother had walked out on his "father", Tom, in 1980, his world had been turned upside-down. Bedding down into a job as Seth Armstrong's assistant at NY Estates was one of the best things to happen when he left school in 1981, but that was threatened when Jack (Clive Hornby) blurted out that he was Jackie's real father later in the year.

The resulting tumult, with Tom Merrick (Edward Peel) also having to come to terms with the fact, spilled over into 1982 and led Jackie to consider running away.

Things settled down, and Sandie (Jane Hutcheson) persuaded Jackie to make the run-up to Pat's wedding to Jack as happy as possible, and to attend the wedding with a smile on his face. Jackie did well, but after the briefest of stays at Emmerdale Farm whilst Pat and Jack enjoyed a couple of days away on their honeymoon, he moved back into the NY caravan that he'd occupied with his mother and half-sister since late 1980. The reason was a falling-out with Jack.

When Jackie turned eighteen in late 1982, Jack bought him a new gadget - a personal stereo. Pat (Helen Weir) thought the gift was a little OTT - they did seem posh and new-fangled in those days. Jackie was actually quite pleased with the gift, but kept a sullen upper lip.

The return of Jackie's old mate, Graham Jelks (Richard Tolan), on leave from the Army, and Graham's attempts to persuade Jackie to enlist, led the lad to the recruiting office.

There had been changes at NY Estates. The arrival of Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) as Beckindale manager in March 1982 had caused various headaches for Jackie. Despite protestations from Jackie's immediate boss, Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards), Alan would insist on Jackie being taken away from his primary tasks to do general labouring whenever the occasion demanded.

Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines), as farm manager, tried to smooth things out, but he was fighting a losing battle with Alan.

The crunch came when a shooting party on NY land, set up to impress a business contact of the company, turned out disappointingly. There were hardly any birds to shoot at. Jackie was in charge of the shoot and, due to his being frequently re-assigned to labouring tasks, plus a tendency to skive off and stand around yakking, had not prepared things properly.

Alan was furious and gave Jackie the sack.

Shortly before this, Jackie had heard he'd been accepted for the Army. Pat was convinced he didn't really want to go, and he certainly didn't seem happy at the prospect.

But then he rarely seemed happy at anything.

Having been sacked by Mr Turner, Jackie bought some beer and got drunk. He ranted to Sandie about the family's changing fortunes since 1980, declared the caravan a dump, and then torched it.

Sandie had been experiencing problems of her own. A couple of dates with the local vet (a man in his mid-20s!) had earned the 17-year-old girl the nickname "randy Sandie" at school. And now Andy Longthorn (Mark Botham) was once again looming large in her life. As the caravan blazed, she could only stare, horrified and scared out of her wits...

And Jackie certainly wasn't going into the Army now. He was in trouble.

Serious trouble.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

1981: Break-In At Emmerdale Farm

When Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) took the best tea service and placed it on the dresser, ready for a wash as part of spring cleaning, she had no idea that this would bring about the end of a treasured possession for Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier).

There had been a spate of burglaries in the district. And, late that night, the burglar came to Emmerdale Farm...

... and, once inside, began seeking valuables - as burglars tend to do.

Upstairs in the attic bedroom, Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) was restless, worried over a poorly ewe in the barn. He told Dolly he would go out to check on her, but Dolly advised not - it was best to get some sleep, he'd only disturb the ewe. Suddenly, there came a crash from downstairs! The clumsy burglar had managed to knock the tea service from the dresser to the floor as he probed around by the light of his torch.

Matt dashed downstairs, to find the burglar gone, the door wide open, and the shattered tea service all over the floor.

Sergeant MacArthur (Martin Dale) informed Matt and Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) that although the door lock was strong, the wood around it was weak. There was no point in having a good lock if the surround was like plywood. And wasn't it a bit daft to keep the sheep dogs, Nell and Snip, in the buildings at the back of the farm?

Matt and Jack took the lecture quietly, although Jack later told Matt that he didn't like Sergeant MacArthur very much at all.

The next day, in the farmhouse, Dolly and Annie chatted. Annie was distressed over the loss of the tea service.

"It were a wedding present. I 'ad an aunt, lived in Richmond. We never saw 'er from one year's end to the next. But she turned up at the wedding with this present. It was good china, too - not the sort of present you expected in them days. You never knew Jacob, did you, lass? But you know things weren't always what they might have been between us. But there were good times - especially at the beginning. It was a marvellous wedding. Everybody singing and laughing and joking and folk all pleased to be with each other. Jacob had one too many, of course. But in them days he knew how to make folk laugh. And how to make folk love him... Somehow this china seems to stand for all that was good between Jacob and me..."

Matt was inducting Snip, a new sheepdog, at Emmerdale and one day, shortly after the burglary, Snip ran out into the road near the farm and was run over and killed by a speeding red Escort car.

Matt contacted the police.

Meanwhile, young Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock) and Andy Longthorn (David Clayforth) had stumbled across some of the burglar's loot at derelict Alder Cottages.

The burglar turned out to be the driver of the red Escort - he was pulled over and a stolen television and two radios were discovered in the back seat. Sergeant McArthur surmised that the man was in the act of hurriedly fleeing from the area, having discovered that the hiding place for his spoils at Alder Cottages had been rumbled.

Matt called the old faithful Nell out of service to resume sheepdog duties at Emmerdale.

And Jack, Joe (Frazer Hines), Matt and Dolly clubbed together to buy Annie a brand new tea service, an act which touched and pleased her greatly.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

1981-1982: Alison Dowling As Jane Hardcastle

When the Reverend Donald Hinton held a disco for local youngsters in the village hall in 1981, it wasn't exactly Thrillsville. Donald delved into his son's old record collection - and out of date was the order of the night. Nobody was that happy - but wonderfully drippy Jane Hardcastle, a schoolfriend of Jackie and Sandie's, thought it was great.

She didn't get out much, it seemed.

Jane made occasional appearances in the Beckindale saga during 1981 and 1982. She was Jackie's girlfriend for a while, but the relationship fizzled.

Alison Dowling, who played Jane, has become far better known for her role in another English farming serial - she is Elizabeth in BBC Radio 4's The Archers. She also briefly appeared in that famous motel/hotel soap Crossroads, as it coasted towards its end in the late 1980s, playing fun-loving yuppette Lisa Lancaster.

Judy Westrop And Other Queries...

Billie asks: How long did Judy Westrop (Jane Cussons) appear in Emmerdale Farm?

1979-1980, Billie. She debuted in the show in '79, the year of the ITV Strike, which, of course, disrupted Emmerdale Farm as much as any other ITV show.

In May 1980, Judy's father, Maurice (Edward Dentith), left Beckindale, but Judy stayed on to work at Hotten Cattle Market and live at Demdyke Row. She had a brief but unhappy dalliance with a gutter press journalist, who was in Beckindale to "dig the dirt" on the newly-returned Jack Sugden.

Judy left to take up a new job elsewhere in the late summer of 1980.

Carol enquires:

I've read that Jack Sugden was framed for setting fire to an NY Estates barn around 1980. What were the pyrotechnics like way back then?

Non-existent in this instance, Carol! The story-line actually took place in 1981, with Tom Merrick out to frame Jack, but although the barn apparently burnt down, we saw nothing on-screen.

Paul says:

More Malandra Burrows, please. I've loved her since those days of yore.

There'll be more soon, Paul - I promise!

And finally - from Mike:

Just found this blog of yours. It's really good stuff.

Cheers, Mike, the cheque's in the post!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Beckindale Bugle In The Guardian

After the recent appearance of The Beckindale Bugle in both the print and on-line Guardian, we took a Tardis back to 1982 and asked Mr Amos Brearly, Licensee and Proprietor of The Woolpack Inn, Beckindale, his thoughts on the matter. We arrived just in time for dinner.

"I'm not surprised," said Mr Brearly, on being told the good news. "I always thought Bugle would be a winner. Of course, you have to have a natural bent for writin'. Mr Wilks tries with his nature notes, but he hasn't quite got my touch. We Brearlys are known to be multi-talented. Of course, I'm not one to brag, but the truth will out and..."

Friday, 10 April 2009

The '80s Emmerdale Easter Quiz

One of my favourite times of year, Easter. And so, as you gronff your way through a mound of hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, and maybe even attend a church service or two, here's the Emmerdale '80s Easter Quiz. Some of the answers are a teensy bit difficult (a few can be found on this blog), some are easy-peasy. Can you answer all twenty questions?

1) Who was the landlord of Beckindale’s “other” hostelry, The Malt Shovel?

2) Two actresses portrayed Seth Armstrong’s wife, Meg, in the 1980s. Can you name them both?

3) Which character left England bound for France in 1983?

4) Who murdered Harry Mowlam in 1986?

5) What was the name of Sandie Merrick’s daughter?

6) Al Dixon’s version of the Woolpack’s silent regular, Walter, debuted in September 1980 and was last seen on screen just before Christmas 1985. The actor was ill and unable to continue in the role, although it was at first hoped he would return to it. What was the reason given for Walter’s departure from Beckindale in January 1986?

7) Pat, Sandie and Jackie Merrick briefly rented accommodation from NY Estates in the early ‘80s. What was it?

8) What was the name of Alan Turner’s son, who turned up in Beckindale in 1985?

9) The Rev Donald Hinton had a daughter who arrived at the Vicarage fleeing from marital problems in 1983. Name her.

10) Archie Brooks stated that everything would be all right once he’d solved his financial problem in 1985. What was his financial problem?

11) Evenin’ All! Which long-serving Beckindale bobby began pounding the village
beat in 1980?

12) And who played him?

13) When Amos Brearly went “upwardly mobile” in 1983 and took up golf, he met The Major, a fiercesome local bully and snob. The actor behind The Major became the terror of a well known fictitious school later in the decade. Can you name him?

14) In which year was Samuel David Skilbeck born?

15) Seth Armstrong ended up in hospital in 1986. Why?

16) Who played Kathy Bates/Merrick?

17) And who played her mother?

18) Henry Wilks suddenly manifested symptoms of a seasonal ailment he’d never suffered from before in 1989. What was it?

19) Name the two actors who played Tom Merrick in the 1980s.

20) For her birthday in 1986, Matt surprised Dolly with a holiday. Where was it?


1) Ernie Shuttleworth; 2)Ursula Camm and Ruth Holden. 3) Joe Sugden; 4) Derek Warner; 5) Louise; 6) He went to visit his sister. 7) A caravan. 8) Terence; 9) Barbara Peters; 10) He hadn't got any money. 11) Sergeant Ian MacArthur; 12) Martin Dale; 13) Michael Sheard; 14) 1982; 15) He was beaten up by badger baiters. 16) Malandra Burrows; 17) Diana Davies; 18) Hayfever; 19) Edward Peel and Jack Carr. 20) Bridlington

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

1981: Jackie Merrick With A Gun!

Summer 1981, and young Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock) seemed to be settling into his new job as assistant to NY Estates gamekeeper, Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards).

Seth began inducting Jackie into the safe art of using a gun, and things seemed to be going well - until Jackie showed off a little in front of a couple of his mates - one of these being Seth's son, Fred.

Things got a little out of hand, the gun went off, and shot out a window of the Merricks' caravan. No harm was done, there was no great drama - although, as was made plain to Jackie, things could have been very different - particularly as his sister Sandie and her boyfriend were inside the caravan at the time.

Seth was furious with the daft young lad. Jackie bemoaned his stupidity. Word spread to his boss, Joe Sugden, who covered for him with Richard Anstey. But it was made plain by both Joe and Seth that Jackie was now barred from using the NY guns.

Perhaps Jackie should have stayed away from guns for good. In 1989, a tired act of clumsiness with a gun would result in his death.

Friends again - Seth and Jackie - Stan Richards and Ian Sharrock - at the corner shop in Esholt. Jackie had a black eye - all part of the story-line - the lad had almost got into a punch-up at the local disco, and sustained slight damage. This photograph was taken by the Esholt shop's proprietor in 1983 and sold as postcards for some years afterwards.