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.

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