Sunday, 3 May 2009

1980: Jack Sugden - "A Completely Different Person!" - Sheila Mercier

Jack Sugden returns to Emmerdale Farm with a new face in February 1980 - Clive Hornby has taken over the role from Andrew Burt. Annie (Sheila Mercier) and Sam (Toke Townley) greet him.

When Jack Sugden left Beckindale around 1964, after conflict with Jacob, his father, he went to London - then very swinging! When he returned to the farm in 1972, after his father's death, Jack (then played by Andrew Burt) was not a typical Sugden: he spoke "posh" and appeared educated and sophisticated. Some of his attitudes shocked Beckindale, which had not actually caught up to 1960s London standards even by the early 1970s. Jack appeared as rather an outsider.

When Clive Hornby first appeared as Jack in February 1980, the character was very different. This Jack was not as sophisticated, although occasional reference was made to the book he had written, Field Of Tares, and in 1983 Jack was writing a little poetry.

Sheila Mercier wrote in her autobiography, Annie's Song:

Clive Hornby, who had taken over the role of Jack Sugden, settled in quickly. He was even honoured with a special dinner at the Queens Hotel in Leeds on his arrival. It was, after all, a very important part that he was coming to play, although his character returned as a completely different person, more dedicated to farming than ever before!

Like the first Jack, this version favoured free range farming, but he was far more involved practically, far more interested in working on the farm and making the farm work. The original Jack had simply sat back and allocated shares in the farm to the rest of the family.

Clive Hornby's Jack did not sound as "posh", and his ideas were not as "enlightened". The character was not as restless. He seemed more typically a Sugden.

In 1982, after he married Pat Merrick (Helen Weir), Jack told her that he didn't like her working. She was then a clerk for Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) at NY Estates. The original Jack would, no doubt, have grimaced at such an attitude. But the new Jack was in tune with his grandfather, Sam Pearson (Toke Townley) on this issue.

The new Jack fitted more neatly into the Emmerdale Farm/Beckindale scenario. And although Clive Hornby bore a certain facial resemblance to his predecessor, the 1980s Jack was, as Sheila Mercier said, a "completely different person" from the sophisticated but troubled Jack of the early years.

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