Daily Mirror, 1983
Cerys has written with an enquiry about regional variations in the times and dates of Emmerdale Farm screenings in the early-to-mid 1980s:
I have read that 1978 was the pivotal date and that the show was then shown in the evenings. But a 1983 TV Times I bought on eBay recently points to that not being the case. It's a Thames edition, and Emmerdale Farm is scheduled for 5.15 pm!
Interesting point, Cerys. An edition of the Daily Mirror I have from May 1980, reveals that the show was being shown at 7pm by ATV, Southern and Yorkshire, by Granada at 6.30pm and at 5.15pm by Thames (London) and Anglia (East of England).
It was shown by my own ITV region, Anglia, at 5.15pm at least until the mid-1980s.
In the mid-1980s, Emmerdale Farm became an all-year-round soap, and the seasonal breaks ceased, although the show was still briefly off-air over the Christmas season.
Some 1980 YTV publicity blurb claims that the programme was being shown:
"FULL ITV NETWORK (except STV/WTV/CHA) Tuesday, JANUARY 8, 1980.
STV Wednesday, JANUARY 9, 1980
WTV/CHA Thursday, January 10, 1980 } times vary, all early evening."
But, of course, many people consider 5.15pm to be late afternoon!
In July 1983, an article in the Sunday Mirror revealed:
Thames TV's stubborn refusal to shift the series from their afternoon schedule suits Sheila [Mercier - Annie Sugden] just fine because she can live undisturbed by fans in Shepperton, Middlesex, with Peter, her husband and agent.
"Yes," admitted Sheila. "I am happy that the series goes out at a time when not many people are watching."
The book Emmerdale - The First Twenty Years (Box Tree, 1992) is enlightening:
On 5 January 1988, 'Emmerdale Farm' had achieved a programming milestone - being transmitted country-wide on the same day at the same time. After fifteen years, this was a major achievement. The year was also the first in which broadcasting continued through Christmas.
From the Christmas 1988 TV Times - the very first Christmas season featuring episodes of the Beckindale farming saga.