Saturday, 19 September 2009

Archie Brooks (Tony Pitts) - In The Beginning...

Archie Brooks, played by Tony Pitts, in 1984. Mike Conrad (Martin Barrass) had dragged him into decorating the back room at The Woolpack after Amos (Ronald Magill) had accidentally caused his gas cooker to explode, spraying hot casserole all over the walls.

Archie Brooks, of Hotten, was a genuine one-off - right from the time of his very first appearance in Emmerdale Farm in November 1983.

New Emmerdale Farm Producer Richard Handford took over from Anne W Gibbons in June 1983, and immediately decided to give Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock) more of a social life. Martin Barrass arrived as Jackie's pal, Mike Conrad. Mike looked on as Jackie lurched through his short-lived relationship with Angie Richards (Beverley Callard).

And then, with the Angie affair consigned to history, Mike came rattling up to Emmerdale Farm one day in his tacky old van (complete with mattress in the back for "entertaining" the local scrubbers, er, sorry - I mean "ladies"!).

Mike had brought with him a pal of his called Archie. Archie was a little on the odd side by local standards, with his Tom-from-the-Thompson-Twins style hairdo and ghetto blaster. But, this being Beckindale, Archie wasn't playing Mr Pharmacist or Party Fears 2 on his ghetto blaster - bless your heart no - he was playing Status Quo's latest dazzling hit, Old Rag Blues. He did get a little trendier by slotting in some Big Country later though.

Archie had great enthusiasm for popular music - spanning everything from Little Richard to Alexei Sayle's Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? He also played the electric guitar.

Archie distinguised himself on his first visit to Emmerdale Farm by being rather monosyllabic and "out of it", and by rocking back and forth on one of the kitchen chairs, finally overbalancing, and causing the chair to break.

He was soon back in Beckindale to play the guitar with local New Wave band The Giro Technics (the name was a clever play on unemployment giro cheques) at the Beckindale Christmas Show, and he joined Jackie and Mike in undertaking some deliveries of quarry stones for local baddie Harry Mowlam (Godfrey James).

When Harry wouldn't give the lads their agreed rate of pay, and the lads were trying to think of a possession of Harry's they could seize and hold to ransom to force him to pay up, Archie thought the answer was obvious: some quarry stones.

As Harry Mowlam owned a large quarry at Connelton, and was in no way short of stones, Mike and Jackie, needless to say, were not impressed by Archie's suggestion.

In early 1984, Archie and Mike undertook the job of decorating the back room at The Woolpack. Archie proved himself a pretty good decorator, but the job took longer than was originally envisaged because of Mike's tendency to skive and Archie's tendency to break off and write poems and love letters on scraps of wallpaper.

Archie was in love.

And her name was Cathy.

However, writing love letters didn't come easily to the slow-thinking lad.

But, with Mike's advice, surely he couldn't go wrong?

Mike: "Why don't you put: 'Dear Cathy, you're the best looking bird I've ever seen, how about a bit of the other? Your secret admirer, Archie.' "

Archie saw nothing wrong with the sentiments expressed, but spotted a basic flaw:

"Hang on. How can I be a secret admirer if I sign my name?"

As the 1980s continued, Archie would appear in the Emmerdale Farm series more and more, become a bit of a thinker, and develop strong political and ecological views.

But that was very hard to imagine in his early days!

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