Thursday, 15 October 2009

The '80s Bad Boys Of Beckindale...

The first of the 1980s bad guys who brought a touch of the ruthless to Beckindale was one Alan Turner - manager of NY Estate's Beckindale venture at Home Farm.

Alan swept into Beckindale in 1982. He blustered and bullied, and was thoroughly grotty to his staff - which included Joe Sugden. Women like Barbara Peters, the vicar's glamorous daughter, who worked for a time as Alan's secretary, could see through him and, despite his romantic overtures, kept their distance.

Interviewed in 1993, Richard Thorp recalled the turning point in Alan's life...

"Oh, Alan was an absolute stinker in the beginning, he rubbed everyone up the wrong way. The major influence on him was Mrs Bates who was played by Diana Davies. In the very first scene we did together I was losing my temper, ranting and raving, so she sent me up and it came across when we did the scene."

Mrs Bates arrived in 1984 and simply couldn't keep a straight face...

And so Alan became a lovable, comic character...

Remember the time in 1986 when he went on a diet, bought an exercise bike, talking scales, and took up jogging? By the time he reached the Woolpack after his first jogging session, he was close to collapse - and in fact he did so as soon as he entered the pub, flopping inelegantly onto the floor before the startled regulars.

"My gaffer!" said Seth Armstrong.

"My floor!" said Amos Brearly, who'd just cleaned it.

Not all the Beckindale '80s baddies turned out to be good fun in the end. Harry Mowlam (Godfrey James) was a thoroughly nasty piece of work who brought much unhappiness to Matt and Dolly Skilbeck when they intervened over Harry's mistreatment of his dog.

Mr Mowlam then left the scene for a time, returned in 1985, and was soon involved in a security van robbery, netting £6000. Harry had a huge inferiority complex - he thought that the village, and the folk at Emmerdale Farm in particular, looked down on him. He plagued the vicar, the Rev Donald Hinton, with questions and statements about religion, was a generous buyer of drinks in the Woolpack, and had a sadistic streak a mile wide.

When Dolly miscarried the baby she was carrying in 1985, Harry was very much on the scene and Matt later confessed that he thought Harry was the cause of the miscarriage. In 1986, Matt treated several of Harry's ailing sheep - taking them up to Emmerdale to do so. Three of the sheep died, through no fault of Matt's, but Harry, who had not given permission for the sheeps' removal to Emmerdale in the first place, was furious.

He frightened Dolly further by accosting her in Beckindale, then stole several Emmerdale sheep to "make good" his loss. Unfortunately Matt caught him in the act.

"I'm gonna break your bloody back..."

A terrible fight took place, entirely initiated by Harry - at one point he seemed set to squeeze the life out of Matt with a fierce bear hug. Matt fought back, Harry tripped and fell backwards into the beck and Matt left him with Mowlam's comforting assurance "I'll 'ave you, Skilbeck!" ringing in his ears.

The next day, out on a walk, Henry Wilks found Harry dead.

Matt was accused of the crime and endured several months of hell until the true culprit, Harry Mowlam's accomplice Derek Warner (Dennis Blanche), confessed to the crime, holding the Rev Donald Hinton hostage at St Mary's Vicarage before finally giving himself up to the police.

Richard Franklin (formerly Mike Yates of "Dr Who") with Frazer Hines (formerly Jamie McCrimmon of "Dr Who"). Photograph courtesy of Bill Sands.

Next on the list of '80s baddies is businessman Denis Rigg - played by Richard Franklin.

Turning up in 1988, Denis wasted absolutely no time in making enemies. He was too old to be a yuppie, but he was, however, a ruthless old school businessman - not ashamed to use underhand methods to get his way.

His desire to turn part of the area, including Emmerdale Farm, into a quarry not surprisingly met with resistance from the Sugdens in 1989. Rigg used various devious and underhand tactics to "persuade" them, including trying to get their long-term friend Henry Wilks on his side. After years in business himself, Henry knew Rigg's type, told him so, and showed him the door.

Rigg went to the farm to continue his campaign, cornered Joe in an outbuilding, tried the sweet approach, then turned nasty. Unfortunately, Rigg's tone and animated manner upset Emmerdale's prize bull, which Joe was tending at the time. Rigg was crushed against the wall by the bull and died.

So, judging by Alan, Harry, Derek and Denis one can assume that Beckindale's '80s baddies either turned nice, disappeared to prison never to return or got bumped off. But that's not absolutely true...

This man arrived to work as auctioneer at Hotten Market in 1986, and judging from his manner to his assistant, Sandie Merrick, right from the first, would not be qualifying for any Charmer of the Year awards.

Smiling in triumph in 1989, Eric Pollard's reign of rottenness was only just beginning as the show leapt into the increasingly far fetched '90s...

And no, he's never turned nice, never disappeared into prison forever, and never got "bumped off". Eric Pollard is one '80s Beckindale bad guy who still runs rampant - over twenty years after his debut.

Said Christopher Chittell of the role:

"There are certain destructive elements in all of us which we try to keep subdued, but they raise their ugly heads from time to time..."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8.2.11

    Just discovered this website by chance and very intrested to see what ever happened to dennis rigg because i grew up watching emmerdale farm in the late 1980s and they repeated them on sky in the late 90s. I never properly knew or see any episodes between January - October 1989 when it was still emmerdale farm, if anybody knows more or has any episodes from 1989 to share I would be very much appreciated.