Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Curse Of The Sugdens

This blog is about Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s. However, sometimes it is necessary to pop into the neighbouring decades to get a complete view of a trend which was prevelant in the '80s. In the early 1990s, Joe Sugden began to wonder if the Sugdens were cursed. Why on earth should he think such a thing? Joe mentioned an old tale about a curse being put on the Sugden family. But his primary reason for pondering the possibility was the extraordinary amount of bad luck the family had experienced.

The serial began with a funeral in 1972 - wastrel head of family Jacob Sugden had died. Shortly following him, in 1973, was his daughter Peggy, (third from left in the top photograph). She died suddenly a few months after the birth of twins, Sam and Sally.

Here are the twins howling miserably away during a "jolly" photographic session at the farm. Had they whiffed the grim portents of doom headed their way? The twins lived at the farm after their mother's death, but later went to live with their father's aunt, Beattie Dowton, and her husband. In 1976, Beattie and the children were killed when her car stalled at a level crossing and was hit by a train.

The family was touched by tragedy again in 1977 when Jim Gimbel, the father of Joe's girlfriend, Kathy, shot himself in shame at the couple "living in sin".

The '80s brought more tragedy - with Dolly Skilbeck losing two babies, the first at an advanced stage of the pregnancy, the second an early miscarriage. Grandad Sam Pearson died peacefully in his sleep in November 1984, having spent the previous night celebrating his pumpkin winning first prize in the village's annual show. Daughter Annie discovered his passing when she took a cup of tea up to his room the following morning. The actor Toke Townley had died in real life and it was a very sad time for all concerned with Emmerdale Farm, including the viewers.

1986, and Pat Sugden was driving along quite happily when she rounded a bend in the road and saw her way blocked by a flock of sheep.

Her car plunged off the road, off the hillside, and she was killed.

"What Have I Done To Deserve This?" intoned the car radio, as young Jackie Merrick lay dead in 1989. He had been on the trail of a troublesome fox, out to win a bet. Sadly, his gun trigger snagged and he shot and killed himself.
As the '90s came in, the Sugdens were more troubled than ever. Joe's wife, Kate, ran over and killed Pete Whiteley in 1990. She went to prison. In 1993, Emmerdale Farmhouse began to subside - it had apparently been built on an old mine. The family moved out, an era ended.
Better luck now? Nope, the nutty "all done in the best possible taste" (NOT) plane crash story was next, wiping out more friends and family.
So, Joe had good reason to ponder on the possibility of a curse of the Sugdens. Mind you, he didn't ponder long. He was killed in a car crash in 1995.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8.7.11

    Wow, Kathy was fit though!