Saturday, 3 October 2009

Ernie Shuttleworth And The Malt Shovel In The 1980s...

The July 1986 Woolpack Versus Malt Shovel Dominoes Match ends in acrimony - Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill), Jock MacDonald (Drew Dawson) and Ernie Shuttleworth (Peter Schofield) were there.

Simon writes to ask:

The Malt Shovel is a never-seen Emmerdale mystery location. Did it appear in the 1980s?

Yes, Simon, it did.

The Shovel had long been a thorn in Amos Brearly's side: he denounced landlord Ernie Shuttleworth's beer as "filth" and frowned upon the "low standards" of Beckindale's other hostelry.

Ernie Shuttleworth had first appeared in the show's early years and was briefly portrayed by actor John Comer (Sid of Last Of The Summer Wine).

After this, Amos' disapproval of the Shovel in no way decreased, however Ernie was not seen on-screen, but occasionally mentioned, for years.

In the summer of 1980, Malt Shovel regular Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) became a Woolpack regular, as Seth became a full-time Emmerdale Farm character.

Amos was at his most blustering when being wound up, and in the 1980s viewers adored seeing the increasingly larger-than-life Mr B being wound up.

And Seth quickly became a master at it.

In 1984, Ernie Shuttleworth was re-introduced, now played by actor Peter Schofield. Mr Schofield's portrayal of Ernie did not exactly echo John Comer's - the character became rather more sly, and more of an adversary for Amos than ever before.

The Shovel appeared on-screen in 1982, when Seth, fed up with being under the gaze of his NY boss and the vicar - both regulars at The Woolpack, briefly sought refuge there (Ernie was not seen).

We heard in the early '80s that Ernie had had a Space Invaders machine installed. Of course, The Woolpack would never have stooped so low!

In January 1984, Peter Schofield's splendid Mr Shuttleworth made his debut, squaring up to Amos, and battle commenced.

We viewers were treated to on-screen Shovel scenes as we witnessed its Country And Western Night (complete with yodelling cowboy singer), and Mr Wilks (Arthur Pentelow) developed a fondness for Shovel barmaid Doreen (Sandra Gough).

There was trouble between Amos and Ernie at the annual Licensed Victuallers' Association Ball.

And more trouble over Ernie's nightly "Happy Hour", which drew custom from The Woolpack.

When Ernie was caught serving drinks after hours, Amos wrote a disparaging article on the subject for the Hotten Courier, and Ernie, in retaliation, interfered with the clock in The Woolpack bar, thus causing Amos to be caught serving customers after time.

From then on, Ernie's occasional appearances became a treat greatly relished by viewers.

At the end of the day, Ernie wanted custom and was not afraid of modern gimicks to secure it. His weekly disco nights midway through the decade with the "latest hot sounds of the '80s" were the talk of Beckindale and resulted in Ernie putting his back out. Had he been attempting to breakdance, I wondered?!!

Amos wanted custom too, and he was pushed into installing a jukebox at The Woolpack for a while. But Amos was caught up with delusions of grandeur and his approach was very different to Ernie's.

He usually frowned down on modern gimmicks from a very great height.

To sum up, the 1980s war of the Beckindale pub landlords was simply hilarious.

Ronald Magill's performance as Amos was never short of inspired.

I adored Amos - and never more so than in the 1980s when this beautifully matured character scaled new heights of blathering bombast and oddness.

And Peter Schofield, in bringing Ernie Shuttleworth out of the shadows and into the limelight as an instantly real character whose main aim was to secure as much custom as possible for his pub, and get right on Amos' wick in the process, was a delight!
September 1984...

Having been caught by the police serving after hours, and crowed over by Amos Brearly in the Hotten Courier, Ernie Shuttleworth visits The Woolpack to tell Amos exactly what he thinks of him. Mr Wilks goes to find Amos, Walter (Al Dixon) visits the Gents and Ernie, suddenly alone in the bar, has an idea. He alters The Woolpack clock, putting it back twenty minutes, tells Walter (on his return from the Gents) that he can't wait any longer - he's a pub of his own to run - and leaves. Mr Wilks returns from a fruitless search for Amos to find Walter alone in the bar. Where on earth had Amos gone?

The explanation was simple: Amos, having seen the indignant Ernie approaching The Woolpack, and uncertain of how to defend his somewhat spiteful stance in The Courier, had sought refuge in the cellar.

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