Friday, 27 November 2009

1989 Emmerdale - The Story-Lines - How The New Era Began...

Emmerdale - the new era...

The scene is Main Street, Beckindale, November, 1989. Sarah Connolly (Madeleine Howard) has arrived with the mobile library. She greets a passer-by.

Henry Wilks (Arthur Pentelow) calls to her from the front step at The Woolpack, where he is bringing in the milk, mail and morning paper:

"Morning, Miss Connolly!"

"Mr Wilks!" says Sarah.

"Bit nippy!" says Henry.

"Certainly is!" says Sarah.

Inside The Woolpack, Henry tells Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill) that Sarah is back from her training course. Amos is agog and asks if Henry can take over the tidying up behind the bar.

"You can't wait to tell her that Jack's back - and fancy free!" Henry teases.

"As a matter of fact I was looking forward to asking her how she enjoyed Winchester!" says Amos, offended. "But as Jack's a friend of hers..."

Amos feels it would be "polite" to tell her. Henry tells him that Marian and Jack have got their own lives to lead now - he isn't telling Sarah that Jack is back in circulation. His attention is distracted as he sorts through the morning mail by a letter from Capri - from Marian. He goes to the back room to read it.

Nosey Amos is torn between following Henry and discovering what the letter says, and going out to the mobile library to impart the glad tidings about Jack's return to Sarah. The mobile library wins, and he scurries out of The Woolpack.

At Emmerdale Farm, Annie (Sheila Mercier) tells Jack (Clive Hornby) that she can't get over how Robert (Christopher Smith) has grown. "It's all that pasta!" grins Jack.

Annie goes to get Robert some orange squash, asking Jack if he's staying for dinner as she does so.

"No, I don't think so, Ma," says Jack. "I've got to go to the airport!"

"What?!" Annie is puzzled.

"Don't panic - I haven't changed my mind - I'm having some stuff air freighted over - just a few bits and pieces."

Annie asks if he wants to store the "bits and pieces" at the farm. Jack says yes.

"Does that mean you'll be moving in with them?" asks Annie.

"Oh, we're fine at the moment, with Kathy!"

"You've been there long enough!" says Annie. "Isn't it time you decided?"

"I haven't decided anything, Ma," Jack replies.

Annie tells Jack it's time he made some plans - he can't just "drift along" like this.

"That sounds like a good plan to me!" says Jack.

"Oh, Jack!" Annie is exasperated.

"You've got to live for the present, Ma," says Jack. "It's much less complicated."

"Is that so?!" Annie challenges him. "What's your plan for the present, then?"

"To see Joe, I s'pose," grins Jack. "I've got to scrounge something to drive to the airport, haven't I?"

At the mobile library, Sarah is aware that Amos is hovering, having already selected some reading matter. "Do you want another book, Mr Brearly?"

"Nay, nay - just browsing!" says Amos. "This'll do me." He steps forward: "I don't suppose it'll be news to you as a certain member of the community's back in Beckindale."

"Sorry?" Sarah is puzzled.

"I thought you'd have heard - him being a good friend of yours!"

"A friend of mine?"

"Jack Sugden's back!"

Sarah is slightly rocked on her heels, but does her best to conceal the fact from Amos.

"Oh. Is he?" She turns her back on Amos, and begins replacing returned books in the shelves.

"Aye, you could've knocked me over with a feather!" squawks Amos. "There we were, all expecting him and Marian and little Niccolo, then he came back on his own!"

"Well, Jack was always one for surprises!" says Sarah, keeping her tone cool.

"This were a surprise - a big surprise!" cries Amos. "I thought he might've phoned you!"

"Me? Oh, I don't think so. It's probably just a business thing - a holiday perhaps."

"Nay, nay!" says Amos. "It's all over between him and Marian. He's back for good!"

Sarah manages to keep her calm exterior, finally asking: "Are you sure you don't want another book, Mr Brearly?"

Amos leaves. Sarah lets her mask slip. The news of Jack's return has left her feeling more emotionally churned up than she would ever reveal to Amos.

At Emmerdale Farm, 1980 is casting a long shadow into November 1989. In February 1980, Jack had returned to Beckindale. Joe had been uneasy at his brother's return, but the once-in-a-lifetime offer to join Ed Hathersage in America for the summer had provided a welcome respite from the challenge of working with Jack. Joe, the pragmatist, found Jack's idealism hard to handle when it came to farming.

Returning to England later in 1980, Joe had been offered a job as farm manager at NY Estates, and so had bowed out of active work at Emmerdale Farm, although he remained on the board of the limited company.

The thing was, Joe had felt that his position as farm manager at Emmerdale Farm had been ended by Jack's return, and as the years went on Joe came to feel that Jack had as good as thrown him off the farm. When Jack took off on his travels again in 1988, Joe had stepped into the breach at Emmerdale Farm.

And now, here Jack was back again.

Would the next few months turn out to be a re-run of 1980, with Jack taking over the farm and Joe being left feeling pushed out?

Kate (Sally Knyvette) is anxious about Joe and asks Kathy (Malandra Burrows) about the past situation regarding Jack and Joe:

"He pushed him out of Emmerdale before."

"Before my time," says Kathy, who arrived in Beckindale in 1985.

"Joe is really convinced that he's lying low plotting something terrible - he's really winding himself up about it."

"Oh, I don't think Jack knows what he wants to do - he just seems relieved to be out of Italy."

"I just wish he'd make up his mind - for my sake at least!" says Kate.

"I don't think Joe's got anything to worry about, you know."

"I just wish that Jack'd tell Joe what he wants to do!"

Jack and Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines) and Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) are out, selecting sheep to go to market.

"What about this one?" asks Joe.

"Yeah, let her go - she should've gone last year," says Matt.

"Never - there's life in her yet - give her another chance!" Jack grins, teasingly.

"Give over - she's well past it!" says Matt.

"Might get another chance on an Italian farm, but not on this one!" says Joe.

"Aye, I'd forgotten about the profit in pie meat!" taunts Jack. "Still, it saves all that messing, don't it? Straight down to market and a few more bob in your pocket! I dunno! New beef herd, milk production up, even a smart new kitchen. Who says farmers are starving?!"

"Is there owt we can get you?" asks Joe, stung.

"Aye, you can lend me the Land Rover!" says Jack.

"What for?"

"Well, I'll hire it if you like! Just some stuff I've got to collect from the airport!"

"Yeah, it's there - the keys are in it!" said Joe, indicating the Land Rover.

"It's not going to stop production, or anything? I mean I don't want to upset the accountant!" sneers Jack.

"Just take it, will you?" Joe is sick of his brother's "banter".

"Are we gonna get this lot sorted for market, or aren't we?" cries Matt.

"You heard the man - time is money!" says Jack, and leaves them to it.

"What's on for lunch today, Mr Brearly?" asks Sarah Connolly, back at the mobile library.

"My own meat and tatie pie!" says Amos, rather proudly.

"Save some for me!" smiles Sarah.

At Hotten Market, Matt has made a grim discovery, in the back of a truck carrying sheep.

"Have you seen the state of this lot in here - have a look!" he tells Joe.

"They're a bit tightly packed!" says Joe.

"There's one of 'em dead - and three of 'em off their legs!" says Matt.

"Well, it happens," says Joe.

"Yeah, with cowboy firms, not Tate's!" says Matt.

"Yeah, well I'll get our heifers ready," says Joe.

"Have you had a look in here lately?" Matt asks the truck driver.

"Why, what's up pal?" says the driver.

"Is something wrong?" asks a young man, approaching - closely followed by Eric Pollard (Christopher Chittell).

"Yes, there is summat wrong - the condition of these ewes in here! There's one dead and some of 'em are down!"

"Dead?!" cries the young man who is Christopher Tate (Peter Amory), although Matt doesn't know it. Christopher takes a peek in the back of the truck. "Some of 'em are getting on - he's held on to them too long. Still, we're off-loading them now."

"You're not letting 'em through in this state, are you?" Matt asks Eric.

"The paperwork is in order, Mr Skilbeck," says Eric.

"They'll be in the abattoir by tonight - I'll see to it that farm gets a good ticking off!" says Christopher.

Matt insists that he wants the vet to be brought out. Eric insists that the paperwork is "A-OK". Christopher says he takes Matt's point - but it's just a bad bunch. Matt accuses them of "market hopping" - nobody else will take the sheep in that state, so they bring them to Hotten.

"This really is none of your business!" says Eric.

"It's my business if I see stock being ill treated!" cries Matt, and insists that he wants the vet to come out.

Christopher asks the truck driver to unload the ewes.

"We'll see about that!" says Matt.

"Ah, Miss Connolly! Meat and tatie pie?" asks Amos, as Sarah enters The Woolpack.

"Please, and a glass of dry white wine please, Mr Brearly," says Sarah.

"Coming right up!" Amos notices that Sarah looks around as the door opens to admit a regular. "Expecting anyone?" he asks, nosily.

"No," says Sarah, with a knowing smile.

Caught out being beaky, Amos is uncomfortable: "Oh I just... well, I thought you might want your pie savin', like."

"I'll have it now, thank you!" smiles Sarah.

Back at Hotten Market, Matt drives the Emmerdale Land Rover into place so that it blocks the back of the Tate & Son truck carrying the mistreated ewes.

"Surely we can talk this over amicably, Matt?" asks Eric Pollard.

"If you won't call the vet out, I will!" Matt is adamant.

"I'm going to ring the vet now!" Matt tells Christopher Tate. "Until he gets here, that truck and that stock goes nowhere!"

At The Woolpack, Sarah has been joined by Kate and Kathy and they are discussing Archie Brooks (Tony Pitts) and his choice of reading matter from the mobile library.

"What sort of books did he like?" asks Kate.

"Spy thrillers," says Sarah.

"What, Archie?!" laughs Kathy.

"He said the only reason was to see the degradation of capitalist society as it wages a futile cold war," says Sarah.

"I'm really gonna miss Archie!" says Kate.

Kate goes to the bar for more drinks.

"Why didn't you tell me Jack was back?" Sarah asks Kathy, faintly prickly.

"Didn't you know?" Kathy is surprised.

"Why should I?" asks Sarah.

"Well... I thought he'd've phoned..."

"Our friend Mr Brearly told me," says Sarah. "He's staying with you, I believe?"


"I suppose he's making your life a misery, is he? Now it's all over with Marian."

"He seems happy it is."

Sarah is taken aback: "Oh."

"Perhaps I should tell him you were asking after him?"

"Well, that's up to you. Just make sure he realises I don't want him arriving on my front doorstep at midnight, looking for a bed for the night."

"Now, would Jack do that?" Kathy smiles.

"You know damn well he'd try it!"

"Why don't you tell him yourself? Look, come round for a meal tonight."

Sarah refuses, but invites Kathy to hers for a meal instead.

"Should I invite Jack, too?" Kathy asks, impishly.

"Don't you dare!" says Sarah.

Back at Hotten Market, the vet has arrived and the ewes are being unloaded from the truck.

"I hope you're staisfied!" says Eric Pollard to Matt.

"It had to be done - and you should've brought him out, not me!" says an unrepentant Matt.

"I wish you hadn't, Mr Skilbeck!" says Christopher Tate. "This'll cause the firm a lot of hassle getting these back to their owner for tonight!"

"Yeah, well you shouldn't've taken them in that condition!" Matt insists.

"The man's an old customer - we had to!"

"Yeah, better than being threatened with prosecution by the vet!" cries Matt. "You'd better get on with it!"

"Any time I can do you a favour, Mr Skilbeck!" says Christopher, sarcastically.

At Emmerdale Farm, Jack arrives back from the airport and asks if Joe will lend him a hand with his stuff.

"Everything all right?" asks Annie, emerging from the farmhouse.

"They've lost one of my boxes at the airport - I'll have to go back tomorrow!" says Jack.

"Oh no!"

"That's Italians, Ma - they muck up all your plans!" says Jack, making a dig at Paolo, Marian's husband.

At The Woolpack, Amos is in agony, wondering what was in Henry's letter from Marian. The letter is on the dining table, and Amos is itching to read it, in fact right on the verge, when Henry comes in, announcing that he's "nipping up to Emmerdale."

"Right you are, Mr Wilks. Everything all right over in Capri, is it?"

Henry scoops up the letter and goes to put his coat on. "Aye."

"Gracie Field's used to live there, tha knows, married a German chap. Enjoyin' the holiday, is she?"

"Who? Gracie Fields?"


"Seems to be!"

"Children all right?"

"Yes, fine, fine."

"Bearing up, is she?"

"She's very well, thank you," Henry was giving nothing away. "See you later!"

And he left behind an Amos who wasn't only nosey - he was also very concerned.

Joe helps Jack to move some of his stuff from the airport into Emmerdale. Jack still seems in a teasing mood; Joe is still anxious. How did Joe enjoy France, Jack asks him - Joe spent from 1983 to 1986 there working for NY Estates. Joe says that he liked it, and asks Jack if he's thinking of going abroad again. No, says Jack, he's quite happy for the time being staying at Demdyke Row with Kathy.

As Joe, slightly reassured, goes to leave the kitchen, Jack can't resist saying: "I don't suppose you're desperate for any extra rent?"

"I think I can manage without, for the time being!" says Joe, stiffly.

Jack grins: "Good!"

In Eric Pollard's office at Hotten Market, Christopher Tate is on the phone. He can't return the ewes, but arranges to "get shot of them" in Belgium. The vet won't know where they've gone. Christopher asks Eric to let him know if he sees Matt Skilbeck "hanging about". "I've enough hassle without him interfering."

"Busy?" asks Eric.

"I'm run off my feet, yes."

"Not seen much of Frank lately. What's he up to?"

"This and that," says Christopher, guardedly.

"Must be six months since I last saw him at The Foresters."

"Oh, he's gone upmarket since then," says Christopher, mysteriously. "See yer!"

Back at Emmerdale, Annie invites Jack and Robert to stay to tea. Jack refuses - Kathy'll be preparing something, he says.

"You've been back a week, you've not had a meal here yet!" says Annie.

Henry arrives. He tells Jack that the letter he received from Marian that morning states that Jack abandoned her.

"Henry!" says Annie. "You know he wouldn't do that!"

"Wouldn't he?" asks Henry.

"I never abandoned her, Henry!" Jack grins - finding the notion absurd.

"Well, that's what she's saying," replies Henry. "Says she's been dropped by an impatient, irresponsible man, who can't face up to any kind of responsibility."

"Well, she's entitled to her opinion, but she's wrong. She's had her chances, plenty of 'em," says Jack.

"Two sides to every story, Jack," replies Henry, grimly.

"Well if that's the way she sees it, perhaps it's best it never worked out." Jack and Robert leave.

"That was uncalled for, Henry!" says Annie.

Henry is grim-faced. "Maybe Marian's right - I've just been talking to Joe. He [Jack] hasn't given him an inkling of what his plans are, nothing!"

"Well, maybe he's too upset over Marian to make any?" Annie suggests.

"I can't see that. Back a week and he's forgotten her. I'm sorry, Annie, but it's been building up since I got this thing," he indicates the letter. "I really thought they were going to make a go of it, I really did!"

At Demdyke Row, Jack returns with Robert.

Kathy says she'll put the tea on, but Jack says he'll cook - he hasn't done a thing since he turned up!

"Um, I hope you don't mind, Jack, but I've been invited out for a meal," says Kathy. And, remembering Jackie, "Don't worry - it's not with a man!"

"Even if it was, luv, life goes on..." Jack smiles.

"What's the mystery? Who's invited you out?"

"Aha, that'd be telling wouldn't it?"

"Are you sure it isn't Tubby Turner?"

Kathy laughs: "No!"

She refuses to tell Jack the identity of her dinner hostess.

At the farm, Annie, Henry, Joe, Kate and Annie are discussing Jack.

"Well, you remember what he was like at Jackie's funeral - he was snapping at everybody. He can't be over it yet," says Kate.

"The end of things with Marian can't've helped," sighs Annie.

"Oh, it's all excuses," Joe cries. "He gets away with murder!"

"He's had a bad time!" Annie insists.

"Now that annoys me - it really does! I mean, he comes and goes as he likes, without a thought to anyone. I mean, why won't he tell us what he's planning?"

"You've just got to give him time, Joe," says Henry.

"We haven't got time, Henry! Good God, you're a businessman, you know how tough it gets, year-by-year! I daren't make a move on this farm for fear of Jack messing it all up! We're better off without him!"

"This is his home," Annie cries. "Would you push him out of his own home?"

"He really should let us know though, Annie, I mean it's not fair to keep Joe on a string like this," says Kate.

"We'll manage as we are for the moment. He'll be back soon enough," Annie is firm.

"If he does come back, he'll just mess things up!" Joe is bitter.

"Why are you so against him?"

"I'm not! It's just... look, I'm concerned about this place. How can Emmerdale survive with me pulling one way and Jack t'other, eh?"

"You're equal partners in the farm - you have to!" Henry points out.

"You don't work here. And you don't work with Jack! Besides, things are different now, Henry - I'm not the batchelor brother any more. I mean, why do you think I eventually gave in over Home Farm, eh? Because I could see a place here for me - and I've got a family of my own now, remember. And a baby on the way if I'm lucky. No, it just won't work!"

"It has to work, he's your brother," says Annie, grimly.

Jack was also under discussion at Sarah Connolly's flat.

"He's so contrary," sighs Sarah. "One minute he'll turn up on my doorstep and stay over, presuming I'll go along with everything he wants. The next minute, he's forgotten I exist.

"Do you want him to ring?" asks Kathy.

"I don't care whether he rings or not!" says Sarah - not entirely convincingly.

"Do you really mean that?"

"Last time, I told him that if ever things didn't work out with Marian he could call me. It's been a week, so..." Sarah shrugs.

"Well, you could always ring him."

"Look, can we talk about something else?" asks Sarah.

At Demdyke Row, Jack has just got Robert off to bed, when Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) arrives.

"I've told Meg about this, but will she listen? Will she 'eck!"

"Come in!" grins Jack.

"Begged 'er, I went on my bended knees. I were as near cryin' as a man could be. And what did she come back with?"

"Well, that might depend on what you said to her in the first place!"

"You'd be wrong thinkin' that, Jack! I told her straight! I said, 'Kathy might be our neighbour, Meg, but I'm not spending rest of my life poppin' in and out of 'er 'ouse, tryin' to borrow stuff!' It were a pair of tights last week. I were astonished that Meg could get into 'em!"

Seth has told Meg the borrowing must stop, but in the meantime he wonders if Jack can lend him some butter? "She'll murder me if I don't get any!"

Seth tells Jack that if there's anything he can do in return - Jack only needs to ask. Jack takes the wind out of Seth's sails by asking him to babysit that night - "just for an hour".

Seth is not in love with the idea. But what can he do?

Back at Sarah's flat, Sarah asks Kathy how's she getting on.

Kathy says she's enjoying working at the farm, and having Jack staying at Demdyke Row: "He's so like Jackie."

"That man again!" smiles Sarah.

The phone rings, and Kathy, rather uncomfortable, listens to Sarah arranging to meet someone called Jerry the following night.

At The Woolpack, Jack and Amos are chatting.

"Seth? Seth Armstrong?! Babysitting?!!" Amos is taken aback at the news.

"Is there some problem with that?" asks Jack.

"Nay," says Amos.

"Well, that's all right then!" laughs Jack.

"Well, I am speakin' as Robert's godfather, tha knows. And if lad wakes and cries out in't night... well... Seth's mouth is most frightening - all them gums. Some of us are used to it, of course, but I'd not like little lad to 'ave nightmares!"

Jack laughs again.

Amos tells Jack that Robert needs a mother, and starts on about Sarah Connolly - he likes her.

"Yes, I'm fond of Sarah too, Amos - but we wouldn't want to cross too many bridges too soon, would we?"

"Wouldn't we?" asks Amos, disappointed.

"Well, we wouldn't want to frighten her off with indiscreet hints every time she walked in here."

Taking this particular hint, Amos changes the subject: "Lot of weather we've been having lately, Jack."

Up at the farm, the discussion about Jack has stretched on well into the evening.

"Oh, for the last time, Ma, I can't work this farm with Jack!" cries Joe.

"That's why we've got to sit down and talk and get this thing sorted out!"

"Your Ma's right, Joe," says Henry.

Kate intervenes: "Oh, come on, Joe - he's been back for days and you've hardly spoken to him. Look, have you ever thought that he might be frightened of announcing that he wants to come back?"

"Jack? Frightened? No! He's causing the maximum amount of aggro by sitting tight at Demdyke! What do they call it, Henry - divide and rule?"

"Now that is ridiculous!" says Henry.

Kate returns to the arena: "You've got to talk - the pair of you!"

"Ah, yeah!" Joe isn't buying. "Anything to accommodate Jack! That's how he's been throughout the years, luv! Work round Jack - make sure Jack's all right. That's why we've got five equal shares in this place - some idealistic scheme that he dreamt up! Well, it's farming by committee, Henry, and you can't do it! I mean how can we get a secure policy for this place when we're running a farm like that, eh?"

"That's why we've got to talk!" Annie insists.

"Oh, what's the point, Ma? He'll be against us making a commercial go of this place, you know that! He'll do it to spite me!"

"What do you suggest?" asks Henry.

"Well... I think we ought to think about splitting up!"

"Joe!" Annie is aghast.

"I don't want to do it, Ma, but if Emmerdale is to survive, I think that's what we ought to do. And if it means me buying Jack out, then I'll do it!"

A stunned silence descends...

More from 1989 Emmerdale soon...


  1. When you consider the type of empty-headed, bitchy (and that's just the men), blood thirsty twits that Emmerdale appeals to now... it seems a shame really. Twenty years of rapid downhill.

  2. I beg to differ. 1989 was the start of the good stuff.

  3. Anonymous29.11.09

    That's very true Brian, people seem to think that the plane crash was the beginning of the bigger stuff. But when you think of Rachel & Kim's affairs, Lorraine's sexual abuse, Sarah's kidnapping and Zoe coming out as a lesbian, all this happened before the plane crash. And it's good that it tackles issues and makes you realise not everyone in Yorkshire works on a farm. People seem to think that just because Emmerdale is set in the Yorkshire Dales, it can't cover the same storylines as say Eastenders or Coronation Street.

  4. Anonymous2.12.09

    Changes have always occured though in the series, right from the beginning. A lot of viewers didn't like changes made to the show, some like one particular era better than others, some like one era not any of the others, and some like all eras, but the same with all soaps changes are essential. If Emmerdale looked exactly the same now as it did in the 80s I wouldn't be watching it, but the storylines are always changing to ensure it's still on TV and as a fan for over 20 years I'm glad of that.

  5. Paul A,2.12.09

    The 1980s were definitely an era of huge change for this soap: if you watch an episode of Emmerdale Farm from 1972 and one from 1979, characters have come and gone, but the show is very much in the same style. If you view an episode from 1980 and one from 1989, it's almost like a totally different soap - the '89 scenes are so much shorter, the action so much faster. In 1980, this was a serial with seasonal breaks, and as Kevin Laffan said in 1982, one that was out to paint a picture of a place where city dwellers would want to live (although it never ignored issues). In 1989, it's an all-year-round, networked serial, far more hard edged, and Beckindale is no longer the city dwellers' dream.

    I hate to annoy anybody, but '72-79 was boring, it really was a show which catered for old folk, the '80s were slightly less boring (at times - and particularly later on), and the show really hit its golden era in the 1990s and 2000s.

    In fact, it's STILL IN its golden era. '72-'79 was the groundwork, the '80s laid some of the foundations for future greatness, and the '90s and now are FAB!!!

  6. You're right, Paul - 1980 and 1989 are staggeringly different as far as Emmerdale episodes go. But the 1980s saw major changes in the world of soaps in general - with the appearance of Brookside and EastEnders - and Emmerdale responded to the new outlook and challenges. The all-year-round soap and networked status were also huge milestones in the serial's history.

  7. Anonymous2.12.09

    Dropping "Farm" from the title in 1989 was meant to liven up the show. It worked!

  8. Deebee5.12.09

    The 1980s were an incredible decade for Emmerdale Farm, or Emmerdale as it became in 1989. The old characters were at their best, and there were many great new ones. The show was preparing to move into the modern age and it really showed. I have a couple of dozen 1980s episodes, ranging from 1984 to 1989, and the show changed MASSIVELY. It's definitely a major pivotal decade in the show's history.