Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Emmerdale Cast Of 1988

Here's a nice shot of the cast of Emmerdale Farm outside The Woolpack in 1988.

They were (left to right, beginning with the back rows):

Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards), Phil Pearce (Peter Alexander), Reverend Donald Hinton (Hugh Manning), Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill), Sandie Merrick (Jane Hutcheson), Henry Wilks (Arthur Pentelow), Nick Bates (Cy Chadwick), Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby), Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines), Alan Turner (Richard Thorp), Archie Brooks (Tony Pitts), Mrs Bates (Diana Davies), Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock).

Seated:

Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne), Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers), Sam Skilbeck (Benjamin Whitehead), Robert Sugden (Christopher Smith), Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier), Kathy Merrick (Malandra Burrows).

Emmerdale Farm: 1980 Was Slightly Delayed...

The path out of the grim 1970s into the turbulent 1980s was not easy for Emmerdale Farm. Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) bridged the gap with a voice-over.

Beginning the 1980s was not exactly straightforward for Emmerdale Farm.

The ITV strike of 1979 had disrupted episode broadcasts and recordings. The show had last aired on 5 July 1979 (Emmerdale Farm was not shown all year round in those days) and several episodes for the next 1979 season, due to begin around early September, were in preparation, when the strike knocked ITV off our screens.

The strike severely disrupted Emmerdale Farm, and the show was off-air until the 8th, 9th or 10th of January 1980 (depending on which ITV region you viewed it in!).

The publicity blurb for the first 1980 episode revealed the ITV regions' differing schedules:

FULL ITV NETWORK (except STV/WTV/CHA) Tuesday, JANUARY 8, 1980.

STV Wednesday, JANUARY 9, 1980

WTV/CHA Thursday, January 10, 1980 } times vary

The production team was able to adapt, complete and use six episodes originally intended for the 1979 late summer/early autumn season to begin 1980.

The problem was that story-lines and exterior scenes clearly reflected the fact that it was summer. And the production team could not pretend that the late summer-themed shows intended for 1979 were actually set in the winter of 1980.

So, a little ingenuity was needed.

At the start of the January 1980 season, Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) introduced the first episode in a voice-over, reflecting on the events of the previous summer, and over the next few weeks we saw six episodes which filled us in on some of the Beckindale events of 1979 that we'd missed courtesy of the ITV strike.

The synopsis for that first episode shown in 1980 read:

It's winter at Emmerdale, but Annie finds herself thinking back to last Summer. It was a busy time at the farm with new land to work and prospects looked bright for the Sugdens. But there was a shock in store for all of them - especially Matt.

On 29 January 1980, the Emmerdale Farm story-line suddenly moved into 1980, with Annie, again in voice-over, informing us of relevant events of the missing months.

The synopsis for the first episode actually set in 1980 read:

It is winter at Emmerdale and Sam Pearson is causing disruption with his renewed interest in wine making. But N.Y Estates shepherd Jesse Gillin discovers another kind of disruption - and it's a threat to the whole landscape of Beckindale.

All-in-all, the "what we did last summer" strand worked very well indeed, cheering up most of January 1980 (Emmerdale Farm closely reflected the seasons and winter episodes could seem grim), filling us in on some missed stories, and giving the production team time to work on fresh episodes for the new decade.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Emmerdale 1989: Annie Sugden Goes Dancing, Amos Brearly Gets Into Crop Circles, Alan Turner Becomes Nick Kamen And Rachel Hughes Plays With Fire...

Here we take the time tunnel back to 1989 - a highly dramatic year which saw, amongst other things, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the invention of the World Wide Web, which would bring computers into all our lives in the 1990s.

Below are some extracts from an Emmerdale Farm script - episode 1390, broadcast on 28 September 1989. My copy of the script was used by actor Martin Dale, Police Sergeant Ian MacArthur in the show from 1980 to 1994.

At Emmerdale Farm, Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) enjoys a mug of cocoa with Eddie Hughes (Geoffrey Banks), father of Annie's daughter-in-law, Kate (Sally Knyvette):

SC. 2. INT. FARM PARLOUR. NIGHT. 3.

TIME: 22.15
EDDIE AND ANNIE ON THE SOFA WITH COCOA.

ANNIE: Are you sure you didn't mind leaving the dance early?

EDDIE: No, no. Once they start into the Latin American I've had it anyway. How's your knees?


ANNIE: Better than they deserve to be. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed dancing. You're very good, Eddie.


EDDIE: Aye, I know. Used to go down the Conservative Club.


ANNIE: (TEASING) And what's a good steelworker doing down the Conservative Club, may I ask?


EDDIE: (GRIN) Using the dance floor. It were a good one. (BEAT) You should come and try it.


ANNIE: Sorry?


EDDIE: Come and stay for a weekend, and I'll take you dancing again. They'll not miss you for a day or two.


ANNIE: (GENTLE) Thanks, Eddie, but I don't think so. If you don't mind.


EDDIE: As long as you don't mind me asking.


ANNIE: I'm very flattered.


EDDIE: So you should be. I've not asked a lass back for a weekend since before the war. She said no as well. (BEAT) It's quiet here, isn't it? Where is everybody?


ANNIE: Still down at the pub, I imagine. They always have a bit of a celebration come harvest home.


At The Woolpack Inn, Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill) ponders a mystery, whilst Mr Wilks exhibits signs of jealousy...

SC. 4. INT. WOOLPACK BAR. NIGHT. 3.

TIME: 23.15

AMOS AND WILKS CLOSING AND CLEARING UP.

AMOS: I don't understand it, Mr Wilks. One minute it's standing room and mind your backs, next minute it's like the Marie Celeste. What's going on?

WILKS: (DISINTERESTED) No idea.

AMOS: It's that beer. First thing in the morning I'm writing a strong letter to the brewery.

WILKS: You do that.

AMOS: Joe, Matt. (BEAT) Jock and Bill. I mean usually I have to take the yard-broom to 'em. Even Annie and her Eddie only stayed -

WILKS: He is not her Eddie, he's - he's a visitor. She only left because she'd promised to go to some daft dance with him.

AMOS: Yes, I know, I'm sorry.

WILKS: Sorry? No need to say sorry to me, Amos. No skin off my nose.

AMOS: No, but -

WILKS: The person that should be saying sorry is that Eddie. Dragging her off like that. She's not the dancing sort. Too polite for her own good.

With Denis Rigg dead and the harvest at Home Farm unharvested, locals move to bring it in. When Annie Sugden finds out, she is furious and wastes no time in giving her family a tongue lashing. Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) is one of those on the receiving end:

ANNIE: Well? What have you got to say for yourselves?

KATE: Sorry, I'm not with you.

ANNIE: Oh yes you are, my girl. You're part of this family now, and what goes for them goes for you too.

JOE: Now hang on a minute -

ANNIE: You be quiet! I'm ashamed of the lot of you!

MATT: But what have we done?

Annie: (BEAT) Taken me for a fool for a start. D'you seriously think I've not heard the talk of the Home Farm wheat? And d'you seriously think when I hear the machinery coming into the yard at midnight I can't put two and two together? Did you get permission?

JOE: Hardly.

ANNIE: Then it's theft. Plain and simple.

JOE: It's not a simple theft at all, Ma, it's... it's - getting a harvest in! We haven't thoight about what to do with it yet.

ANNIE: (CYNICAL) Oh aye?

KATE: Nobody's been told to harvest. Have you forgotten the damage Rigg and his lot did to us? That was worse than theft!

ANNIE: (NOT QUITE SO CERTAIN) Two wrongs don't make a right and never did!

JOE: They owe us, Ma.

MATT: It'll rot where it stands if we don't get it in.

ANNIE: What d'you mean it WILL rot? Have you not finished?

JOE: (BEAT) Not quite.

Matt (LOW) You're not going to tell us to leave it, are you Ma?

ON ANNIE MAKING A DIFFICULT DECISION.

CUT TO...

Teenager Rachel Hughes (Glenda McKay) and married man Pete Whiteley (Jim Millea) are beginning an ill-fated love affair...

PETE: I am glad you came over.

RACHEL: Are you?

PETE: Yes.

RACHEL: Didn't have much choice really.

PETE: What d'you mean?

RACHEL: Just what I say. I don't seem to be in control any more. When you whistle I come running.

PETE: It's the same for me.

RACHEL: (SHAKES HEAD, SMILES) I don't think it is.

PETE: Alright, I don't run. I drive. I sit outside schools.

RACHEL: How did you know I'd come out?

PETE: (SHRUGS) I didn't. I just had to chance it.

RACHEL: (STATEMENT, NOT QUESTION) It's not just a one night stand, is it.

PETE: Doesn't look like it.

RACHEL: (WHISPER) Good. (BEAT) It's funny. Specially being here. Sometimes I hate Lynn.

PETE: Why?

RACHEL: I don't know. Straight jealousy, I suppose. She's got you and I haven't. I keep wanting to tell her what a good thing she's got.

PETE LOOKS ALARMED.

RACHEL: Don't worry, I won't. (LAUGH) It's pathetic, really, isn't it! Not rocking the boat 'cause you know you'll be the first one overboard if you do.

Amos - seen in our picture with Walter (Al Dixon) in 1985 - thinks that aliens are visiting Beckindale as crop circles hit the 1989 headlines and a field at Home Farm. He gets Mr Winstanley, an enthusiast from a local university, to come and have a look at them. Accompanied by Bill Whiteley (Teddy Turner) they make their way to the Home Farm field:

TIME: 13.30

AMOS, WHITELEY AND WINSTANLEY ARE WALKING TOWARDS THE FIELD. THEY DO NOT SEE AT FIRST THAT IT IS NOW HARVESTED.

WHITELEY: T'others have been taking the mickey out of Amos - reckoning it were space ships or some such twaddle.

AMOS: (QUICKLY) What ignorant folk say, Bill Whiteley, is of no interest to intelligentsia. Mr Winstanley here'll soon be able to make up his own mind. (HE TAKES OUT A NOTEBOOK) I measured them, you know. They were twenty one foot precisely... or as precisely as I could measure not having a measure with me, but happen you'll have one of those... and they were... (SMILES) Well, you can see for yourself.

THEY GO THROUGH A GATE/OVER A STYLE AND ARRIVE AT FIELD.

ALL THREE STARE AT A FIELD OF STUBBLE. AMOS GOBSMACKED.

AMOS: Heck.

WINSTANLEY RAISES HIS EYEBROWS QUIZZICALLY. AMOS SCURRIES INTO THE FIELD.

AMOS: Honestly, Mr Winstanley. This was the centre of one, (PACING, GESTICULATING) and... and it reached over to about here... and there was another one just that way... and a third one over there... (HE LOOKS HOPEFULLY AT WINSTANLEY, BUT THERE IS NO RESPONSE). You know, like I said, in a sort of triangle. (HE LOOKS DOWN) Look, look, if you come here you can still see where some of the stubble's bent over.

WHITELEY: That's 'cause you've stood on it.

CUT TO...

Nick Kamen thrilled the girlies by stripping off his jeans in the famous ad of the mid-1980s. Emmerdale had its own version of this scenario in 1989, as Mrs Bates (Diana Davies) returned to the house in Beckindale she shared with Alan Turner, unexpectedly bringing her mother, Alice (Olivia Jardith). Thanks to Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards), Alan had got landed with doing some (literally) dirty work for a change and he arrived home, tired and unkempt.

TIME 16.03

TURNER STANDS IN THE KITCHEN, PUTTING KETTLE ON, TAKING SOCKS AND SHOES OFF, FOLLOWED BY SHIRT AND TROUSERS, WHICH HE BUNDLES INTO WASHING MACHINE IN THE MANNER OF THE "LEVI 501" AD. IT IS NOT A PRETTY SIGHT. AS HE IS REMOVING HIS TROUSERS, ALICE PASSES THE DOORWAY, AND GASPS IN UNDERSTANDABLE SURPRISE. TURNER JUMPS OUT OF HIS SKIN AND PULLS TROUSERS UP AGAIN.

TURNER: Who the devil are you?

CUT TO...

Other events of the episode...

Amos discovered that Mr Winstanley, the man he believed was a university professor interested in crop circles, was actually a university caretaker; Eric Pollard (Christopher Chittell) got wind of the harvesting going on at Home Farm and began to make comments; Joe wanted Kate to have a baby. They talked and Kate confessed that she was finding it hard to give up her independence and that although she was happy to be married to Joe, she also felt invaded...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

1980 Emmerdale: Pam St Clement As Mrs Eckersley...

Josh writes:

I'm a huge fan of Pat in EastEnders, and I've heard that Pam St Clement was briefly in Emmerdale in the 80's. Do you know anything about this? She played a woman called Eckersley.

Yes, Josh - Pam St Clement played Mrs Eckersley in Emmerdale Farm, making her debut in episode 561, broadcast in March 1980. She was in the show for five episodes.

Mrs Eckersley was a Beckindale local, and was called into help at Emmerdale Farm when Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) and her father, Sam Pearson (Toke Townley), went on a competition-won holiday to Ireland.

She was a capable woman, well able to step into Annie's shoes.

Mrs Eckersley's family consisted of her husband, Harold (Roger Hammond), and teenage daughter, Esmarelda (Debbie Farrington). Esmarelda had written a book and was distressed when her manuscript was rejected by the publishers she'd sent it to.

The newly returned (and recast) Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby), himself a published author, helped Esmarelda through her disappointment.

Locals though they were, once this story-line was complete, the Eckersleys were never seen or heard of in the show again - quite common in those days!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

1984: The Shooting Of Bundle...

When Caroline Bates (Diana Davies) brought her Golden Labrador bitch, Bundle, into work at NY Estates one day in April 1984, she assured Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) that it was a temporary measure. The Bates family was living in a flat at that time, and Caroline's husband, Malcolm, usually returned home from work in his lunch hour to take Bundle out for a walk. But Malcolm was away for a few days, and Caroline felt that she couldn't leave Bundle cooped up in the flat all day.

And, she said, Bundle was used to farms.

As NY Beckindale manager, Alan should have known better: every farmer knows, no risks should be taken with dogs. But Alan simply accepted Caroline's word, and said that Bundle could have free reign at Home Farm.

Shortly after this, Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) and Jackie Merrick (Ian Sharrock) made a grim discovery: two of the Emmerdale ewes had aborted the lambs they were carrying. Something had obviously alarmed them.

Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) came across Jackie burying the aborted lambs, and reflected grimly on the bad old days at Emmerdale: a dog or fox worrying the sheep was the one thing absolutely sure to bring her husband, Jacob, from The Woolpack, she said. And he would keep grim vigil with his gun.

And so the Emmerdale gun was brought out.

Shortly afterwards, Jackie was out on the farm with his mother, Pat (Helen Weir), when both witnessed Bundle worrying the sheep. Jackie fired the shotgun, and Bundle ran away.

Jackie took the news to Home Farm and found Caroline firmly in denial: Bundle was a loving family pet and used to farms - she simply wouldn't do such a thing. Alan backed her up - how dare the Merrick boy cast such a slur on his secretary's dog?

Jackie left them with a grim warning - if it happened again, he might end up shooting Bundle.

Meanwhile, Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) had organised a visit to Emmerdale Farm for the Beckindale playgroup children to see the sheep and new lambs.

And it was on that day that Bundle chose to pay another visit, let off her lead by Alan whilst out for a walk with Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards).

Seth advised Alan not to let Bundle run free, but Alan fully expected her to stay close by, and was horrified when she ran off across the fields towards Emmerdale Farm.

And in no time at all, she was terrorising the sheep, in full view of the equally terrified Beckindale playgroup children.

And, in full view of the children, Jackie shot her dead.

It wasn't the most sensitive thing to do, but, highly distressed himself, Jackie took Bundle's body to Caroline at Home Farm in the Emmerdale Land Rover.

And Caroline was absolutely distraught.

As was Jackie. He had begun to develop a feeling for farming and the animals at Emmerdale, including Nell, Matt's faithful sheepdog, and was horrified by what he'd done.

Jack (Clive Hornby) told Jackie that he'd been lucky - as Matt or Joe (Frazer Hines) had usually dealt with sheep worrying dogs. And they had always felt awful afterwards.

But Jackie was not in the wrong. It was not a crime to shoot a dog under such circumstances.

Caroline could not believe it - she was convinced that Bundle had meant no harm to the sheep - and to her mind her dog had been murdered in cold blood.

She visited Sergeant MacArthur (Martin Dale) at the Beckindale police station, who informed her that no law had been broken. The police would be bringing no charges against Jackie.

So, Caroline and Malcolm Bates decided to bring a civil action.

Why had Bundle been let off her lead, she wondered? Alan lied to protect himself - claiming that something had gone awry with the clasp on Bundle's lead, and he'd been adjusting it when, distracted by Seth Armstrong's chattering, he'd momentarily let go of the dog's collar and away she'd gone across the fields.

It was all very sad for Alan. As he confided in Seth Armstrong, he had meant no harm in letting Bundle off for a run.

But, through that simple action, his inexperience as a farmer was made absolutely plain.

Seth was in a difficult position - he had his job to think of, and wasn't about to drop Alan in it, but when Caroline asked him for the truth, promising not to reveal her source, Seth told her.

Caroline was furious and lost no time in telling Alan so.

Alan fully expected her to resign, and dreaded the prospect.

Meanwhile, Matt Skilbeck had visited Home Farm on an entirely different matter, and struck by Caroline's cold front, had spoken to her about Bundle: Jackie was very distressed about the dog's death, he said, they had sheepdogs at the farm and cared for them a great deal. The fault was not Bundle's - dogs had an instinct to hunt. The fault rested with whoever had let Bundle off the lead, and the same went for other dogs like her that met an untimely end for sheep worrying.

Caroline remained convinced that Bundle would never have hurt the sheep, but was simply enjoying the chase. Matt gently pointed out to her that whatever Bundles' intentions, six aborted lambs was the result.

Having already met several of the Emmerdale Farm folk, Caroline called there and told Dolly that she and Malcolm would not be bringing any action against Jackie. She still didn't condone what he had done, but Matt had made her think.

Alan bought Caroline another Golden Labrador bitch - this time a puppy - and took it into The Woolpack so that he could have a courage-giving drink before making the presentation to Caroline.

In conversation with Seth and Amos (Ronald Magill) Alan referred to Mrs Bates' present as a she. Giving her to Seth to hold so that he could enjoy his drink - thus stopping Seth, with an armful of Golden Labrador, from enjoying his, Alan beamed upon the world.

When Amos frostily informed him that dogs were not allowed on "these licenced premises", Alan, the expert, was completely unfazed. He told Amos that the dog was all right with him - and besides he was on a lead, and dogs were perfectly safe on a lead. The sudden change of the animal's gender made it plain that as far as Alan was concerned the only dog on the premises was not Mrs Bates' bitch Labrador, but Seth Armstrong!

Seth, arms still full of canine loveliness, still unable to sup, could only scowl.

Andy's note: This was very much a cautionary tale with a strong message for real-life dog owners. In 1984, the farming content of Emmerdale Farm was increased and we were treated to the sight of a cow and several sheep giving birth - and also mating scenes, plus the sorry sight of aborted lambs in the fields. The "Bundle" story-line was treated in the same visual way - viewers actually saw the shooting.

Some viewers wrote to Yorkshire Television, seeking reassurance that "Bundle" was only acting her death scene.

She was.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Emmerdale In The News - 1983: The Farmer's Wife Who Is Afraid Of Cows

Sunday Mirror, 3/7/1983:

"Emmerdale Farm" is making a quiet assault on the TV ratings. It is at number 5 in the ITV top ten, rivalling "Crossroads" for the title of Britain's most popular show after "Coronation Street"....

Helen Weir fled to a cast caravan as a gaggle of particularly loud and petulant geese played havoc with the film set outside.

Helen had no intention of tangling with them.

Even after three years with "Emmerdale Farm", 42-year-old Helen still can't cope with animals.

"I'm just terrified of horses," said Helen, who plays Pat, the wife of Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby). "And I hate going into a field of cows."

But the goat Pat Sugden looks after in the programme is helping Helen to get over her nervousness.

"The viewers have been marvellous," she said. "I'm always getting letters advising me on how to handle the goat."

Annabelle, Pat's goat, wreaked havoc, and formed part of an excellent storyline in which Pat, tired of criticism about her cooking, moved out of the kitchen a little and got out and about on the farm.

Back in 1983, many members of the cast believed that the show should have a prime time slot in the London area. But Sheila Mercier, the farm's matriarch Annie Sugden, did not agree...

Unlike her famous brother Brian Rix, the former king of the Whitehall farces, Sheila is shy and reserved and guards her privacy.

Thames TV's stubborn refusal to shift the series from their afternoon schedule suits Sheila just fine because she can live undisturbed by fans in Shepperton, Middlesex, with Peter, her husband and agent.

"Yes," admitted Sheila. "I am happy that the series goes out at a time when not many people are watching."

But something no viewer ever sees is the secret battle against pain which Sheila fights every time she gets on set. She is in constant agony with arthritis - and that's why the motherly, houseproud Annie is never seen scrubbing floors.

"I just can't kneel down," she explained. "I've tried everything from acupuncture to faith healing but it's still painful."

Sheila says there are few similarities between herself and Annie. "Annie is wise and I'm not. I'm not as compassionate as Annie. She is religious - and I'm not.

"But we're both good cooks."

Annie copes with a crisis in 1983: she has just discovered that her son Joe (Frazer Hines) is having an affair with the vicar's married daughter, Barbara Peters (Rosie Kerslake).

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.
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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.
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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.

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..."

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Alan Turner - Otherwise Known As!

Mr Bear in his den at NY Estates in 1986.

From the Sunday People, April 28, 1985:

FARM FUHRER

Emmerdale's awful Alan Turner may have acquired a reputation as a rural J.R. But his long suffering assistant Mrs Bates - actress Diana Davies - has her own way of describing him.

"He's a cross between Adolf Hitler and Pooh Bear - so I call him Adolf Bear."


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Eric Pollard - A Request...

Fiona writes to say:

Sheep are sheep, cows are cows, Amos is Amos and Walter is Walter, but can we cut to the chase and have a decent screen grab of the divine Chris Chittell as Eric Pollard, as he was when he first appeared in the 1980s?

You can, Fiona - above you'll find a screen capture of Eric on his very first visit to The Woolpack in 1986.

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.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Carl Rigg As Richard Anstey

Helen writes:

I recall Carl Rigg in the old soap General Hospital! Very interested to read on this site that he was in Emmerdale!

Yes, Richard Anstey managed NY Estates for a brief spell whilst Maurice Westrop (Edward Dentith) was away in early 1980. He returned later in the year when Maurice went to manage NY's holding in Wales.

Richard became friendly with Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines), and offered him the farm manager's post at the NY Beckindale holding in late 1980.

NY Estates policy sometimes created headaches. Richard did not relish clashes with the villagers over destroying an old hedgerow or creating a new area of conifer tree forest, but was well able to fulfill his role in Beckindale.

Richard was finally told to leave by NY boss Christopher Meadows (Conrad Phillips) in 1981, after it was discovered that he was having an affair with the regional manager's wife, Virginia Lattimore (Wanda Moore). Unrepentant Richard, who, it emerged, had courted controversy in the boardrooms of NY in the past, could not believe that Joe hadn't intentionally helped to bring about his downfall.

He left, talking of going abroad to work.