Saturday, 20 March 2010

1980s Emmerdale: No Spectacular Stunts Or Disasters...

James has written:

All due respect to Emmerdale in the 1980s, but don't you think a livelier approach may have paid dividends? OK, watching Mr Wilks and Mrs Bates was fun at times, but one of the show's greatest claims to fame these days is its spectacular disasters. Don't you think that a few of those might have livened up the '80s show? Surely the show could have benefited from being a bit racier?

Hmmm... well, I don't agree, James.

Emmerdale Farm/Emmerdale changed tremendously in the 1980s. The number of scenes per episode was increased, new characters and performers came in, the show became grittier and rather more graphic (the 1986 fight between Matt Skilbeck and Harry Mowlam was horribly realistic), and it did become racier: we saw Jackie Merrick pulling up his pyjama trousers after apparently having just had sex with his girlfriend on the parlour sofa at Emmerdale Farm; Sandie Merrick moved in with married man Phil Pearce; Jack Sugden had an affair with Hotten Market auctioneer Karen Moore - complete with hotel bedroom scenes; married man Pete Whiteley's affair with teenager Rachel Hughes rocked the village; and the Skilbecks divorced after Dolly's dalliance with Steven Fuller.

I think that the show was making an effort to move with the times - but the portrayal was still of a quiet, English village - and the scenes with Amos, Mr Wilks, Mrs Bates, Alan Turner, Annie Sugden, etc, were hugely important to the show's setting and atmosphere - and, I think, immensely enjoyable!

The show also entered highly controversial and topical waters in 1987 with its nuclear dump story-line.

As for spectacular stunts, it's true Emmerdale in the 1980s was bereft of them. The Crossgill fire story-line of 1988 was expensive and complicated to produce at the time, but nothing compared to the plane crash, storm, explosions, fires and house collapse of more recent years.

But in the 1980s the technology now used to affordably produce spectacular disasters on-screen in a soap was either non-existence or in its infancy and expensive.

Also, our expectations of the show were different. I liked Amos and Jackie grumbling away from episode to episode and an occasional bit of high drama. For me it was in the 1980s that the show struck the perfect balance between dramatic and everyday story-lines.

I'd be interested to know what readers think!


  1. t'witch28.3.10

    I agre with you. I don't like the current tendency to heavily feature the new
    families in dramatic stories and forget about the longterm residents and ordinary village life.
    Much of the appeal of Emmerdale lay in its difference. We don't want a carbon copy of other soaps.

  2. Anonymous8.4.10

    The 80's episodes are golden. But time moves on.