A newspaper article about the changing face of Dolly Skilbeck from March 1980.
1 April 2010 was the thirtieth anniversary of actress Jean Rogers making her screen debut as Dolly Skilbeck of Emmerdale Farm. Jean took over the role from Katharine Barker, who hadn't been seen on-screen since the previous summer.
Of course, bedding down into a role originally played by somebody else is never easy, but Jean soon made the character of Dolly her very own - and we here at The Bugle remember her fondly.
Matt (Frederick Pyne), Dolly (Jean Rogers), young Sam (Benjamin Whitehead) and Joe (Frazer Hines) in a scene from 1986.
Jean Rogers became Dolly Skilbeck on 1 April 1980 (allow for a few days' regional variations in ITV's schedules!). It was very rare for a member of the Sugden family circle to be recast, and the Skilbecks were very much part of that circle, but in 1980 producer Anne W Gibbons took the bull by the horns, recasting both Jack Sugden - Clive Hornby took on the role last played by Andrew Burt a few years previously - and Dolly, when actress Katharine Barker left the show.
Interviewed in 1983, Jean Rogers recalled:
"I was recruited to take over the Dolly Skilbeck part from actress Katharine Barker. We looked alike, of course, and it was important that the continuity of character be maintained for as long as possible.
"But that posed a major problem: was I playing the part of Dolly, or the part of Katharine playing Dolly?
"I knew I wouldn't be able to sustain a double-role indefinitely, so I slowly eased Katharine's presence out of the role and established my own identity.
"It was a long, slow task - but after a couple of years I finally received a letter from a viewer who said I was doing OK, and that no-one could now recall what the first Dolly Skilbeck was like."