Friday, 21 May 2010

The British Soap Awards: "Emmerdale Didn't Take Off Until After The Plane Crash!" Oh, Really?

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"..

Sonia has watched The British Soap Awards, and is surprised at something said on that show:

I watched avidly and was startled to hear from Claire King that Emmerdale didn't take off until after the plane crash! Why on earth was it kept on for all those years beforehand? I was outraged!

Lol! Sonia. In terms of ratings, I think that Emmerdale had its highest ever for the plane crash drama. I have the monthly ratings from January 1994 which show it achieved 16.8 million viewers.

In February 1994, it scored under 11.2 million viewers, falling out of the Top Twenty monthly ratings completely, which surprised me.

Comparing more typical ratings, I went to November 1994 (well after the plane crash) to find the show scoring 11.5 million viewers, as compared to 12.5 million viewers ten years earlier in November 1984.

It can, and should be stated, that mainstream satellite TV was nowhere in 1984, so that would boost ratings for the show as there were only four channels to view, but it must also be stated that Emmerdale Farm wasn't properly networked in 1984 - major ITV regions Anglia and Thames were showing it at teatime, and many people were not aware of its existence, so it was doing very well indeed.

It should also be stated that satellite TV was not as established, popular or diverse as it is today back in 1994, the BARB monthly top twenty ratings were still composed of BBC and ITV programmes, and Emmerdale was then being shown countrywide in an early evening slot, so that probably evens the score.

Its ratings always appear to have fluctuated.

Perhaps the BSA speech writer has been reading Wikipedia?

I wouldn't be "outaged", Sonia. The statement is what I call a "Wiki-ism" (many people do trust Wikipedia - although it's the source of a lot of dodgy info!) and simply to be taken with a pinch of salt.

It was certainly great to see Claire King again!


  1. I thought it was horribly offensive - to the memory of Kevin Laffan, the show's creator and to the actors who established the show in the '70s and '80s - including Ronald Magill (Amos - 1972-1991), Arthur Pentelow (Mr Wilks - 1972-1991), Sheila Mercier (Annie Sugden - 1972-1995), Frederick Pyne (Matt Skilbeck - 1972-1989), Frazer Hines (Joe Sugden - 1972-1995), Jean Rogers (Dolly Skilbeck - 1980-1991), Tony Pitts (Archie Brooks - 1983-1993), Al Dixon (Walter - 1980-1985) and so on. I cherish the memory of the characters created by these actors in a way I simply don't regarding characters who have passed through the show in more recent years.

    And Richard Thorp and Chris Chittell, still both part of the cast, did sterling work in establishing the characters of Alan Turner and Eric Pollard long before 1993!

    Emmerdale is the only soap I know which doesn't seem to know the facts about, and openly attacks, its own past!

  2. I thought it was a daft speech. Modern Emmerdale seems to be trying to dissociate itself from its quality era, and, indeed, its roots. I agree with Claire King that the current show actually started in 1993. It was around then I switched off. The plane crash story-line was sick, a precursor to "quality" story-lines like somebody digging up a dead body and placing it in a grabage crusher.

  3. Anonymous21.5.10

    Modern Emmerdale isn't fit to lick '80s Emmerdale's boots! And to hear Mark Charnock sprouting off... what on earth gave him the knowledge or the RIGHT?! I'm seriously going off that programme. I used to watch it way back because it had great characters, believable drama and was sometimes thought provoking. Over the last seventeen years I've watched because it's enjoyable pantomime. But if they're going to start rewriting history and getting too full of themselves, there's plenty of other tat to watch - and I'll be switching OFF. The Amos years are LEGENDARY!!!

  4. I've never known a longrunning soap to dismiss it's first two decades in this way based on Wikipedia knowledge and I know people who still go into raptures over Annie Sugden or what Seth did to sabotage Amos's prize marrows in 1987 or whatever. I love Emmerdale, but this was odd.

  5. Anonymous21.5.10

    Looking at the clips the British Soap Awards chose for their Emmerdale retrospective, I feel it would have been more appropriate if Claire King had said: "It wasn't until the plane crash that Emmerdale became sensationalised trash".

  6. Gypsy21.5.10

    In 1985 the BBC put EastEnders against Emmerdale Farm in the same time slot. Emmerdale won the battle, and EastEnders was quickly rescheduled. If Emmerdale hadn't taken off in the 1980's, how did that happen?

  7. Anonymous21.5.10

    Didn't take off until after the plane crash? The news must of come as a surprise to Sheila Mercier, wonderful leading actress of its truly goden era.

  8. Anonymous16.9.10

    I was only 4 when the plane crash was aired but i have seen clips of earlier episodes and they were very good. Emmerdale has always been my favourite soap and i will still keep watching for a very long time.