Sunday, 9 August 2015

Beckindale 1983 - Behind The Scenes...

I know several actors, and, for the majority, it's a funny old life. There they are, one month serving in a wine bar or doing a Christmas temp job at Boots, the next doing a bit-part in Emmerdale, the next "resting", the next auditioning for a stage play and probably not getting the part...

Of course, for many actors a regular role in a long-running soap is a dream (and for some, given current standards of a lot of the plots, it's also a nightmare), but back in the 1980s it was a funny old life working on Emmerdale Farm or Coronation Street or whatever. Today, much soap drama depends on the out of the ordinary, the bizarre, the downright absurd, but back in the 1980s the majority of soap action centred on people nattering about, and doing, everyday things.

And that must have been exceedingly difficult to convey with a load of technical paraphernalia all around, plus being watched and directed by a load of people the actors had to pretend didn't exist.

Here's Jean Rogers (Dolly Skilbeck since 1980), Sheila Mercier (Annie Sugden since episode one), Toke Townley (Grandad Sam Pearson since episode one) and Frederick Pyne and Frazer Hines (Matt Skilbeck and Joe Sugden - both original cast members) standing around in the rain at a Beckindale event in 1983, with little Sam Skilbeck (born 1982) out of vision, apparently asleep in his pram.

Annie's plastic headscarf (14p from Woolies - a snip!) is such an important style detail in setting the tone.

Just how "everyday" and of their time the cast looks, and the fact that they are conversing in character, apparently oblivious of the onlookers and the sound boom hovering above, is something I find fascinating.

Skill, or what?


  1. Anonymous19.8.15

    A lot of viewers seem to think that the village's original name of Beckindale has been forgotten about since they renamed it Emmerdale in May 1994, but I've managed to find the following:


    Episode 1986 (29th June 1995) - Alan warns Biff that he has 48 hours to remove the caravan from the Woolpack car park. Biff reminds him of the ancient Beckindale Charter quoted by Seth from 1797 which said that any man is entitled to a peaceful tenancy if he spends 2 consecutive nights on common land.

    Episode 2220 (24th June 1997) - Andy tells Becky & Sarah that there was a Battle of Beckindale in the civil war ; he is suddenly interested in finding out more.

    Episode 2221 (25th June 1997) - Andy wants to carry on learning about the Battle of Beckindale because Becky has brought some old maps round.

    Episode 2231 (17th July 1997) - A crowd has appeared at the Dingles Civil War Exhibition & Zak makes a speech about the Battle of Beckindale.

    Episode 2632 (4th January 2000) - Seth welcomes Ashley to the Woolpack as the new 'Beast of Beckindale', he's hailed as a hero.

    Episode 3506 (7th August 2003) - Rodney and Jarvis discuss the fact that Mill Cottage is on the original site of Beckindale Priory and could be worth a lot of money.

    1. That's interesting! Any more Beckindale mentions in the modern day version of the serial to report?

  2. Whatever happened to Biff?