08 April 2009

Emmerdale Farm 1982: The Arrival Of Alan Turner - Saviour of NY Estates!

Joe Sugden was setting up a pig unit and expecting his first delivery on Alan Turner's first day at NY Estates in 1982. "So I'm arriving at the same time as fifty pigs, am I? I hope that's not ominous!" said Alan.

The SAVIOUR of NY Estates? The bungling Alan Turner?! Well, yes, he was! The NY Estates Beckindale operation would have been wound up in 1982 if it hadn't been for our Mr T! The show's production team felt that the NY story-line had run its course and it was time for changes.

In the story-line, NY Estates was a large company with many holdings. Its impersonal ways were to bring the company into conflict with the village of Beckindale.

In the company's early days in Beckindale, we saw poor elderly tenant Nellie Ratcliffe almost evicted from her cottage. NY was a villain!

Then the NY scenario became soapier, as manager Maurice Westrop coped with his troubled daughter, Judy.

After the Westrops' departure in 1980, we saw new manager Richard Anstey take on local boy Joe Sugden as farm manager late in the year. The NY saga moved out of the office to introduce us to the workforce, who were brewing for industrial action. A topical and gritty story-line.

Joe Sugden (Frazer Hines), son of Annie, went to work for Richard Anstey at NY Estates in late 1980.

In 1981, NY moved back to soapier ground as Richard Anstey had an affair with the regional manager's wife - and was then given the boot. Joe Sugden took over temporarily and then, in March 1982, Alan Turner made his debut as manager. The production team decided that all the NY avenues had been explored, so now it was time to try something new. NY would depart from Beckindale.

Richard Thorp, who played Alan, expected to be in Emmerdale Farm for six months:

"But I got such a rapport going, first with Stan Richards as Seth Armstrong, and later with Diana Davies, who played Alan's secretary, Mrs Bates, that the powers that be liked it and kept it."

Mr Turner and Seth Armstrong became one of the show's funniest double acts and Alan's oft-repeated catchphrase "GET OUT, SETH!" was greatly appreciated by viewers.

Alan and gamekeeper Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) became a great comic pairing in 1980s Emmerdale Farm.

Originally introduced as an inadequate, cold hearted swine, it quickly became apparent that there was more to Alan's character. He was lonely. He was unhappy. Under the bombast was a vulnerable man who wasn't all bad. His marriage was just about over. His son, Terence, was an arrogant user. And Alan was actually a bit of a sweety at times.

In 1984 came Mrs Caroline Bates (or "Mrs Bates" as we knew her) - Alan's temporary secretary. "Temporary" was the word - the character was not intended to be permanent - but quickly became so. She saw through Alan's idiotic ranting to the daft little boy underneath and was amused.

Interviewed in 1993, Richard Thorp said:

"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."

Signed 1980s pics of Richard Thorp and Diana Davies - Richard made his Emmerdale Farm debut as Alan Turner in 1982, Diana Davies arrived as Mrs Bates in 1984.

The scenes at NY were often hilarious, although the corporate story-lines also continued. In 1986, Alan told Mrs Bates that his boss, Joe Sugden, had a filofax - then a potent symbol of yuppiedom - where his heart should be.

NY Estates finally withdrew from Beckindale in 1988, but the man who prolonged its stay - Alan Turner - remains in Emmerdale to this day!

And I remember the days of Alan and Mrs Bates, in the NY office at Home Farm from 1984-1988, as being something of a golden era.

Read more '80s Emmerdale details at The Beckindale Bugle.

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