08 April 2012

1982: Emmerdale Farm's 10th Anniversary

The Press Pack logo for the tenth anniversary.

From our sister blog, The Beckindale Bugle:

October 1982 saw a very special anniversary for Emmerdale Farm. The show completed its first decade on-screen, having first been shown as a lunchtime soap on 16 October 1972.

To celebrate, Yorkshire Television screened a special programme - A Decade Down On The Farm, featuring the show's creator, Kevin Laffan, and the remaining original cast members, Sheila Mercier (Annie Sugden), Toke Townley (Sam Pearson), Frazer Hines (Joe Sugden), Frederick Pyne (Matt Skilbeck), Ronald Magill (Amos Brearly) and Arthur Pentelow (Henry Wilks) reflecting on ten years of the programme.

The show was presented by Yorkshire Television presenter Richard Whiteley (who, from November 1982, would become nationally famous as presenter of Channel Four's Countdown).

Kevin Laffan was interviewed by Richard Whiteley at Lindley Farm, then the exterior location for Emmerdale Farm:

Richard: "Kevin, I suppose at the time when it was suggested, everyone just said: 'What's this going to be - just a TV version of The Archers'?"

Kevin: "Yes, they did - but, of course, it isn't - nothing like it."

Richard: "In what way is it different?"

Kevin: "Well, we're not aimed at giving information to farmers to start with. We are simply concerned with showing a family living its life on a farm."

Richard: "And is the idea we should envy this family living on the farm?"

Kevin: "Yes, the idea... when we first talked about the serial, the idea was that we would create a situation where we would have a programme that people living in cities, engaged in the routine business of earning a living, would be able to see the kind of life that they would perhaps want to escape to."

Location filming for episode 759 in 1982.

Filming in Esholt (Beckindale) in 1982 - Pat Merrick (Helen Weir) and her son, Jackie (Ian Sharrock) chat at the bus stop.

Richard interviewed Sheila Mercier, standing at the gate of Lindley farmhouse:

"Now the viewer totally identifies you with living in this house here and leaning on this gate here, looking over the farmyard. It's not your house, but I wonder after ten years do you sometimes think you do live here, and it is your house?"

Sheila: "Yes, very often, I look around - I think 'It's all mine'. Yes, I would like to live here."

Richard: "Would you like to be a farmer's wife?"

Sheila: "In many ways I would, yes. I love the country life and I love animals, and I talk to all the calves when they're little."

Richard: "In the series, you spend all your time in the kitchen, you're always cooking or making cups of tea or washing up. What sort of a life is that?"

Sheila: "Well, I must've made thousands of cups of tea, and goodness knows how many breakfasts, and lunches and suppers. It just seems to go on forever!"

Richard: "And all the family [actors] that sit round the table for these gorgeous meals you make, you regard them all as your family, do you?"

Sheila: "Oh, yes, of course I do. They have become my second family. It's a long time we've been here."

Richard discussed Sam Pearson with Toke Townley:

Richard: "You [Sam] stick up for all the old values in life."

Toke: "That right - that's true, he does."

Richard: "You [Sam] don't particularly like the pace of modern day life?"

Toke: "No. I think particularly he doesn't like the way people go on from his point of view, he was brought up so differently. And he does incline also to dislike the modern machinery up to a point, you know, saying horses always did it better."

Richard interviewed Frederick Pyne (Matt Skilbeck):

Richard: "Now, in the last ten years you've had one or two dramas in your life, you've lost one wife, you've lost your twins, and in fact, in a way, you've lost your second wife, haven't you?" [The role of Dolly Skilbeck was recast in 1980].

Frederick: "Mmm, well I've been very lucky really, I've been married twice but I've had three women!"

Richard: "You're smiling now, but it's quite well known that you don't smile a great deal - you're not a great smiler in the series."

Frederick: "No, well they won't let me, you see, they always make me miserable. I'm supposed to be a dour Dales farmer. I don't think they all go around like that really all the time, but then you don't smile a lot if you lose half your family every other year, do you?"

An extract from Richard Whiteley's interview with Ronald Magill (Amos Brearly):

Richard: "After ten years of playing the landlord of The Woolpack, I suppose you feel like the landlord of The Woolpack, don't you?"

Ronald: "I suppose I do. Funnily enough, I feel a landlord more off-duty than on, because I spend so much of my time with my friends in the Licensed Victuallers' Association and they do accept me as one of them."

Richard: "Would you make a good landlord, do you think, in real life?"

Ronald (smiling): "Oh, I don't think so - it's too much like hard work!"

And so on to the Press Pack...

The cover of the 10th Anniversary Celebration Press Pack showing: Frazer Hines (Joe Sugden since the first episode), Arthur Pentelow (Henry Wilks since the first episode), the Reverend Donald Hinton (Hugh Manning, who debuted in 1977), Frederick Pyne (Matt Skilbeck since episode one), Clive Hornby (Jack Sugden since 1980), Sheila Mercier (Annie Sugden since the first episode), Stan Richards (who debuted as a temporary character called Seth Armstrong in 1978, and became a central character over a period of time, finally becoming a Woolpack regular in 1980), Jane Hutcheson (Sandie Merrick since 1980), Ronald Magill (Amos Brearly since episode one), Toke Townley (Sam Pearson since episode one), Helen Weir (Pat Merrick since 1980), Richard Thorp (Alan Turner since 1982), Jean Rogers (Dolly Skilbeck since 1980) and Ian Sharrock (Jackie Merrick since 1980).

Cheers! Key members of the 1982 Emmerdale Farm cast toast the show's first decade.

Included in the 10th Anniversary Press Pack was a notepad, each page featuring a charming drawing of some of the central Emmerdale Farm characters - Matt, Annie, Henry, Amos, Sam, Joe, Jack, Donald, Dolly and Nell the faithful sheepdog!

From the Press Pack:

Yorkshire Television, together with author Kevin Laffan, created "Emmerdale Farm", the story of the Sugden family and their friends and neighbours in the Yorkshire Dales village of Beckindale.

Says Kevin Laffan: "I was approached by YTV with a simple brief for a three-month serial - 'write 26 episodes about a Yorkshire farm' ".

It was an original and conscious decision to make the series quiet and gentle-paced, reflecting the lifestyle and the seasons of the countryside. There would be emotional stresses and conflicts among the characters but very few watch-next-week, cliff-hanging dramas. The accent was to be firmly on people and their relationships set against the splendid back-drop of some of the most beautiful countryside in England - the Yorkshire Dales...

And an early decision was also taken to record FIFTY per cent of the story on location - unheard of in the history of producing such long-running television series...

Beckindale's "Woolpack", as in any village, is the hub of community life. This is where gossip abounds, listened to with careful interest by landlord and local Hotten Courier correspondent Amos Brearly.

People love a traditional pint and a chinwag - who's doing what, when and why? - but there is little maliciousness in Emmerdale's talk. The folk of Beckindale belong to a now rare community where, though there may be occasional differences, they care about each other.

And they have cared for TEN years.

Making it into the papers - the Sunday Mirror, 10 October, 1982, notes the impending Emmerdale anniversary.

The TV Times honoured the show with a special 10th Anniversary souvenir magazine.

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