For the 1994 debut album by The Cardigans, see Emmerdale (album).

Also known as 'Emmerdale Farm (1972–89)
Genre Soap opera
Created by Kevin Laffan
Starring Present cast
Former cast
Theme music composer Tony Hatch
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 7685
Executive producer(s) Various
(currently John Whiston)[1]
Producer(s) Various
(currently Iain MacLeod)[2]
Running time 22 mins (excluding advertisements)
Production company(s) ITV Studios
(Yorkshire Television)
Original network ITV
Picture format 576i (1972)
4:3 (1972–2001)
16:9 (2002–11)
1080i HD (2011–present)[3]
Original release 16 October 1972 (1972-10-16) – present
(44 years, 52 days)
External links

Emmerdale (known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989) is a long-running British soap opera set in Emmerdale (known as Beckindale until 1994), a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales. Created by Kevin Laffan, Emmerdale Farm was first broadcast on 16 October 1972. Produced by ITV Yorkshire, it has been filmed at their Leeds studio since its inception. The programme has been broadcast in every ITV region.

The series originally appeared during the afternoon until 1978, when it was moved to an early-evening time slot in most regions; London and Anglia followed during the mid-1980s. Until December 1988, Emmerdale took seasonal breaks; since then, it has been broadcast year-round.

Episodes air on ITV weekday evenings at 19:00, with a second Thursday episode at 20:00. The programme began broadcasting in high definition on 10 October 2011. Emmerdale is the United Kingdom's second-longest-running television soap opera (after ITV's Coronation Street), and attracts an average of five to seven million viewers per episode.

In October 2012, it was the 40th anniversary of the show. On the shows anniversary week, the show made a live episode to mark the anniversary.


The premise of Emmerdale Farm was similar to the BBC radio soap opera The Archers, focusing on a family, a farm and characters in a nearby village. The programme's farmyard filming was originally modelled on RTÉ's The Riordans, an Irish soap opera which was broadcast from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s. The Riordans broke new ground for soap operas by being filmed largely outdoors (on a farm, owned on the programme by Tom and Mary Riordan) rather than in a studio—the usual practice of British and American soap operas. The programme pioneered farmyard location shooting, with farm animals and equipment. During the 1960s and 1970s, outdoor filming of television programmes with outdoor broadcast units (OBUs) was in its infancy due to higher costs and reliance on the weather. The Riordans' success demonstrated that a soap opera could be filmed largely outdoors, and Yorkshire Television sent people to its set in County Meath to see the programme's production firsthand.[4][5]

Characters, residences and businesses

Emmerdale has had a large number of characters since it began, with its cast gradually expanding in size. The programme has also had changing residences and businesses for its characters, including a bed-and-breakfast and a factory.

The Miffield estate was the largest employer in the village of Beckindale, 39 miles (63 km) from Bradford and 52 miles (84 km) from Leeds. Lord Miffield leased Emmerdale Farm, on the edge of the village, to the Sugden family during the 1850s in gratitude after Josh Sugden sacrificed his life for the earl's son in the Crimean War. Josh's grandson Joseph married Margaret Oldroyd and their son, Jacob, was born in January 1916. During the 1930s, Jacob Sugden purchased Emmerdale Farm. In 1945 he married Annie Pearson, daughter of farm labourer Sam Pearson. Margaret Sugden died in 1963, and Joseph died the following year.

Jacob Sugden ran the farm into the ground, drinking away its profits. The badly-maintained farm's future looked bleak at his death on 10 October 1972. He was survived by his wife Annie, two sons and a daughter: Jack, the eldest; Peggy and Joe, the youngest of the three. These characters formed the basis of Emmerdale Farm.

Character types on Emmerdale have included "bad boys", such as Cain Dingle, Ross Barton, Carl King, Robert Sugden and Aaron Livesy; "bitches", such as Kim Tate, Charity Tate, Nicola King, Kelly Windsor and Sadie King; "villains", such as Cameron Murray, Lachlan White, Steph Stokes, Rosemary King, Gordon Livesy and Sally Spode; caring characters, such as Laurel Potts, Emily Kirk, Lisa Dingle, Paddy Kirk and Ruby Haswell; sassy women, such as Chas Dingle, Val Pollard, Viv Hope, Leyla Harding and Belle Dingle, and comedy characters such as Kerry Wyatt, Bernice Blackstock, David Metcalfe, Val Pollard, Seth Armstrong, Dan Spencer and Jimmy King. The show has had a number of matriarchs, including Diane Sugden, Viv Hope, Lisa Dingle, Annie Sugden and Moira Barton. Older characters in Emmerdale include Edna Birch, Betty Eagleton, Pearl Ladderbanks, Sandy Thomas, Seth Armstrong, Alan Turner, Sam Pearson, Lily Butterfield and Len Reynolds.

First episode

Six adults outdoors, in funeral clothing
The Sugden family in the first episode

The first episode of Emmerdale Farm, aired on 16 October 1972, began with Jacob Sugden's funeral. Jacob upset the family when he left the farm to his eldest son, Jack, who left home at 18 in 1964 and had not returned. Jack appeared in the opening episode, avoiding the funeral and waiting for the Sugdens at Emmerdale Farm. Over the next few months Jack sold a share of the farm to Annie, Joe, Peggy and his grandfather, Sam Pearson. Emmerdale Farm Ltd was formed when Henry Wilks bought Sam's share of the estate. The first episode, along with the others, have been repeated and released on a variety of media.[6]

Characters introduced in the first episode were:


First 21 years

The show's focus, initially on the farm and the Sugden family, moved to the nearby village of Beckindale. Reflecting this change, on 14 November 1989 its title was changed to Emmerdale. Coinciding with the title change was the introduction of the Tate family. These changes and more exciting storylines and dramatic episodes, such as Pat Sugden's 1986 car crash and the 1988 Crossgill fire, gradually began to improve the soap's popularity under new executive producer Keith Richardson. Richardson produced the programme for 24 years, overseeing its transformation from a minor, daytime, rural drama into a major UK soap opera.[7] The Windsor family arrived in 1993.

Plane crash and next 15 years

In October 1993 the show was 21 years old, and two months later a story was a turning point in its history. On 30 December 1993 Emmerdale attracted its highest-ever audience (over 18 million) when a plane crashed into the village, killing four people. The survivors had the village name changed from Beckindale to Emmerdale, to help them recover.

Emmerdale had dramatic storylines for the rest of the 1990s and new long-term characters, such as the Dingle family, were introduced. The Tates became the soap's leading family during the decade, overshadowing the Sugdens and remaining at Home Farm for 16 years. Family members left or died and the last, Zoe, left in 2005.

The early and mid-2000s included episodes with a storm (a similar, less-major storyline 10 years after the plane crash), a bus crash, the Kings River explosion, Sarah Sugden's death in a barn fire and the Sugden house fire (set in 2007 by Victoria Sugden, who was seeking the truth about her mother's death). It also saw the introduction of major long-term characters, including the King family and Cain and Charity Dingle (who left before returning in 2009).


In 2009 the longest-tenured character, Jack Sugden, was killed off after the death of actor Clive Hornby (who had played Jack since 1980). Jack's funeral featured the first on-screen appearance in 13 years of Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier). Early that year, executive producer Keith Richardson was replaced by former series producer Steve November (later replaced by John Whiston). Gavin Blyth became the series producer, followed by Stuart Blackburn after his death.

40th anniversary week and beyond

Emmerdale celebrated its 40th anniversary on 16 October 2012. On 1 May 2012, it was announced that the show would have its first-ever live episode.[8] On 25 June 2012, it was announced that Tony Prescott, who directed the 50th anniversary live episode of Coronation Street in December 2010 would direct the episode.[9] On 23 July it was reported that an ITV2 backstage show, Emmerdale Uncovered: Live, would be broadcast after the live episode.[10] On 14 August, it was announced that the production team was building a new Woolpack set for the live episode. Although Emmerdale's village and interior sets are miles apart, its producers wanted The Woolpack to feature in the live episode.[11] On 31 August, it was announced that Emmerdale had created and filmed a live music festival with performances by Scouting for Girls and The Proclaimers.[12] On 6 September, it was confirmed that the One-hour live episode would include an unexpected death, two weddings and two births.[13]

Emmerdale Live aired on 17 October 2012, in the middle of the 40th anniversary week, with the death revealed to be Carl King's. The story of Carl's death took the show into 2013, when a new series producer replaced Blackburn (who became producer of Coronation Street).

At the beginning of August 2015, Emmerdale introduced a new storyline: "Summer Fate", with the tagline "The choices we make are the paths we take. Who will meet their summer fate?". A promo for the storyline was released on 13 July. A disaster storyline had been rumoured, confirmed by the promo. The disaster was identified on 1 August, two days before the disaster week began, as a helicopter crash. The crash was triggered by an argument between Chrissie and Robert Sugden; Chrissie set Robert's car ablaze, causing exploding gas canisters to collide with a helicopter. The helicopter crashed into the village hall during Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton's wedding reception. Regular characters Ruby Haswell and Val Pollard were killed in the aftermath of the crash. Although Ross Barton was apparently murdered by his brother Pete, it was learned three weeks later that he survived.


Emmerdale has featured a number of families, some defining an era of the show:

The Sugdens and their relatives, the Merricks and the Skilbecks, were at the centre of the show during the series' first two decades in the 1970s and 1980s (the Emmerdale Farm era). The Sugdens, owners of Emmerdale Farm, were its first family. Many of its members, and those of the Merrick and Skilbeck families, have left or been killed off since the mid-1990s.

December 1984 saw the arrival of Caroline Bates; her teenage children, Kathy and Nick, followed in late 1985. Caroline left the show in 1989, returning for guest appearances in 1991, 1993-1994 and 1996. Nick was written out of the show when he was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1997. Kathy and her niece, Alice, remained in the village until late 2001; by then, Kathy had outlived two husbands. Through her, the Bateses are related to two of Emmerdale's central families: the Sugdens (through Jackie Merrick) and the Tates (through Chris Tate).

Sugdens remaining in the village include Jack's widow, Diane; his three children, Andy, Robert and Victoria Sugden; Andy's children Sarah and Jack (the latter born on the show's 40th anniversary), and Robert's ex-wife Chrissie. Other families followed: the middle-class Windsors in 1993 (known as the Hope family after Viv's 2001 remarriage to Bob Hope) and the ne'er-do-well Dingles in 1994.

The Tate, Windsor-Hope and Dingle families predominated during the 1990s and 2000s. The era's storylines included the 1993 plane crash, the 1994 Home Farm siege, the 1998 post-office robbery, the 2000 bus crash, the 2003–04 storm and the 2006 King show-home collapse. By the mid- to late-2000s, the last of the Tates (Zoe, daughter Jean and nephew Joseph) had emigrated to New Zealand. In 2009, Chris Tate's ex-wife Charity and their son Noah returned to the village. Members of the Windsor-Hope family left the village in early 2006, and Viv Hope was killed off in a village fire in February 2011 after nearly 18 years on the show. As of 2015 only Donna Windsor's daughter, April, and the Hope branch of the family (Bob and his children, Carly and twins Cathy and Heathcliff) remain.

The King family arrived in 2004 (as the Tates departed), but many members have been killed off. In 2013, most of the Dingles remained. Their circumstances had changed in their two decades in the village; Chas Dingle owned half of The Woolpack and Marlon was a chef. As of 2014, the Bartons and Whites are the central families; the Bartons are the farming family, and the Whites own Home Farm.


Over the years, Emmerdale has highlighted a range of different social issues, including rape, cancer, miscarriage, dementia, homosexuality, arson, murder, HIV, sexual assault, post traumatic stress disorder, brain aneurysm, adultery, domestic violence, financial problems, embezzlement, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, anorexia, teenage pregnancy, gambling addiction, bereavement, fraud, suicide, mesothelioma, schizophrenia, manslaughter, becoming a parent in later life, sudden infant death syndrome, self-harming, assisted suicide, epilepsy and premature births.







An average Emmerdale episode generally attracts 6–8 million viewers, making it one of Britain's most popular television programmes. During the 1990s, the series had an average of 10–11 million viewers per episode. On 30 December 1993, Emmerdale had its largest audience (18 million) when a plane crashed into the village. On 27 May 1997, 13 million viewers saw Frank Tate die of a heart attack after the return of wife Kim. On 20 October 1998, 12.5 million viewers saw The Woolpack explode after a fire.

The village storm on 1 January 2004 attracted 11.19 million viewers. The 18 May 2004 episode in which Jack Sugden was shot by his adopted son, Andy, attracted 8.27 million viewers. On 17 March 2005, 9.39 million watched Shelly Williams fall from the Isle of Arran ferry. Zoe Tate left the show after 16 years on 22 September 2005 before 8.58 million viewers, marking her departure by blowing up Home Farm. On 13 July 2006, the Kings River house collapse was seen by 6.90 million viewers. Cain Dingle left on 21 September 2006, before an audience of 8.57 million viewers. On Christmas Day 2006, 7.69 million saw Tom King murdered on his wedding day. Billy Hopwood crashed his truck into a lake on 1 February 2007, attracting 8.15 million viewers. The 17 May 2007 end of the "Who Killed Tom King?" storyline had an audience of 8.92 million.

On 14 January 2010, 9.96 million saw Mark Wylde shot dead by wife Natasha. Natasha's 27 October confession to daughter Maisie attracted an audience of nearly 8 million. On 13 January 2011, 9.15 million saw a fire kill Viv Hope and Terry Woods. The 17 October 2012 live 40th-anniversary episode drew an audience of 8.83 million. On 16 October 2013, 8.37 million watched Cameron take the occupants of The Woolpack hostage and shoot Alicia. The next day, 9.28 million viewers saw Cameron Murray die.[14]

Awards and nominations


Village street with stone houses
Esholt, West Yorkshire, used for exterior scenes from 1976 to 1997
Village, seen from a distance across a field
Village set, built by Yorkshire Television in 1997 on the Harewood estate near Eccup, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Location shooting was originally filmed in the village of Arncliffe in Littondale, a quiet valley in the Yorkshire Dales. The Falcon, the village hotel, served as the fictional Woolpack Inn. When the filming location became public it was moved to the village of Esholt in 1976, where it remained for 22 years.

The original Emmerdale Farm buildings are near the village of Leathley. Creskeld Hall, in Arthington, (Home Farm). The buildings are one of the few original filming locations used for the entire series, and have been involved in many storylines.

Construction of a purpose-built set began on the Harewood estate in 1996, and it has been used since 1997. The first scenes filmed on the set (the front of The Woolpack) were broadcast on 17 February 1998. The Harewood set is a replica of Esholt, with minor alterations.

The Harewood houses are timber-framed and stone-faced. The village is built on green-belt land, with its buildings classified as "temporary structures" which must be demolished within ten years unless new planning permission is received. There is no plan to demolish the set, and a new planning application has been drawn up. The set includes a church and churchyard, where the characters who have died on the series are buried.

Butlers Farm is Brookland Farm, a working farm in the nearby village of Eccup. Farmyard and building exteriors are filmed at Brookland, with interior house shots filmed in the studio.

Location filming is also done in the City of Leeds and other West Yorkshire locations; the fictional market town of Hotten is Otley, 10 miles North West of Leeds. Benton Park School in Rawdon and the primary school in Farnley were also used for filming. Interiors are primarily filmed at Yorkshire Television's Emmerdale Production Centre in Leeds, next to Yorkshire's Leeds Studios.[15] As of 28 March 2011, HD-capable studios in the ITV Studios building were used for most of the interior scenes.

Four farms have been featured on Emmerdale:


Emmerdale's first sponsor (from 14 December 1999 to 20 February 2002) was Daz detergent, followed by Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Heinz salad cream from May 2003 to May 2005. Reckitt Benckiser took over until 2009, advertising Calgon, Air Wick, Veet, and Lemsip. Tombola Bingo underwrote the show from November 2009 to March 2012, followed by Bet365 Bingo until March 2014. McCain Foods began a two-year, £8 million sponsorship on 7 April 2014.[16]

Longest-appearing actors

The eleven actors who have appeared in the series for over 20 years are listed in the table below; the longest-tenured was Richard Thorp, who died in 2013 after playing Alan Turner for 31 years. The longest-tenured actress is Sheila Mercier, who played Annie Sugden for 22 years.

Longest-appearing Emmerdale actors (as of 2016)
1 Richard Thorp Alan Turner 1982–2013 (31 years)
2 Chris Chittell Eric Pollard 1986–present (30 years)
3 Clive Hornby Jack Sugden 1980–2008 (28 years)
4 Stan Richards Seth Armstrong 1978–2003, 2004 (25 years)
5 Steve Halliwell Zak Dingle 1994–present (22 years)
6 Sheila Mercier Annie Sugden 1972–94, 1995, 1996, 2009 (22 years)
7 Paula Tilbrook Betty Eagleton 1994–2015 (21 years)
8 Kelvin Fletcher Andy Sugden 1996–2016 (20 years)
9 Jane Cox Lisa Dingle 1996– (20 years)
10 Mark Charnock Marlon Dingle 1996– (20 years)
11 John Middleton Ashley Thomas 1996–2017 (20 years)


Emmerdale was first broadcast two afternoons a week in 1972, and it later moved to a 19:00 slot. The number of episodes has increased, to its current six half-hour episodes each week. Each episode is filmed two to four weeks before it is broadcast on ITV.

Broadcast history

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Weekly episodes
1972–1988, 1990–1997 2
1988–1990 2
1997–2000 3
2000–2004 5
2004–2008 6
2008–2009 5 (1 hour on Tuesdays)
2009–present 6



Emmerdale reaches viewers in the Republic of Ireland via UTV Ireland, which broadcasts the series simultaneously with ITV in the UK with a live feed from London. Breaking news on ITV would interrupt the broadcast. Emmerdale was broadcast during the day on RTÉ One from 1972 to 2001 before it moved to TV3. RTÉ were several months behind; for many years, they broadcast the show five days a week (instead of ITV's three days a week) and took a break during the summer. As the series began a five-night week, RTÉ fell behind the ITV broadcasts; the gap between RTÉ One's last episode and TV3's first episode was about three months.[17]


The series has appeared in Sweden as Hem till gården ("Home to the Farm") since the 1970s – originally on TV2 and since 1994 on TV4. Two episodes are broadcast weekdays at 11:35. Emmerdale is the most-watched daytime non-news programme in Sweden, attracting 150,000 to 200,000 viewers daily.[18] Episodes are repeated overnight on TV4 and in prime time on digital channel TV4 Guld.


The programme appears in Finland on MTV3 on primetime, 17:55–18:25 and 18:25–18:55 Monday to Friday, two episodes a day, with repeats of each episode the following weekday morning between 9:00 and 11:00. Episodes originally aired in the UK in September and October 2015 were broadcast in Finland in September 2016. Emmerdale attracts an average of 350,000 to 400,000 viewers per episode, and is the most watched non-Finnish every-weekday program in Finnish television.[19]

New Zealand

Emmerdale is broadcast in New Zealand weekdays on ONE, with an hour-long episode Monday to Thursday and a half-hour episode on Friday from 12:30 to 13:00. It is the second-most-watched daytime programme, after the news.[20] Episodes are broadcast a month behind ITV's.


Emmerdale was broadcast in Australia for the first time in July 2006, when UKTV began airing the 2006 series with episode 4288.[21][22] As of April 2016, UKTV episodes are from July 2014, twenty one months behind the UK airings.


See also


  1. "'Emmerdale' death should stay secret, says show boss Stuart Blackburn - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  2. Hollyoaks' Iain MacLeod moves on to produce Emmerdale Liverpool Echo, 18 September 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. Work on new 'Emmerdale' studios under way Digital Spy, 2 September 2010
  4. Byrne, Andrea (8 February 2009). "The plough and the stars: how TV's revolutionary Riordans changed Ireland". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  5. Kirby, Terry (15 July 2006). "Emmerdale: the village that won over a nation". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  6. Best of Emmerdale - First episode ITV.com
  7. Leigh Holmwood, ITV exec Richardson leaves Emmerdale after 24 years The Guardian, 15 January 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2012
  8. 'Emmerdale' live episode confirmed for 40th anniversary Digital Spy, 1 May 2012
  9. "'Emmerdale' 40th anniversary live episode director confirmed - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  10. "'Emmerdale' to have ITV2 backstage show following live episode - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  11. "'Emmerdale' builds new Woolpack set for live episode - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  12. "'Emmerdale' holds music festival with Scouting for Girls, Proclaimers - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  13. "'Emmerdale' death confirmed for 40th anniversary live episode - Emmerdale News - Soaps". Digital Spy. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  14. Kilkelly, Daniel (17 October 2013). "'Coronation Street' christening special claims 9.2m on Wednesday". Digital Spy. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  15. Leeds Studios location Google Earth Archived 19 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. "Emmerdale to be sponsored by McCain in two-year deal". Digital Spy. 17 March 2014.
  17. "UTV to take on RTÉ and TV3 with exclusive rights to Corrie and 'Emmerdale'". BreakingNews.ie. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  18. MMS, MMS (17 April 2014). "MMS Daily Hot Top Ratings". MMS.se. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  19. Finnpanel. Broadcast ratings. Week 36/ 2016. Retrieved: 25.09.2016. Available: http://www.finnpanel.fi/en/tulokset/tv/vko/top50p/2016/36.
  20. "Throng TV Ratings". 16 April 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  21. "Symons: Marilyn Fisher was easy, cracking the UK wasn't". Australian Associated Press. 22 June 2006.
  22. Brown, Pam (27 June 2006). "Emily swaps soaps". The West Australian. West Australian Newspapers. p. 5.
  23. "Frost, Beedles quit soap production roles". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  24. "Emmerdale's new Producer". ITV.com. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  25. "New Corrie, 'Emmerdale' producers named". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  26. Holmwood, Leigh (15 January 2009). "ITV exec Richardson leaves Emmerdale after 24 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  27. "Blyth named new 'Emmerdale' producer". Digital Spy. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  28. Daniel Kilkelly 'Emmerdale producer Blyth dies aged 41' Digital Spy, 27 November 2010
  29. 'Emmerdale' announces new series producer Digital Spy, 16 March 2011
  30. "Meet the new boss - News and spoilers - Emmerdale". ITV. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  31. "Corrie and Emmerdale: New Producers appointed". ITV. Retrieved 18 September 2015.

External links

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