Classic Emmerdale

I have caught the repeats of classic episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street now and again on ITV3. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, I have been able to see more of them than I otherwise might. Here are some of my general thoughts on Classic Emmerdale, mainly the years 1993, 1994 and 1995, as that’s when I started
watching first time round.

The Plane Crash episode, originally broadcast on the 30th of December 1993, gave the show it’s highest viewing figures ever, with 18 million viewers, and it’s likely that record will never be broken.

It was very controversial, for one thing it signalled a big change in the show – at the time it was a make or break moment, as they had a choice of being more like high drama soaps or being axed altogether. Another reason was that it aired almost five years to the day of the anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988, a terror attack where a bomb caused a plane to crash into a residential area, resulting in 270 deaths. Emmerdale doing a similar storyline to boost ratings at a significant anniversary of the diaster was considered by many, including some of the cast, to be in bad taste.

I was only a kid when this was on first time round, and I didn’t see this episode. While I can understand it being considered inappropriate, just judging it from watching in the 21st century, to be honest it is a very good episode.

Beginning with a ball of fire falling from the sky, the plane crash itself isn’t the only disaster – as so often happens, it leads to others. The fire is raining from the sky causing more fires on land, which spread. Among other things a caravan gas cylinder explodes. A water main bursts, which means the bridge is closed and the emergency services can’t get through.

There’s a power cut, all the windows in the village pub The Woolpack are broken and this is a time before the wide use of mobile phones. Nowadays it would be easier to call emergency services, or to look up news on the internet, but in 1993 not only couldn’t you access the internet on mobile phones, they weren’t even that common! It was mainly well-off business people who had them, most people wouldn’t have one. So in this situation, nobody knows what’s going on – some think the country has gone to war!

But people do come together, attempting to put fires out and search for survivors. Farmer Jack Sugden gets his tractor to bring concrete piles to full the hole in the bridge.

The sound of the horses in a burning barn is certainly disturbing. Kim Barker (as she is at this point, but this character is more well known under a slightly different name…) wants to try to save the horses, but it’s too dangerous for her to get near. She tries to put on a brave face, but she is in tears at her horses perishing in the flames, not least when she finds a rossette that was awarded to Dark Star, one of her favourite horses.

Wine merchant Josh Lewis wades across the river and helps out in the village. He and Kathy Tate had been planning on running away together, but Kathy’s husband Chris Tate becoming paralysed due to these events and having to spend the rest of his life using a wheelchair changes that. Ironically, it’s Josh who finds Chris and begins the rescue!

People’s homes are destroyed, the engine fuel poisons the Sugden’s farmland, and there
are many deaths, including four regular characters. Overall, it looks apocalyptic, and the effects are pretty good considering this was a TV soap from 1993.

One loose end from this episode that was never quite resolved was the implication that Eric Pollard murdered his wife Elizabeth and pretended she’d died in the disaster. It’s not really clear, but it’s strongly implied, and over the years the show has kind of zig-zagged a bit on whether he did or not. Sometimes they’ve suggested he definitely didn’t, sometimes they’ve suggested he almost certainly did, the closest thing we’ve got to a straight answer being that Eric intended to kill her, but she had already died from being hit by debris from the plane.

Unfortunately, I think Elizabeth’s son/Eric’s stepson Michael Feldmann ended up as collateral damage, as he spent the rest of his time on the show trying to get justice for his mother and revenge against Pollard which never comes. It’s a shame really. Michael was basically a nice lad, but who made bad decisions and got himself in trouble a lot, though he seemed to be getting on the right track after working with gamekeeper Seth Armstrong. However, Elizabeth’s death changes things permanently, as far as Michael’s character is concerned.

Matthew Vaughan, who played Michael, was a good actor too. Something I have appreciated more on this rewatch though is – he was HOT! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever fancied a soap guy as much! While I knew it was coming, I was very sorry to see him leave. Like I said, there were good things about Micheal Feldmann/Matthew Vaughan that weren’t just limited to him being fit, but honestly that aspect is probably the thing that’s made me most glad I’ve watched these repeats! I watched some clips of his brief return in 2010/2011 (he was good looking then, too!), which seemed to try and resolve the whole issue with Elizabeth’s death and Michael himself, but I think it’s a shame he wasn’t part of the show longer.

I don’t remember Michael Feldmann’s sister Elsa Feldmann much, but on rewatch, she’s vile! She abandons her daughter Alice then comes back two years later thinking she should be able to just take Alice away from Alice’s dad, Nick Bates, who has been raising her. As Nick tells Elsa, due to Elsa taking so little interest in Alice up to this point “[Alice] knows more about Postman Pat!” than she does about Elsa!

Nick’s mental health declines after the plane crash kills his best friend and housemate Archie Brooks. Nick possibly suffers from PTSD, but I’m not sure if it’s confirmed. But either way, Elsa intends to use Nick’s struggle as a way of making him look like he won’t be able to look after Alice. Not only that, but she uses the rumours about Nick and Archie being gay – which are completely false – as another reason for saying Nick should lose custody of Alice! Attitudes towards people with mental health problems and towards gay people were certainly not great in the UK in the early ’90s, but it is still a bit of a shock to watch this in 2020. Though I think we aren’t meant to like Elsa – in which case, well done to the writers and Naomi Lewis who played her, because they succeeded in making Elsa a very loathsome character. Elsa loses the custody hearing to Nick and then she buggers off again, which is very satisfying, (though the long run it doesn’t turn out well for Nick).

As I noted to above, watching the older episodes it was strange seeing Kim Tate before she became Kim Tate! I don’t mean the different surname (in the show she starts off as Kim Tate, then gets divorced and reverts to her maiden name Kim Barker, then she marries rich businessman Frank Tate again and is back to being Kim Tate.) But for those of us who started with later episodes and knew her as the main UK soap superbitch, seeing episodes where she’s soft and pleasant is so weird – it’s like it’s a parallel universe version of Emmerdale. Having said that, as soap character changes go, Kim’s is handled a lot better than those usually are. It doesn’t happen overnight, it happens slowly but surely. Not all of it is brand new either, as from the start, it’s kind of obvious she only married Frank for his money, their relationship began as an affair while he was married to his first wife anyway, and the reason Kim and Frank get divorced is due to Kim having another affair. So having affairs has always been par for the course with Kim!

But the real change happens during her second run as Kim Tate. When Frank gets ill, Kim starts running the business in his abscence, and when Frank recovers he expects Kim to go back to just being the trophy wife, which obviously annoys her. As she gets more involved in the business side of things and is knocked back by people such as cliquey, fox hunting countryside rich folk, she becomes increasingly brittle, selfish and ruthless. She visits a solicitor asking about Frank’s will, and is told that if she were to have a child by Frank, she would get more out of his will. She’d never wanted kids before, but that evening, at dinner, she tells Frank she wants to start a family with him, and they should go to bed and started right away! She also gets increasingly glamorous as well. When she isn’t in her equestrian
gear (which she also looks good in!), Kim begins wearing bright dresses, smart business suits and sparkling jewellery.

Zoe Tate (Frank’s daughter/Kim’s stepdaughter) is the village vet, and she is an excellent character. I will probably do a blogpost just on Zoe at some point, but to this day she is one of my favourite ever LGBT characters, not just in soaps. It was very helpful when I was growing up, as while I didn’t really know what “gay” was back then, I think at the back of my mind I knew I was, so I always appreciated Zoe. She was smart, down-to-earth and (mostly) nice, which was rare with the Tates! With LGBT characters it can be tricky to get the balance right. Being completely defined by their sexuality isn’t good, but in trying to avoid that sometimes there are LGBT characters where their sexuality has no significance whatsoever, which doesn’t work either. Zoe I think was someone where her sexuality was an important part of her life, but she wasn’t just an “issue”, she was just as fully rounded as the heterosexual characters. As I said, I’ll probably go more into this in another blogpost.

Seth Armstrong and Betty Eagleton are characters I liked at the time, and I like even more on rewatch. They are such colourful, strong, good humoured characters and even if they rarely get a starring role and mainly have supporting roles in other storylines, they bring so much to the village and the show! They’re not always perfect people, but they are very likeable and they make a good couple.

Seth is a gamekeeper who was known for trying to get as much free ale from The Woolpack as he could, such as always knowing when it’s pump cleaning day so they’ll be wanting to get rid of some of the beer. He is one of Emmerdale‘s most iconic characters, certainly one of the most recognisable, not least his green woollen hat and handlebar moustache.

Betty liked a drink as well, though in her case it was sherry. She was always involving herself in everyone else’s business. She… spoke her mind, to put it mildly. She was often misguided, but most of the time she wanted to help people out. She once woke up next to a horse’s head. Thankfully not like in The Godfather, but that the horse Samson (who appears in several episodes) poked his head through the caravan door! A random highlight of Betty for me was when she took it upon herself to give a flask of tea and some home made parkin to an undercover cop!

The first soap character death I remember being very upset about was Shirley Turner, wife of Woolpack landlord Alan Turner. On the rewatch, yeah, she was a good character and it is a shame to see her go, especially that she’s killed off. The really sad thing about it is that it’s so random – she just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time during a seige. Shirley also dies bravely saving Viv Windsor’s life, by trying to stop her getting shot, but in doing that Shirley ends up taking the bullet and dying instantly. Alan says as much how random and unfair it is. He puts a picture of Shirley in The Woolpack and she is mourned in the village, so this doesn’t read like one of those cases where a character was killed off due to being unpopular. Before these repeats, I remember thinking how odd her death seemed in hindsight. Looking up some info on her departure, apparently Rachel Davies, the actress who played Shirley, left Emmerdale for a main part as Joyce Webster
in the drama series Band Of Gold, and speculation on social media from fans watching the old episodes is that Rachel Davies was never likely to be on the show very long as she appeared in a lot of dramas, so probably preferred to play lots of different roles than to be in one role for a long time, but again this is just speculation.

Another interesting thing about this storyline though – John Middleton played PC John Jarvis – and two years later he would join the regular Emmerdale cast as Reverend Ashley Thomas!

Sarah Sugden is originally played by Madeline Howard. I mentioned above that some of the cast found the plane crash episode to be in bad taste, and Madeline Howard was one. It is thought that is why she left the show, plus wanting to be closer to her family. Whatever the reasons behind it, as recastings go Sarah Sugden has to be one of my least favourite. The first version of Sarah is much better! She has a spark to her, and she is lot more likeable. But when she is recast, now played by Alyson Spiro, there isn’t anywhere near as much chemistry with Jack Sugden‘s actor Clive Hornby. Also, Sarah becomes a totally different character – she’s extremely sour, spiteful and resentful. Not to mention she has an affair while her baby daughter Victoria is ill in hospital! I don’t think this is a case of the second Sarah being bad actress or even a bad recasting, because if becoming bitter was the direction the producers/writers wanted the character to go in, well… But it’s an unpleasant change. I’m not letting Jack off the hook though, he becomes a bit of an arsehole as well – not least the fact that he had an affair of his own with Rachel Hughes – who was his stepniece!

I barely remember the McAllisters, and on rewatch I can see why – they’re boring! Which was probably why they didn’t catch on generally. But what is interesting is seeing a soap completely give up on one of their families! I think they were meant to be a bigger deal than they ended up being. The father, Bernard McAllister, was a doctor, and there was a doctor’s car in the opening titles (which long outlasted the McAllisters themselves!), so I think he was intended to be part of the community. The mother, Angharad, is a teacher at the school, and the two teenage kids Luke and Jessica were grouped with Biff Fowler.

But most of their storylines failed to make any impact – there was one where Kathy has a ridiculous bunny boiler crush of Bernard, but other than that the only significant one was Luke getting into a fight with Ben Dingle. Ben dies in the fight, seemingly from natural causes, but the Dingles don’t believe that. Bernard and Angharad both leave the village, never to return, with other characters having to deliver exposition as to what Bernard and Angharad are doing and why they aren’t around. Jessica is literally put on a bus! Luke sticks around, but he comes out of it worst! Tina Dingle gets in a relationship with him, but it’s all a scam. She isolates Luke from his family and friends, and says she’s pregnant with his child. Then they get engaged, so Tina has him pay for everything to do with the wedding, leaving him with hardly any money, rings him up to lie to him there’s something wrong with her and their unborn baby before he is about to take an A Level exam, prevents him from studying for his other exams, sells the family heirloom grandfather clock to Eric Pollard for a cheap price (and keeping half of the money for her own back pocket at that!). At the wedding when it comes to making their vows, Tina reveals it was all a con! She tells Luke she hates him, she still blames him for Ben’s death, she was never pregnant, and “If I had been I’d have ripped it out of my belly with my own two hands!”.

Luke… doesn’t take this well. He later takes Tina in a van, and is speeding down the road – Tina escapes, but Luke crashes the van into a wall, and the van explodes, killing him! Tina felt no remorse whatsoever for ruining Luke’s life, but she feels guilty and upset after that moment. I suppose there’s a world of difference between destroying someone’s life and witnessing that person literally die in flames. Tina repeatedly says afterwards “I didn’t want him dead”.

Jessica returns for the inquest, she trades insults with Tina and has a catfight with her, but what Jessica mostly does is say how much she hates everyone in Emmerdale and doesn’t want to see them again, so it comes across as underlying just how much the McAllister family is gone.

1993 saw another southern family introduced to Emmerdale, but unlike the McAllisters they worked well. The Windsors, who run the local Post Office. I think one difference was that the Windsors were working class, so perhaps fitted in easier, but they were definitely more vibrant as well. The McAllisters were middle class and nothing else, really. The Windsors had much more personality. They were a couple, Vic and Viv, Vic’s daughter Kelly, Viv’s son Scott, and Vic and Viv’s daughter Donna, so they were kind of a blended family.

Vic and Viv had some funny moments. One time was Vic getting punched in the face in a fight, and using a bag of frozen peas on his face to soothe it. Viv charges him 87p, as it’s shop stock! 87p seems so cheap now though!

Vic once described himself as “Postman Pat with sex appeal!” (Erm….). Viv, correctly, tells him it’s actually Mrs. Goggins who runs the Post Office!

Back then, Emmerdale did remind me a lot of Postman Pat! That was a show I watched a hell of a lot when I was a kid. Postman Pat was set in a countryside village called Greendale, and it also had farmers and a similar sort of village community to Emmerdale.

The Dingles probably evolved more than any other family really. They started out as basically the villains, a rough family over the hills who the villagers were afraid of. They weren’t originally supposed to last long, they were supposed to cause a lot of mess then go. But as time went on they then became more comical and developed into a family that could be empathised with, and today they are one of the core families.

They were a part of the show I always paid attention to, it was probably the comedy side to be honest. One of my most remembered scenes is Seth watching the Dingle mother and father, Nellie and Zak, come home from the supermarket – with the trolley! Seth says “One little piggy went to market, some little piggies stayed at home!”. We later find what he means by that – he gets the pigs from the Dingles sty, and puts them in the Dingles house!

The Dingles also do stuff like stealing sheep and trying to wash the dye off the wool, and Zak having a bare knuckle fight with another farmer Ned Glover.

When the Dingle sons Sam and Butch start working for Eric Pollard, one time they collect a load of furniture from 40 Skipdale Lane, using a key they are told is underneath a plantpot to get in. But the next day the old lady who wanted the furniture collecting complains they never showed up. Turns out they were supposed to go to 14 Skipdale Lane! So, technically, they broke in and burgled a house! They go back to 40 Skipdale Lane to put the furniture back. But a grandfather clock that was one of Eric’s antiques was kept in the same place as that furniture, and they put that in 14 Skipdale Lane too! Eric tells them to get it back, which they do, but Butch tells Sam they should sell it themselves. However, Nellie spots them with the clock, and they have to lie that it’s a gift to her from Eric! (Where were they planning on hiding it, anyway? I mean, a grandfather clock isn’t something which would be that easy to hide!). Nellie now thinks Eric has a crush on her, and starts polishing the grandfather clock. Zak gets jealous,and takes the grandfather clock back to Eric – then Zak smashes it up with a sledgehammer! OK, I know this whole thing was getting into daft sitcom territory, but I enjoyed it!

In another episode, Zak takes Nellie out to a posh Italian resturaunt. Zak orders spaghetti bolognese, and Nellie orders Hawaiian pizza. The waiter asks which wine they want, saying different wines go with different dishes. Zak says then he’ll have “meat wine” and Nellie will have “pineapple wine”. In context, it makes sense, as Zak means just give them the wine that will best go with what they’re ordering, but meat wine and pineapple wine sounds surreal! The date is ruined however, due to Zak’s needless jealousy, thinking the waiter is flirting with Nellie, when he’s just being polite.

I remember Nellie wearing a feather boa singing ‘Sugartime’ by Alma Cogan and asking her family to guess who she was pretending to be. Butch suggested Miss. Piggy! And
I remember I genuinely thought she was pretending to be Miss. Piggy! Butch is saying it as a joke, but I was only a kid back when this was on first time, and I had seen Miss. Piggy a few times on TV before, and I’d never heard of Alma Cogan.

Another storyline I remember is Frank Tate trying to evict the Dingles. They are on Farmer Holdgate’s land, which apparently he was OK with, but after he dies this comes to the attention of the technical landowner, Frank. The Dingles have been there 30 years, so Zak says he’s willing to pay Frank rent so they can stay, but Frank says he wants the land for development. Nellie throws a bucket of pig slurry over Frank!

Nellie speculates later that Frank will be selling it to some “yuppies”. This is a bit like gentrification in the present day, isn’t it? I don’t think it was called gentrification back then, and “yuppie” is a word you don’t hear much nowadays, but it’s interesting how words change, but issues don’t.

A solicitor tells the Dingles they may have a moral argument, but as they’ve never paid rent since they’ve lived there, legally they don’t have a leg to stand on. To be honest, the Dingles probably don’t have a moral argument either. They had helped themselves to the late Farmer Holdgate’s old furniture, and while he was still alive they were stealing his electricity!

To raise money, the Dingles auction an old coat, which has an empty wallet in. Tina stuffs the wallet with pages from a Bible, reasoning that “some greedy beggar” will notice it and assume it’s a wallet full of money. At the auction in The Woolpack, several notice the wallet and make a bid for the coat. Seth gets it in the end, and when he gets the wallet he pulls out the Bible page, which ironically reads “Better is the poor man walking in simplicity than the rich in his crooked ways!”.

A very memorable episode for me was when the Dingles barricade their farm from the bailiffs. Most of the village were on the Dingles side, though it was more to do with not wanting landowners the Tates to ride roughshod over the village. It sure as hell wasn’t because the Dingles themselves were popular in the village!

Mandy Dingle makes her second appearance, after turning up as a guest as Tina and Luke’s non-wedding. She wouldn’t become a regular until a bit later though.

Sam is chained up on the entrance of the barricade, while Rachel (with baby Joseph), Viv and Eric are in front of the barricade among other protesters. Chris goes to join them! The Dingles hosepipe the bailiffs. The police arrive with riot gear, and clear protestors out of the way, get in the farm and arrest the Dingles, though Zak throws a shovelfull of pigswill and pig muck at them for their trouble.

I remember a lot of this episode very clearly, especially Zak saying “An Englishman’s home is his castle”, and Nellie replying “It’s not a castle, is it, it’s a junkyard!”, and when the Dingles are carted off in a police van, Kim telling Frank “We’ve won!” – and Frank looking doubtful. The Dingles and Kim Tate are what seem to have made the biggest impact on me, so I suppose this is why this episode was memorable.

I had forgotten that this took place around Halloween/Bonfire night time though. The following episode has toffee apples and pumpkins among the stock in the Post Office. In The Woolpack, Terry wants to make a Frank Tate Guy for the bonfire. Terry also wears a witch mask, and Seth jokes that he thought that was Kim! Betty more or less calls Kim a witch right to her face later on, and Kim answers by saying “I do have one magic trick. The power to make Seth disappear!”. However, Seth and Kim would end up getting on pretty well in the long run!

The next episode also has Alan Turner and Betty Eagleton wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

The Dingles steal a tent from a camp of Cub Scouts. I quite liked Jack’s joke that the tent ran off to join the circus – “[the tent] wants to be a marquee when it grows up!”.

The Dingles set the tent up along with their van on the Tate’s drive. Tina makes a lot of snarky comments. After Kim refuses Tina’s request to use their toilet, Tina says “Hard luck on your grass then, ain’t it?”. Kim allows them to use the stable toilets after that comment. Tina isn’t too keen on the Dingles’ situation herself though. “We’ll have a roof over our heads [soon]. Hotten nick!”, and says to Butch and Sam “I’ll hollow your heads out, stick a candle in, brightest you’ve ever been!”. The Dingles decide to relocate before the police arrive, and squat in the village hall, making use of Eric’s antique furniture. The Dingles also have a turkey they’ve named Frank, who they are fattening up for Christmas! They bring their pigs and dogs, and start stealing milk and yoghurt that’s been delivered to other villagers by the milkman. This means that the villagers want the Dingles out of the village centre, and go to Frank, who backs down and allows the Dingles to move back to their farm, providing they pay rent.

On the rewatch, Sandra Gough really was great as Nellie Dingle. In hindsight, I’m surprised she was only on for a year, I thought she was on longer! I’m still not sure
what the reasons were for her leaving the show. Nellie was written out as going to look after her sick father in Ireland. She would be back in 2000, now played by a different actress, Maggie Tagney.

Something I only noticed on this rewatch was that Maggie Tagney appeared in Emmerdale in 1995, playing another character, Angela Johnson from the tourist board – who encounters the Dingles! She’s come to evaluate “Wishing Well cottage”, the Dingles farmhouse, which they hope to turn into a B&B. Ironically, the one regular Dingle Angela isn’t seen onscreen with is Nellie – she’s bedridden, and Angela gets a line apologising to an unseen Nellie for disturbing her!

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the 2000 episodes, and we’re nowhere near them on ITV3 at the time of writing, but I remember Maggie Tagney being very uncharismatic in the role of Nellie. Let’s just say she was a lot better as Angela! The version of Nellie played by Sandra Gough may have been brassy and vulgar, but she cared deeply about her family. The version of Nellie played by Maggie Tagney was self-absorbed and petty. I almost feel like taking back what I said about the Sarah Sugden recast, because it was nowhere near as bad as this recast!

In 2000, Zak and Nellie were divorced, and Zak was now married to Lisa, who as well as being Zak’s wife had taken on the Dingle mother figure role. What makes
this whole thing even weirder is that Jane Cox, who played Lisa, had auditioned for the role of Nellie! Apparently, Jane Cox auditoned to play Nellie, but was offered the role of Lisa instead. This is just my speculation, but considering Nellie leaves in December 1995, and Lisa arrives in August 1996, I take that to mean that in 1996 the producers knew Sandra Gough definitely wasn’t coming back, so were going to recast Nellie, and chose Jane Cox, but then decided instead to write a brand new character for her, but who would be taking over the same “role” as the Dingle matriarch. But to be clear, that’s just my speculation, I don’t know. With that in mind, I also wonder if Nellie’s return in 2000 was mostly to properly draw a line under her character and move on, given that Lisa was a popular character and a well established part of the Dingle family unit, and there would be literally nothing for Nellie to do other than stir up trouble, which is what happened. But this meant that Nellie’s character was ruined in the process, so, frankly, I’d rather they’d have just had Nellie die offscreen.

Having said that, they infamously did this with another character in 1995, Joe Sugden, who had been in since the very first episode in 1972 (with just a brief break of a couple of years). Then Joe left again in 1994 to spend time with his mother Annie in Spain, and in 1995 Jack receives a phonecall from Annie saying Joe has died in a car crash! This was hugely unpopular with long term fans. Apparently the actor Frazer Hines quit in 1994, and was asked to come back for 1995. He declined, and so Joe ended up being killed off, offscreen! If that’s how it happened, then the producers were being quite vindictive!

We see the birth of Joseph Tate, the son of Chris Tate and Rachel Hughes. Joseph was named after Joe Sugden. Joseph Tate would come back as an adult, now called Joe Tate (well, he actually came back under the name Tom Waterhouse at first, but that’s another story).

Another major storyline I remember is a love square involving the Tates and handsome farmhand Dave Glover. Dave is going out with cafe owner Kathy, but he’s having an affair with Kim, his boss’ wife! Kathy is also the ex-wife of Chris Tate, as if this wasn’t messy enough!

So we have two love triangles (added together making a love square). For Dave, it’s the sweet good girl (Kathy) and the sexy bad girl (Kim). For Kim, it’s the rich old man (Frank) and the hunky young gardener (Dave). One of the scenes I remember most clearly is when Kim and David are talking about their affair outside Kathy’s place – (on the night David and Kathy were celebrating their engagement no less!). Kathy overhears Kim saying to Dave “You need me in a way she can’t start to understand!”. I’m not even sure why I remember this scene so much, I just do. Biff points out to Dave in the next episode, quite rightly, that how the hell did Dave and Kim expect Kathy not to hear/notice anything though?!?

Dave promises Kathy that he and Kim are finished. There is a great moment of dramatic irony when Frank and Kim see Dave and Kathy kissing, and Frank saying it “brings
back memories” of himself and Kim just before they got married, and asking Kim if she wishes she had that!

Kim makes a lot of comments about how she’s a lady of a manor, and more sexy and exciting than prim and proper Kathy with a flat above her little tea shop. Kathy gets
some barbs in at Kim too though, telling her “You’re nothing special, Kim, you’re just a gold digging secretary who got her claws into her boss!” – That’s quite a burn!

Nick Bates (Kathy’s brother) works at Home Farm, and deliberately sabotages an important shoot. He apologises for it, and Kim sacks him (which might be harsh, but
let’s face it, not unfair). But then Nick becomes a drunken wreck and tries to blackmail Kim about her affair with Dave. Nick is way out of his depth here, Kim even tells him that. But when Nick tries to grab Kim’s horse and falls over, Kim runs him over with the horse! Then she lets all the horses loose to make it look like an accident! Nick ends up seriously injured in hospital.

Kim manipulates Frank to give Nick his job and accomodation back (saying “he did it out of desperation” and “he has a young daughter”), and pointing out it will be good P.R. to show themselves as compassionate, forgiving employers. Then she visits Nick in hospital to tell him “if you do anything stupid again, or open your mouth to anybody, it won’t be you in this hospital bed, it’ll be Alice!”. Then completely denies it after Nick tells Dave and Dave asks her! That Kim is able to convincingly switch back and forth this way is quite scary in itself! Most likely, the threat against Alice was an empty one and she was trying to frighten and manipulate Nick, but I’d say the events of this storyline were the point Kim crossed the line into becoming Emmerdale‘s evil superbitch ubervillain, and a sign for the stuff she would get up to in the future…

I did notice at the time that some of Emmerdale cast in 1995 had appeared in BBC sitcoms.

Michelle Holmes (Britt Woods) played ’90s wife Yvonne in the first three series of Goodnight Sweetheart.

Sandra Gough (Nellie Dingle) played Paul and Pauline Calf’s mum in Paul Calf’s Video Diary and Paul Calf’s Wedding Video.

Johnny Leeze (Ned Glover) played Inspector Cox in series 2 of The League Of Gentlemen, mostly memorable for blood dripping from his nose after eating butcher Hilary Briss’ “special stuff”.

Alun Lewis (Vic Windsor) played Darryl Stubbs in Birds Of A Feather. He’s the one I most recognised at the time. But the really weird coincidence is that Douglas McFerran, who took over the role of Darryl Stubbs in Birds Of A Feather, was also in Emmerdale in 1995! Douglas McFerran played Ken Adlington. Adlington was a farmer who turned out to be a right scumbag – he attacked and attempted to rape Zoe Tate! On top of that, he was a wife beater as well. He faced no legal repercussions. It was his word against Zoe’s, so it never came to court, and Frank and Zoe sadly acknowledged even if it did, the likely scenerio would be manipulative solicitors and a bigoted jury being against Zoe. Frank beat Adlington up (which ended up not coming to court either), and a combination of Zoe’s girlfriend Emma Nightingale making leaflets warning women against Adlington, and Adlington’s own obnoxious behaviour meant the village as a whole saw that Zoe was telling the truth, so he had a comeuppance of sorts.

Old TV shows can be a time capsule, in that you notice signs of a bygone era. It’s fun spotting some of the stock in the Post Office shop, like the retro chocolate wrappers, such as Taz bars. There are Pogs as well – I remember that playground fad! And Hooch, the “alcoholic lemonade” with the cartoon lemon! That was something that was talked about – in fact, I vaguely remember it being a mini-moral panic!

Nellie writes to the Queen, John Major and Terry Wogan for help for the Dingles losing their farm. At the time, I think the joke was about her writing to the Head of State, the Prime Minister and… a famous presenter and talkshow host. So Terry Wogan would have been the funniest of those three names in 1995, but in 2020, I think John Major is the funniest one, as of those three he’s the name that’s most tied to a particular time.

There’s also a cassette tape of Oasis – Definitely Maybe seen in a student flat, references to Blur and Suede, Butch Dingle using a tape based camcorder, Robert Sugden having a Jurrassic Park poster on his bedroom wall, and there’s a reference to racing driver Nigel Mansell, the 1992/1993 Formula One World Chapionship winnner. Plus mentions of the TV show Gladiators, and TV stars of the ’90s like Pamela Anderson and Paul Daniels.

Ex-rugby player turned barman Terry Woods plays a Game Boy in one episode. Biff drinks out of a Wispa mug – my dad had one of those!

I mentioned about the Plane Crash episode that mobile phones aren’t something which most people have, the ones that do are the rich Tates or business people from a city. The mobile phones are also big, chunky things that can only be used as, well, a mobile phone, not all the uses they have today. Kathy at one point has to use a computer, and she has no idea how! Which reminded me that wasn’t at all unusual in the mid ’90s, but now it would be very strange for most people, let alone someone like Kathy who wants to start a business, to not know how to use a computer. Then there’s the fact this was before minimum wage laws, with Jack Sugden telling people who come to work as farmhands that he can’t pay them very much. It shows you how much has changed!

Emmerdale is set in Yorkshire, where I’m from, but I never really noticed the “local” aspect if it while growing up. I knew where they were talking about when they mentioned Leeds and so on, but at the time I wasn’t aware of the significance of it being mentioned on TV, that it’s quite rare! I’m not going to go on one of those rants about UK media being London-centric etc, but I appreciate the local aspect of Emmerdale more on rewatch! There are also things like Black Sheep ale being available in The Woolpack. Emma Nightingale mentions going to a gallery in Dewsbury, my home town. A lot of galleries tended to be held in the town hall, so it would most likely have been there.

A clip of cute, gambolling lambs managed to survive a few title sequence revamps! Fair enough, cute, gambolling lambs are kind of an evergreen image in terms of appeal, but those lambs in the footage were probably long gone or at least mutton by the later years it was used!

I have really enjoyed these old episodes of Emmerdale, they have been very watchable, and I think they’ve held up quite well, dare I say it, but I think they’ve held up better than Classic Coronation Steet. The Yorkshire countryside scenery is nice to look at, and I think it is shown off better in these episodes than in present day Emmerdale, as it was filmed in real villages rather than a studio set. I may do another post about Classic Emmerdale later on, I certainly hope to write a post about Zoe Tate.

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