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Format Soap opera
Created by Kevin Laffan
Starring Present cast
Former cast
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes

6522[ +]

(as of 9 April 2013)
Executive producer(s) Various
(currently John Whiston)
Producer(s) Various
(currently Kate Oates)
Running time 22 mins (excluding advertisements)
Production company(s) ITV Studios
( Yorkshire Television)
Original channel ITV, STV, UTV
Picture format 576i (1972)
4:3 (1972–2001)
16:9 (2002–11)
1080i HD (2011–present)
Original run 16 October 1972 – present
(700140000000000000040 years, 7002178000000000000178 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 was first broadcast on 16 October 1972. It is produced by Yorkshire Television, now part of ITV Studios, and has been filmed at their Yorkshire Studios since its inception. It has since been shown in all regions of ITV almost throughout its existence. It is the UK's second oldest soap opera and one of the 'Top 4' alongside Coronation Street, EastEnders and Hollyoaks.

It was originally broadcast as a daytime programme in an afternoon slot, becoming an early evening programme in 1978 in most ITV regions, but excluding London and Anglia, both of which followed in the mid-1980s. Until Christmas 1988, Emmerdale took seasonal breaks; since then it has been broadcast year-round.

Emmerdale half-hourly episodes are shown every weekday at 7pm with an extra Thursday episode being aired at 8pm (beginning 23 July 2009). Episodes are first broadcast on the ITV Network. On 10 October 2011, Emmerdale began broadcasting in high definition on ITV HD (also STV HD & UTV HD).


The basic premise of Emmerdale Farm was very similar to the BBC radio soap opera The Archers – focusing on a family, a farm and characters in a nearby village.

The farmyard filming techniques of Emmerdale Farm were originally modelled on the revolutionary soap-opera The Riordans, made by RTÉ, Ireland's broadcaster, from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s. The Riordans broke new ground for soap operas by being filmed largely out of doors (on a farm owned in the storyline by Tom and Mary Riordan) rather than the usual practice of British and American soap operas, of shooting almost completely in studios (where 'outdoor' scenes were sometimes filmed indoors). The Riordans pioneered farmyard location shooting with real farm animals and actors driving tractors. In the 1960s and 1970s, outdoor filming of television programmes using OBUs (Outdoor Broadcast Units) was in its infancy due to the far higher costs involved and the reliance on things like the weather that were out of the control of the programme makers.

The success of The Riordans showed that a soap opera could be filmed largely out of doors. Yorkshire Television sent people to The Riordans set in County Meath, Ireland to see the making of the programme at first hand.

Characters, residences and businesses

Emmerdale has featured a huge number of characters since it began of all different durations and the cast has gradually expanded in size. It has also had changing residences and businesses for the characters.

Series backstory

The Miffield estate was the biggest employer in the village of Beckindale – situated 39 miles (63 km) from Bradford and 52 miles (84 km) from Leeds. Lord Miffield gave the lease of Emmerdale Farm on the edge of the village to the Sugden family in the 1850s out of gratitude after Josh Sugden sacrificed his life for the Earl's son in the Crimean War.

Josh's grandson, Joseph, married Margaret Oldroyd and they had a son, Jacob, in January 1916. In the 1930s, the young Jacob Sugden supposedly purchased Emmerdale Farm. In 1945 he married Annie Pearson – daughter of farm labourer, Sam Pearson. Margaret Sugden died in 1963 and Joseph Sugden died in 1964.

Jacob Sugden had run the farm into the ground as he drank away most of the profits, leaving it in a sorry state. It was badly maintained and the future of the farm looked bleak at the time of Jacob's death on 10 October 1972. Jacob left a wife, Annie, and three grown children, Jack (the eldest) and Joe (the youngest of the three) and daughter Peggy. These characters would form the basis of the series Emmerdale Farm.

The first episode

The first episode of Emmerdale Farm opened with the funeral of Jacob Sugden on 16 October 1972.

Jacob had upset the family when he left the farm to his eldest son, Jack, who had not been seen since 1964, when at the age of 18 he left his family, heritage and Beckindale – for London.

Jack Sugden returned to the farm in this opening episode, although he chose to stay away from the funeral – making his presence known only after the service when the Sugdens returned to their home, Emmerdale Farm – where they found him waiting for them.

In subsequent months, Jack sold a share of the Farm to Annie, Joe, Peggy and his grandfather Sam Pearson. Emmerdale Farm Ltd was formed after Henry Wilks bought Sam's share of the estate.

The first episode, as with all episodes, have been repeated/released at various times on various media.

Characters introduced in the first episode of Emmerdale Farm were:

  • Annie Sugden ( Sheila Mercier)
  • Jack Sugden ( Andrew Burt)
  • Peggy Skilbeck ( Jo Kendall)
  • Matt Skilbeck ( Frederick Pyne)
  • Joe Sugden ( Frazer Hines)
  • Sam Pearson ( Toke Townley)
  • Amos Brearly ( Ronald Magill)
  • Henry Wilks ( Arthur Pentelow)
  • Marian Wilks ( Gail Harrison)
  • Alec Saunders ( Alan Tucker)

Series overview

The first 21 years

Initially the show focused on the farm and the Sugden family who lived on and ran it. As time went on, the show's focus moved to the nearby village of Beckindale. To reflect this change, the show's title was changed on 14 November 1989 to Emmerdale. Coinciding with the show's 1989 title change was the introduction of the Tate family. These changes, and the introduction of 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 and were overseen by the new executive producer, Keith Richardson, who was in charge of the programme for 24 years, during which time he oversaw its transformation from a minor, daytime, rural drama, into one of the UK's most major soaps. The Windsor family arrived in 1993.

Plane crash and the following 15 years

In October 1993, the show had turned 21 and a couple of months later celebrated by airing a story which would mark a turning point in its history. On 30 December 1993 Emmerdale attracted its highest ever audience of over 18 million when a plane crashed into the village, killing four villagers. This led to the villagers deciding to have the village name changed from Beckindale to Emmerdale to help get over the plane crash.

Emmerdale continued to have dramatic storylines for the rest of the 90s, and new long-term characters, such as the Dingle family, were introduced. The Tates emerged as the soap's leading family in the 1990s, overshadowing the Sugdens. After their arrival, the Tate family remained in Home Farm for 16 years, albeit with the size of the family decreasing over time as members left or were killed off, with the last, Zoe, leaving in 2005.

The early and mid-2000s saw episodes such as the storm (a storyline that occurred 10 years after the plane crash one and was of a similar kind, although not as major), the bus crash, the Kings River explosion, Sarah Sugden's death at the hands of her adopted son in the barn fire, the Sugden House Fire, which was caused in 2007 by Victoria Sugden seeking the truth about her mothers death seven years earlier, etc. It also saw the introduction of many major long-term characters, including the King family and Cain and Charity Dingle - who both later left before returning to the soap in 2009.


In 2009, the longest-serving character, Jack Sugden, was killed off, following the death the previous year of actor Clive Hornby, who had played Jack since 1980. Jack's funeral featured the first on-screen appearance for 13 years of Annie Sugden ( Sheila Mercier). Also in early 2009, veteran Executive Producer, Keith Richardson, bowed out of the show to be replaced by former series producer, Steve November (who has since been replaced by John Whiston), and at the same time Gavin Blyth became series producer but later died and was replaced by Stuart Blackburn. During his tenure with the show, Blyth was highly praised for increasing ratings (as well as re-introducing Cain and Charity, he brought in the Sharma, Barton and Macey families and overseen some very strong storylines such as the Wylde family's dramas and the start of the Aaron and Jackson Saga) and his fairly sudden death at a relatively young age was a shock to all. Emmerdale continues to be much loved, delivering strong drama, and Blackburn has built on Blyth's success; introducing characters such as Cameron Murray and the Spencer family, presiding over major storylines such as Cain's Judgement Day and Laurel and Marlon and The Vicar's downfall.

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. On 25 June 2012, it was announced that Tony Prescott, who directed the Coronation Street: 50th anniversary live episode in December 2010 would direct the episode. On 23 July 2012, it was reported that an ITV2 Backstage Show titled Emmerdale Uncovered: Live would be broadcast after the live episode. On 14 August 2012, it was announced that Emmerdale's production team are building a new Woolpack set for the live episode. Although Emmerdale's village and studio-based interior sets are miles apart, show bosses are keen for The Woolpack to feature in the special episode. On 31 August 2012, it was announced that Emmerdale had created and filmed a live music festival which featured performances from Scouting for Girls and The Proclaimers. On 6 September 2012, it was confirmed that the live episode would feature a shock death, two weddings and two births and would be an hour-long episode.

Emmerdale Live aired on Wednesday 17 October 2012, in the middle of the 40th anniversary week, with the death revealed to be that of Carl King. Carl's death is set to have major repurcussions for the village, as one of the continuing strong storylines that will take the show into 2013, at which time a new series producer will take over due to Blackburn moving to Coronation Street as its series producer. Blackburn delivered an excellent anniversary week for Emmerdale and has said that high drama will continue. He has also brought back the popular character of Bernice Blackstock who will return on-screen in November. One of Blackburn's last acts as producer of Emmerdale has been to introduce four new characters; an old mate of Rhona Goskirk's, the partner of Bernice, and a father-daughter duo.

The following three sections highlight the major disasters, exits, and other episodes with high viewing figures.

Families in Emmerdale

Like with many soaps, Emmerdale has produced many memorable families over the past 40 years, many of them defining an entire era of the show the Sugdens and their extended relatives the Merricks and the Skilbecks, were at the centre of the show during the soaps first two decades during the 1970s and 1980s when the series was still called; Emmerdale Farm, the Sugden's were the soaps first family as they owned Emmerdale Farm and although many of its members have either left or been killed off gradually since the mid-1990s, There are still some Sugdens left in the village, such as Jack Sugden's widow; Diane Sugden his two children Andy Sugden and Victoria Sugden, Andy's children to Debbie Dingle; Sarah and Jack (the latter was born on 16 October 2012, forty years after the show started) and lastly Andy's ex-wife Katie Sugden (now Macey), however following the arrival of the wealthy, glamourous Tates in 1989 (their arrival coincided with the Farm being dropped from the title), the middle class Windsors in 1993 (they would be later known as the Hope family following Viv's remarriage to Bob Hope in 2001) and the ne'erdowell Dingles in 1994, the Sugden's would take a backseat role in the show, The Tate's, The Windsor-Hope's and the Dingles all herald in a bright new era in Emmerdale and were at the centre of the show's biggest storylines of the 1990s and 2000s an era often cited by critics and fans alike as being Emmerdale's golden age due to the big storylines of those two decades such as the Plane Crash in 1993, The Home Farm siege in 1994, the Post Office robbery in 1998, the Bus crash in 2000, the Storm in 2003/04 and the House Collapse in 2006, all of which the Tate's, Windsor-Hope's and Dingle families were directly involved with, by the mid to late 2000s however, the last of the Tate family; Zoe Tate, her daughter Jean Tate and her nephew Joseph Tate had vacated Home Farm for a new life in New Zealand in early 2006, various members of the Windsor-Hope's had left the Village, with the matriarch and popular character Viv Hope being killed off in a village fire in Feb 2011 after nearly 18 years on the show, as of 2013 there are no Windsor's left in the village and only Bob and his twin children; Cathy and Heathcliff Hope remain, The majority of the Dingles are still left in the village though their circumstances have changed in the two decades they have been in the village, with many of its members becoming business owners and hold professional jobs, such as Chas Dingle owning half of the Woolpack and Marlon being a chef, as of 2013 The Kings (they have been in the show since 2004 but rose in prominence in 2006/07), along with The Sharma, the Barton, the Macey and the Spencer families have now taken the centre spot in the show previously occupied by the Tate, Windsor-Hope and Dingle families and are now majorly involved in Emmerdale's storylines and have begun a new era in the show.


Emmerdale has featured a number of incidents and disasters over the years. Some are listed below:

  • 1973 - Sharon Crossthwaite was raped and strangled by Jim Latimer. Jack Sugden discovered the truth after arriving home to find Jim trying to strangle Penny Golightly, after which Jim reluctantly confessed to killing Sharon.
  • 1973 - Jack Sugden's lodger Ian 'Trash' McIntyre died trying to escape first floor window at The Old Mill where Jack had locked him in for his own safety and falling to the ground, breaking his neck.
  • 1976 - Matt Skilbeck's twin children, Sam and Sally, and his aunt Beattie Dowton were killed in an accident at a level crossing when their car was hit by a train.
  • 1976 - Heather Bannerman crashed into the front gate at Emmerdale Farm while driving along after borrowing her husband's car.
  • 1977 - A great storm broke out over Beckindale. Young couple Ray & Sarah Oswell sought refuge at Emmerdale Farm after their own cottage was destroyed by a tree struck by lightning.
  • 1977 - A fire broke out at Emmerdale Farm and the Beckindale Volunteer Fire Service arrived to fight the blaze. During the fire fighting, one of the members of the team suffered severe burns.
  • 1977 - A fire broke out in the village and the blame was allocated to tourists that had been staying in the barn that set alight.
  • 1978 - An explosion at a mine trapped vicar's son Clive Hinton and his two friends Ian and Rod. Clive and Rod were found unconscious and Ian escaped with cuts and bruises.
  • 1978 - Teenagers Steve Hawker and Pip Coulter committed an armed robbery at The Woolpack and left Amos Brearly and Henry Wilks locked in the cellar. The two teenagers then headed for Emmerdale Farm where they held Sam Pearson at gunpoint. To save her father, Annie Sugden provided the two with a getaway car.
  • 1981 - Religious farmer Enoch Tolly was killed in a tractor accident.
  • 1982 - In a fit of rage after being sacked from NY Estates by Alan Turner, Jackie Merrick went off the rails and set fire to one of NY's caravans.
  • 1985 - Jackie Merrick was knocked off his motorbike by Alan Turner's land rover and spent five months in hospital with broken bones.
  • 1986 – Pat Sugden died when she crashed her car down a hillside after swerving to avoid a flock of sheep.
  • 1987 - Jackie Merrick accidentally fell down a disused mineshaft whilst trying to rescue a stray sheep.
  • 1988 – Phil Pearce carelessly left discarded rags at Crossgill Farm, which caught fire, trapping Annie Sugden inside.
  • 1989 - Crooked quarryman Dennis Rigg was crushed to death by Joe Sugden's prize bull whilst threatening the Sugdens with eviction.
  • 1989 - Jackie Merrick accidentally shot himself whilst out hunting a fox for a £10 bet.
  • 1990 - Frank and Kim Tate arrived home to find the Home Farm barn conversion had been set alight. Michael Feldmann was initially suspected, but the culprit later turned out to be farm labourer Jock McDonald.
  • 1990 - Kate Sugden accidentally knocked down and killed Pete Whiteley whilst driving home from Hotten.
  • 1990 - A chemical tanker crashed into the village trapping Amos Brearly in the Woolpack cellar.
  • 1993/1994 – A Plane crashed in Beckindale, leaving most of the village in ruins and killing Archie Brooks, Elizabeth Pollard, Mark Hughes and Leonard Kempinski.
  • 1994 – Shirley Turner was shot dead during the Home Farm raid by Reg Dawson, the ex-husband of Viv Windsor.
  • 1995 – Luke McAllister died after his van crashed into a wall and exploded in flames.
  • 1996 – Dave Glover died in a fire at Home Farm after attending the wedding of Biff Fowler to his sister Linda Glover.
  • 1997 – At the engagement party of Steve Marchant and Kim Tate, Lord Alex Oakwell took Linda Fowler for a late-night drive and crashed through a fence on to a tree while trying to snort cocaine. He removed Linda from the passenger seat as she was starting to wake up and moved her to the driver's seat and fled the scene of the accident, leaving Linda to die.
  • 1999 – Graham Clark killed Rachel Hughes by pushing her off a cliff.
  • 2000 – A van and minibus collide in the village. Van driver Pete Collins dies at the scene; minibus passenger Butch Dingle dies in hospital from his injuries the next day.
  • 2000 – Long-serving character Sarah Sugden died in a barn fire that was started deliberately by her adopted son Andy. Sarah's lover Richie Carter was also trapped in the barn but was rescued by Sarah's husband Jack.
  • 2001 – Jean Strickland, the local school headmistress was struck and killed by a stolen car driven by student Marc Reynolds on his way home from a night out with friends.
  • 2003/2004 – A large storm hit Emmerdale, leaving parts of the village in ruins with collapsed power lines and trees. The Woolpack was damaged when the chimney was struck by lightning which collapsed through the roof into the bar area and also on the front, crushing Tricia Dingle which resulted in her dying in hospital a week later; Ashley Thomas and Louise Appleton became stuck on the road as a result of the terrible weather. The disaster took place on the 10th anniversary of the plane crash.
  • 2005 – Max King died when the Land Rover he was in went off the road and through a brick wall and exploded, although the driver Andy Sugden escaped the car unharmed and gave a false story about the accident to avoid being prosecuted; and the police believed his version of events, as there were no witnesses to contradict his story.
  • 2006 – Kings River showhome collapsed after several explosions caused by a gas leak. The accident claimed three lives: Noreen Bell and estate agent David Brown were killed in the explosion and Dawn Woods later died in hospital from internal injuries.
  • 2006 – Tom King was murdered on Christmas Day when his son Carl hit him over the head with a horse statue and pushed him out of a window.
  • 2007 – DCI Grace Barraclough was killed instantly when she was run over by a lorry while on the way to the police station to report Carl for killing his father, Tom King.
  • 2007 – Victoria Sugden threatened her father, Jack, and adoptive brother, Andy, that if they didn't admit who killed her mum, she would burn the family home down, with them all trapped inside. Andy admitted he was responsible but the fuel ignited accidentally when the boiler started up and set the house on fire. The house was gutted but the family survived.
  • 2008 – Matthew King was killed after crashing a van into a wall while trying to run over his brother, Carl. The brothers had been fighting as Carl had ruined Matthew's wedding to Anna De Souza earlier that day.
  • 2010 – Aaron Livesy and Jackson Walsh go on a night out together along with Paddy Kirk and Marlon Dingle. After arguing with Aaron, Jackson's van stalled on a railway line and was hit by a goods train, leaving him paralysed from the neck down.
  • 2011 – A fire started by corrupt policeman Nick Henshall tore through the village, killing Terry Woods and Viv Hope.
  • 2012 - John and Moira Barton go to a hotel for some private time, booked by their son, as they had decided not to divorce after all. Whilst driving, John hits a patch of black ice and the Land Rover crashes into a ravine. Moira is rescued by Declan Macey and Katie Sugden but the vehicle falls off a ledge into the ravine with John trapped inside. He later died in hospital.
  • 2012- On Emmerdale's 40th anniversary, Carl King is brutally murdered by love rival Cameron Murray when he is hit with a brick, after attempting to rape former lover Chas Dingle.
  • 2012- After an argument, Declan Macey tries to run away. Katie Macey follows him, but ends up falling into a mine shaft and being trapped underground. She is later found by Sam Dingle after she crawled through the mineshaft and ends up in a wheelchair, and later collapses in the Woolpack in pain and learns in hospital that she has to have an ovary removed.

Viewing figures and popularity

An average Emmerdale episode generally attracts 7-10 million viewers, making it one of Britain's most watched television programmes. However, notable episodes and storylines have seen higher viewing figures:

  • On 30 December 1993 Emmerdale attracted its highest audience of 18 million when a plane crashed into the village killing four villagers. The aftermath of the plane crash on 5 January 1994 attracted 16 million viewers.
  • On 27 May 1997 Emmerdale attracted over 13 million viewers when Frank Tate died of a heart attack, after his wife, Kim Tate, returned after faking her own death months before.
  • On 20 October 1998 Emmerdale attracted 12.5 million viewers when the Woolpack exploded after being burnt down with fireworks.
  • On 1 January 2004 Emmerdale attracted 11.19 million viewers when the village was hit by a storm, which caused the Woolpack roof to collapse after it was struck by lightning, which then collapsed onto Tricia Dingle, who died from her injuries in hospital.
  • On 21 September 2006, 8.57 million viewers watched the exit of Cain Dingle after more than six years in the soap.
  • On Christmas Day 2006, 7.69 million viewers watched as Tom King was murdered on his wedding day to Rosemary Sinclair.
  • 7 January 2010, when Sally Spode tried to kiss Ashley Thomas- Emmerdale had 9.47 million viewers, the first time it had topped 9 million since February 2007.
  • On Thursday 14 January 2010, Emmerdale hit their highest ratings since March 2006 when 9.96 million viewers watched Mark Wylde being shot dead by his wife Natasha Wylde after a week-long online "Whodunnit?".
  • 6 October 2010, Emmerdale has 7.94 million viewers with Jackson Walsh and Aaron Livesy in a train crash, leaving Jackson critically injured.
  • 25 and 26 October 2010, Emmerdale over 7 million viewers to watch the culmination of the Ryan Lamb's murder trial, despite his innocence. The following night (27 October 2010) an audience of nearly 8 million tuned in for Natasha Wylde's confession to the crime after her daughter Maisie pushed for the truth from kidnapped Nathan.
  • On 4 January 2011 Emmerdale pulled in 9.04 million viewers for a storyline involving Val Pollard investigating the death of her husband Eric Pollard's late wife Elizabeth.
  • On 13 January 2011, 9.04 million watched as a fire ripped through the village, killing long standing characters Viv Hope and Terry Woods.

Head to head with EastEnders

Over the years Emmerdale has gone head to head with BBC's EastEnders. Occasions where Emmerdale attracted more viewers than Eastenders include:

  • 18 May 2004, when Jack Sugden was shot by his adopted son Andy Sugden. Emmerdale attracted 8.27 million viewers, whilst EastEnders received 7.32 million viewers.
  • 21 September 2004, when Diane Blackstock and Jack Sugden got married. Emmerdale attracted 8.72 million viewers, whilst EastEnders received 6.83 million viewers.
  • 4 January 2005, when Sadie King sabotaged the wedding of Tom King and Charity Dingle. Emmerdale attracted 9.89 million viewers, whilst EastEnders received 7.53 million viewers.
  • 1 March 2005, when Charity Dingle left the soap after five years. Emmerdale was watched by 10.08 million viewers, whilst EastEnders was watched by 7.21 million viewers.
  • 17 March 2005, when Shelly Williams fell overboard from the Isle of Arran ferry off the west coast of Scotland during a confrontation with Steph Stokes. Emmerdale was watched by 9.39 million viewers, whilst EastEnders was watched by 6.96 million viewers.
  • 22 September 2005, when long standing popular character Zoe Tate left the soap after 16 years and made an exit which saw her blow up Home Farm, which she been conned into selling to the King family. Emmerdale was watched by 8.58 million viewers, whilst EastEnders was watched by 6.76 million viewers for the funeral of Den Watts.
  • 13 July 2006, The Kings River house collapse. Emmerdale won in the ratings battle, attracting 6.90 million viewers, whilst EastEnders was watched by 4.11 million viewers, its lowest ever.
  • 21 September 2006, when Cain Dingle kidnapped Tom and Sadie King. Emmerdale won in the ratings battle, attracting 8.57 million viewers, whilst EastEnders had 4.77 million viewers.
  • 1 February 2007, when Billy Hopwood with Victoria Sugden crashed his truck into a lake. EastEnders episode involved two of its most high profile characters, Martin and Sonia Fowler, leaving. Emmerdale attracted 8.15 million viewers with EastEnders gaining 6.70 million viewers.
  • 17 May 2007, when the Who Killed Tom King? plot came to a close when the murderer was revealed. Emmerdale gained 8.92 million viewers, which peaked to 9.1 million when Tom's son Carl confessed to the murder between 19:00 and 20:00. EastEnders had 4.29 million between 19:30 and 20:00.
  • 16 October 2007, when Annie's Cottage was blown up by Victoria Sugden. Emmerdale was watched by 8.12 million viewers, whilst EastEnders was watched by 6.59 million viewers.
  • 27 January 2009, when Debbie Dingle was arrested for the murder of Shane Doyle. Emmerdale attracted 7.39 million viewers, whilst EastEnders attracted 6.36 million viewers.
  • 16 February 2012, Emmerdale averaged 7.21 million (30.3%) across its hour-long slot from 19:30 as John and wife Moira have a horrific road accident. A further 351,000 (1.5%) watched an hour later on ITV +1. During the 30-minute clash period with from 19:30, Emmerdale had 6.93 million and a 27.9% share, beating Eastenders which only attracted 5.64 million (22.7%) at 19:30.
  • 17 October 2012, Emmerdale's live episode was viewed by an average audience of 8.83 million and a peak of 9.15 million from 7pm and 8pm. The show had a 40% share of the audience between those times.

Awards and nominations

Filming locations

Esholt, West Yorkshire, used for the outdoor exterior scenes from 1976–1997
The purpose built village set, constructed by Yorkshire Television in 1997 on the Harewood estate in Eccup, near Leeds, West Yorkshire

Location shooting originally occurred in the village of Arncliffe in Littondale, one of the less frequented valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. In exterior shots the village's hotel, The Falcon was used to represent the fictional Woolpack Inn. Eventually the filming location became publicly known, which is perhaps what prompted the move to the village of Esholt in 1976, where it stayed for the next 22 years. This location also became a tourist attraction and the village pub (previously 'the Commercial Hotel') has retained the adopted name of The Woolpack Inn.

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

Since 1998 a purpose-built set on the Harewood estate in Leeds has been used (building on the Harewood estate started in 1996). The first scenes shot in the purpose-built set on the Harewood Estate were broadcast on 17 February 1998 from the front of the Woolpack (although some scenes were shot there from 1997). The Harewood set is a replica of Esholt with a few minor alterations.

The houses in the new village at Harewood are timber framed structures covered in stone cladding. The village is built on green belt land so all the buildings are classed as "temporary structures" and must be demolished within ten years unless new planning permission is given. There is no plan to demolish the set and new planning has now been drawn up. The new village included a church and a churchyard full of gravestones some of them for the characters who have died in the serial.

The site incorporates a 1500 ft grass airstrip, and a Cessna 172 is hangared in the farm at the entrance. The aircraft, in an open barn, is visible from Eccup Lane.

Butlers Farm is really Brookland Farm, a working farm located in the nearby village of Eccup. Brookland Farm is where all the external farmyard and building shots are filmed with the internal house shots being filmed in the studio.

Much location footage is carried out in other areas of the City of Leeds, and other locations in West Yorkshire, such as the fictional market town of Hotten which is actually shot in Otley, a market town on the outskirts of Leeds. The Benton Park School in the Rawdon area of the city and the primary school in Farnley were also used as shooting locations. Indoor scenes are mostly filmed at Yorkshire Television's 'Emmerdale Production Centre' on Kirkstall Road, Leeds (located next to the main Yorkshire Television's Leeds Studios). As of 28 March 2011, new studio facilities (which are HD capable) in the ITV Studios building on Kirkstall Road are being used for most of the interior scenes, the old facility on Burley Road will be vacated and offered for sale in due course.


Emmerdale have in the past been sponsored by a number of commercial partners including Daz, Heinz, Calgon, Airwick, Veet, Lemsip, Tombola Bingo and bet365 Bingo. Emmerdale has been sponsored by Bet365 Bingo since March 2012.

Emmerdale's first sponsorship was Daz from 14 December 1999 to 20 February 2002 featuring Johno and Barry, who are seen indulging in their favourite pastime — sitting on the kitchen floor watching the washing machine go through its cycle. Each has a distinctive character, revealed through a series of dramas which unfold as the dogs chat to each other while sitting in front of the washing machine, much as humans do when watching television. The Daz sponsorship was finished in February 2002.

List of longest serving Emmerdale actors (Top 20)

No. Actor Character Duration
1 Richard Thorp Alan Turner 1982– (31 years)
2 Clive Hornby Jack Sugden 1980–2008 (28 years)
3 Chris Chittell Eric Pollard 1986– (27 years)
4 Stan Richards Seth Armstrong 1978–2003,2004 (25 years)
5 Fraser Hines Joe Sugden 1972-1983,1984,1986-1994 (22 years)
6 Sheila Mercier Annie Sugden 1972–94,1995,1996,2009 (22 years)
7 Paula Tilbrook Betty Eagleton 1994– (19 years)
8 Ronald Magill Amos Brearly 1972-1991,1992,1993,1994,1995 (19 years)
9 Steve Halliwell Zak Dingle 1994-2002 2003- (19 years)
10 Arthur Pentelow Henry Wilks 1972-1991 (18 years)
11 Deena Payne Viv Hope 1993-2011 (17 years)
12 Frederick Pyne Matt Skilbeck 1972-89 (17 years)
13 Kelvin Fletcher Andy Sugden 1996- (17 years)
14 Mark Charnock Marlon Dingle 1996- (17 years)
15 Jane Cox Lisa Dingle 1996- (17 years)
16 John Middleton Ashley Thomas 1996- (17 years)
17 Leah Bracknell Zoe Tate 1989-05 (16 years)
18 James Hooton Sam Dingle 1995-98, 2000- (16 years)
19 Billy Hartman Terry Woods 1995-11 (16 years)
20 Dominic Brunt Paddy Kirk 1997- (16 years)


When Emmerdale was first broadcast in 1972, it was twice a week in an afternoon slot. It later moved to a 19:00 slot and the number of episodes has steadily increased, with there now being six half-hour episodes each week. Emmerdale is filmed roughly between 4–6 weeks before it is first broadcast on ITV.

Broadcast schedule history

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Number of
weekly episodes
1972–1988 2
1988–1990 2
1990–1997 2
1997–2000 3
2000–2004 5
2004–2008 6
2008–2009 4 + 1 hour long on Tuesdays
2009–present 6



Emmerdale was shown on CBC Television until 2007, with episodes about four years behind the UK story. On 20 September 2010, VisionTV began showing Emmerdale immediately after EastEnders at 21:30 Eastern time. Episodes were broadcast approximately seven months after airing in the UK.

In 2011, VisionTV cancelled Emmerdale. The last episode was shown on 30 September 2011.


Emmerdale reaches viewers in the Republic of Ireland via both the widely available UTV from Northern Ireland and TV3 in the Republic of Ireland. UTV and TV3 screen Emmerdale simultaneously in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Emmerdale was broadcast as a Daytime soap on RTÉ One from 1972 to 2001 before moving to TV3, RTÉ were a number of months behind – since for many years they choose to broadcast five days a week rather than ITV's three days a week and RTÉ took a break during the summer months, however as the series began a five night week RTÉ got further and further behind ITVs broadcasts. The gap between RTÉ One's last episode and TV3's first episode was about three months.


Emmerdale has been shown in Sweden since the 1970s – originally on public channel TV2 and since 1994 by commercial broadcaster TV4. Under the title Hem till gården ("Home to the Farm"), the programme is broadcast with a double bill (two episodes) on weekdays at 11:55–12:55. Emmerdale is the most watched daytime programme in Sweden attracting some 150,000 to 200,000 viewers on a daily basis. Episodes are also repeated over-night on TV4 and during prime time on digital sister channel TV4 Guld. Episodes currently being screened (April 2013) date from December 2011–January 2012 but will eventually be in phase with UK broadcasts as two episodes are shown daily.


The programme is shown in Finland on commercial channel MTV3 and AVA, where it goes out at 18:00 to 18:30, and 18:30 to 19:00 Mondays to Fridays with a repeat of each episode at 11:00 and 11:25 on the following weekday. The episodes currently being screened (April 2013) date from March–April 2011. Emmerdale has been shown in Finland since 1997.

New Zealand

Emmerdale is shown in New Zealand on TV One from Monday to Friday at 12:30 to 13:30. As at April 2013, TV One episodes are from December 2011. Repeat episodes are played around 04:00 Monday to Friday on TV2.


Emmerdale was shown in Australia for the first time in July 2006 when subscription television channel UKTV began airing the 2006 series from episode 4288. In 2006 UKTV were showing episodes 4 months behind UK transmission, but as from 2007 to 2013 UKTV only airs 5 episodes a week instead of 6 (as broadcast in UK) they are now over 15 months behind. As at April 2013, UKTV episodes are from February 2012. Emmerdale was broadcast on 7Two weekdays at 10:30, airing episodes from 2003. These reruns of the soap ended in February 2012.


On 2 February 2007 it was announced that Emmerdale would be broadcast on the Romanian free-to-air channel Pro TV. The station has bought 50 episodes of the soap dating back to 2000.


  • Satellite channel ITV Choice is currently showing the programme in Asia, Middle East, Cyprus, and Malta.
  • Members of the British Forces and their families can watch Emmerdale on BFBS TV1, which is also available free-to-air in the Falkland Islands
  • When aired in Italian RAI back in the 1980s, the show was retitled Valle di Luna (Moon Valley), because of the homophony of the original title with the local swear word merda.

Theme tunes


The original theme tune created by Tony Hatch was the longest ever to be used. For a number of episode in 1972 a longer version was used to open episodes but from 1973 a shorter version was used. In 1975 when the opening titles changed the piano motif was removed. In 1989 when the word "farm" was dropped from the titles, the Emmerdale theme tune underwent a slight tweak. These changes were carried over until 1992.


When the series was revamped in 1992 the theme tune was updated. A more upbeat piano version was made and used for the opening and closing credits. When the titles changed again 1993 the original theme was used for the closing credits again. But when the titles changed in 1994 the new theme tune was used until the big change in 1998. Also in 1995 the piano motif returned to the end credits.


When the series was revamped for a second time the theme tune was re-recorded for a more orchestral sound. This was to coincide with the move from Esholt to Harewood. It was given a slight tweak in 2003. The end of part music was more akin to the 1972-1989 end of part music.


The theme tune was re-recorded to give a contemporary fresh look to the show. This version differs the most from the previous theme tunes as it wasn't recorded using live instruments. Instead a modern synthesiser was used to create the sounds needed.

Series producers

This is a list of producers, the dates given below are when their first and last episodes aired.

  • David Goddard (October 1972 – January 1973)
  • Peter Holmans (January 1973 – July 1973)
  • Robert D. Cardona (July 1973 – October 1976)
  • Michael Glynn (October 1976 – June 1979)
  • Anne Gibbons (June 1979 – October 1983)
  • Richard Handford (October 1983 – 28 August 1986)
  • Michael Russell (2 September 1986 – 24 March 1988)
  • Stuart Doughty (30 March 1988 – 24 December 1991)
  • Morag Bain (31 December 1991 – 9 December 1993)
  • Nicholas Prosser (14 December 1993 – 24 November 1994)
  • Mervyn Watson (29 November 1994 – 6 August 1998)
  • Kieran Roberts (11 August 1998 – 3 May 2001)
  • Steve Frost (4 May 2001 – 25 February 2005)
  • Kathleen Beedles (28 February 2005 – 29 February 2008)
  • Anita Turner (3 March 2008 – 13 March 2009)
  • Gavin Blyth (16 March 2009 – 8 April 2011)
  • Stuart Blackburn (11 April 2011 – January 2013)
  • Kate Oates (January 2013–)
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