1981 was Emmerdale's 10th year. Storylines included Pat Merrick's divorce from Tom Merrick and her growing relationship with Jack Sugden, a break-in at Emmerdale Farm with the burgular accidentally fatally running over sheepdog Snip, Amos Brearly being sacked from the Hotten Courier and setting up rival newspaper the Beckindale Bugle and Richard Anstey's affair with his boss' wife, Virginia Lattimore. 68 episodes were broadcast this year.


Stan Richards - Grandad's Motto

Sleeve of Stan Richards' single 'Grandad's Motto' released in November.

Anne W. Gibbons continued as producer for her second year onscreen. Her only notable addition to the cast this year was Drew Dawson as NY Estates workman Jock MacDonald who, while only appearing in two episodes this year, would go on to appear consistently through the remainder of the decade.

A dispute at Yorkshire Television called a halt to filming in October as seventy electrician staff went on strike, in response to four workers being suspended. The strike lasted from the 1st October through to the 29th. The programme only had enough episodes banked to air until Episode 696 which aired on 5th November and, as a result, was pulled from the schedule a month early, with repeats going out in the afternoon to keep the show in the public eye. Shooting began for the next block once the dispute was resolved but these would not be seen on screen until January 1982, beginning with Episode 703. As a result of the strike, Episode 697 to Episode 702 never made it to the screen and though Lance Parkin's 30 Years of Emmerdale book notes that the episodes were "made but never transmitted", there is no evidence to suggest that when production resumed these episodes were filmed.

In November 1981, Stan Richards (as Stan & The Gang) released a single on 7" vinyl titled 'Grandad's Motto'. The song was based on a Yorkshireman's advice to his son and captured the essence of Seth Armstrong's character ("See all, hear all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt!"). The track was written by Geoff Ashford and released on the Spy 80 label.

The programme once again took a summer break, this time remaining off air over July and August.


# Ep.
Date Writer Director Viewing
1629Tuesday 6th January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
2630Thursday 8th January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
3631Tuesday 13th January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
4632Thursday 15th January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
5633Tuesday 20th January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
6634Thursday 22nd January Douglas WatkinsonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
7635Tuesday 27th January Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
8636Thursday 29th January Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
9637Tuesday 3rd February Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
10638Thursday 5th February Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
11639Tuesday 10th February Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
12640Thursday 12th February Chris BarlasMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
13641Tuesday 17th February Ken BlakesonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
14642Thursday 19th February Ken BlakesonRichard Handfordn/kn/k
15643Tuesday 24th February Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
16644Thursday 26th February Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
17645Tuesday 3rd March Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
18646Thursday 5th March Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
19647Tuesday 10th March Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
20648Thursday 12th March Alan JamesRichard Handfordn/kn/k
21649Tuesday 17th March Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
22650Thursday 19th March Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
23651Tuesday 24th March Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
24652Thursday 26th March Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
25653Tuesday 31st March Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
26654Thursday 2nd April Kevin LaffanDarrol Blaken/kn/k
27655Tuesday 7th April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
28656Thursday 9th April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
29657Tuesday 14th April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
30658Thursday 16th April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
31659Tuesday 21st April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
32660Thursday 23rd April Michael RussellPhilip Draycottn/kn/k
33661Tuesday 28th April Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
34662Thursday 30th April Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
35663Tuesday 5th May Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
36664Thursday 7th May Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
37665Tuesday 12th May Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
38666Thursday 14th May Freda KelsallLen Lurcockn/kn/k
39667Tuesday 19th May Tim VaughanJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
40668Thursday 21st May Tim VaughanJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
41669Tuesday 26th May Alan DownerJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
42670Thursday 28th May Alan DownerJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
43671Tuesday 2nd June Alan DownerJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
44672Thursday 4th June Alan DownerJohn Michael Phillipsn/kn/k
45673Tuesday 9th June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
46674Thursday 11th June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
47675Tuesday 16th June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
48676Thursday 18th June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
49677Tuesday 23rd June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
50678Thursday 25th June Peter WhitbreadDarrol Blaken/kn/k
51679Tuesday 8th September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
52680Thursday 10th September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
53681Tuesday 15th September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
54682Thursday 17th September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
55683Tuesday 22nd September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
56684Thursday 24th September Kevin LaffanLen Lurcockn/kn/k
57685Tuesday 29th September Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
58686Thursday 1st October Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
59687Tuesday 6th October Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
60688Thursday 8th October Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
61689Tuesday 13th October Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
62690Thursday 15th October Freda KelsallMike Gibbonn/kn/k
63691Tuesday 20th October Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
64692Thursday 22nd October Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
65693Tuesday 27th October Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
66694Thursday 29th October Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
67695Tuesday 3rd November Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k
68696Thursday 5th November Tim VaughanMervyn Cummingn/kn/k

Main CastEdit

Ranking Character Played by Duration Number of Episodes Running total Previous year's ranking
1Henry WilksArthur PentelowFull year686661
1Matt SkilbeckFrederick PyneFull year686643
1Joe SugdenFrazer HinesFull year686537
1Dolly SkilbeckJean RogersFull year682957
1Jack SugdenClive HornbyFull year682466
6Amos BrearlyRonald MagillFull year66664 1
6Seth ArmstrongStan RichardsFull year66130 11
8Richard AnsteyCarl RiggFull year62112 9
8Pat MerrickHelen WeirFull year62101 13
10Sandie MerrickJane HutchesonFull year6179 14
11Jackie MerrickIan SharrockFull year6078 14
12Annie SugdenSheila MercierFull year except February54654 5
12Sam PearsonToke TownleyFull year except March54614 4
14Donald HintonHugh ManningUntil February, April to September40189 12
15Tom MerrickEdward PeelJanuary to April1224 17
16Jock MacDonaldDrew DawsonNovember only22 -


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Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s
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