As the Sugden and Skilbeck families gather for the funeral of Jacob Sugden, Jacob's eldest son Jack returns to Emmerdale Farm for the first time in eight years. Jacob has left Jack on the farm in his will and this has caused bad feeling amongst the Sugden children - Peggy and Joe. As the family attend the funeral, Jack wanders around the farm. There he meets Marian Wilks, the daughter of Henry Wilks who has just bought the adjoining land to Emmerdale - Inglebrook. After the funeral is over, Jack makes his return known to the family. He is given a frosty reception by his sister Peggy. Jack, Joe and Peggy's mother, Annie, tells Jack that he's welcome to stay but he must help around the farm. Marian introduces herself to Joe. When Jack finds out Marian's father was a partner in a company that was responsible for killing fish, he accuses him of doing it deliberately and she storms off. Henry visits Annie to claim right of way over their land. He says the main entrance to Inglebrook is on a corner, so wants to use a safer entrance at the bottom of a lower meadow, which goes over Emmerdale land, but he says it is blocked by farming machinery and wants the machinery moved. She sends him packing but he is adamant it is not over, and says the law is on his side. Jack visits The Woolpack and sees Marian talking to her friend, Alec, and joins them but they leave.
- Annie - Sheila Mercier
- Jack - Andrew Burt
- Peggy - Jo Kendall
- Joe - Frazer Hines
- Matt - Frederick Pyne
- Sam - Toke Townley
- Marian - Gail Harrison
- Wilks - Arthur Pentelow
- Amos - Ronald Magill
- Beckindale village - see notes
- The Woolpack - Exterior, public/snug
- St. Mary's Church - Grounds
- Inglebrook House - Grounds
- Emmerdale Farm - Farmhouse living room/kitchen and Peggy and Matt's bedroom, garden, yard, cowshed, milking shed, farmland
- Fields around Emmerdale Farm and Inglebrook House
- A road leading to Beckindale village from Emmerdale Farm
- David Goddard began his stint as the programme's first producer, relinquishing the role with Episode 26 on 16th January 1973
- Due to the village of Beckindale/Emmerdale being a mixture of three different real-life locations over its history, the village of Beckindale witnessed here differs largely to the present day Emmerdale version. As a result, it's difficult to note what various roads and streets would be in comparison to the present day village, so to avoid speculation and stick to facts, 'Beckindale village' will be used for areas which haven't been matched to a present-day location.
- Characters were credited by using only either their first name or surname, a style that would feature until the late days of the Emmerdale Farm era. Credits were also ordered specifically and did not reflect the order of on-screen appearance as in present episodes.
- The episode theme plays softly in the background as Jacob Sugden's funeral takes place and Jack Sugden watches from a distance.
- The Reverend conducting Jacob's funeral is uncredited despite dialogue. It's unknown whether this is an early incarnation of Reverend Ruskin.
- This episode was repeated on G Plus on 1st January 2000.
- TV Times synopsis: "In the beginning is the end . . . Old Jacob Sugden, owner of Emmerdale Farm in Yorkshire has died leaving his wife Annie, his old father Sam, her daughter Peggy and younger son Joe. Jack, the elder son, left home eight years ago and little has been heard of him since.
The family set off in Jacob's funeral procession, passing by The Woolpack, the Beckindale village pub. And, from there, they are watched by a pair of eyes . . .
Jack the "prodigal son" has returned to find he has inherited the farm. Annie hopes only that he will run it properly. Joe sees him as an interloper. And big sister Peggy, now married to Matt who works on the farm, is seething that the farm hasn't been left to her."
- Viewing Figures: First UK broadcast: 2,203,000 (chart placing unknown).
- This episode was included on the following commercial releases:
Peggy Skilbeck: (upon seeing Marian Wilks on horseback passing by) "Matt, who's she?" (The first line spoken in the series)
Marian Wilks: "If this is your home, why can't you get in? I was watching you."
Jack Sugden: "Prodigals aren't usually trusted with keys, even if they have time to collect one before going out to prodigalize."
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