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Ever since the first episode, there have been thousands of characters who have appeared on the show in a minor, guest or recurring role. They still have a role on the show today, whether it be a member of the emergency services, a friend of a regular character or someone who only passes by the village briefly.

The first

See also: 1972 minor characters

The first ever minor character was Alec Saunders (played by Alan Tucker), who appeared in Episode 1 and was never seen again. The first recurring character was the role of Barney, a postman who was regularly seen drinking in The Woolpack. Played by George Malpas, Barney appeared intermittently between 1972 and 1978. The first unnamed character and first medical professional was a Nurse in 1972.

Most guest roles

An actor who has played the most number of minor characters is actress Maeve Larkin. Larkin has appeared in Emmerdale in 8 roles:

Police

Police play a pivotal role in the show, as many of the characters find themselves in trouble, or in harm's way. And so it is up to the police to come to the village and sort things out. A great number of officers, detectives, sergeants and inspectors have returned to Emmerdale time and time again, with some villagers even getting to know their names, and vice versa. Other characters, such as Abi Peterson and Nancy Ryan are not just used for their job but are active players in storylines.

PC Mike Swirling, who has appeared sporadically since 2004, is one of the longest running minor characters and with well over a hundred appearances to date. The recurring officer with the most appearances is Ian MacArthur, who appeared in 182 episodes between 1980 and 1993.

Some of the officers who have appeared multiple times include:

Medical professionals

Doctors, nurses, paramedics and GPs are all typical character types that return to care for regular characters. Dr Cavanagh was a minor character that was promoted to a regular in 2018. Doctor Jermaine Bailey was another character who appeared for a few months before also being promoted to a regular character for the whole of 2016 before he left.

Fire services

Firefighters are also vital in the 'minor character' category and show up whenever there's a fire. They are less used than the police or medical characters and so there is less chance of returning characters. Recurring and minor characters who happen to be firefighters include Jez Hudson, an unnamed fire officer (played by Phil Croft) and Ted Barker.

Romantic interests

Some minor characters arrive in the form of a romantic partner of an already established character. Sometimes these can transform into fully-fledged regular characters too, but others act as just a plot device. Good examples of these characters introduced as love interests include:

Family

See also: Families

Some recurring characters happen to be related to regular characters, which is a good excuse for sporadic visits.


The Dingles

See also: Dingle family

The Dingle family are one of the most popular, and probably biggest, families on Emmerdale. Many members of the family have appeared as main characters, with numerous still in it. However, the show has always found a way to explore the extended family appearing in minor, guest or recurring roles. The Dingles who have appeared in a smaller capacity are:

Pets

Name Duration Animal Owner(s) Tenure
Tootsie 2002-present Dog Edna Birch & Harriet Finch 17 years
Alfie 2002-2017 Dog The Dingles 15 years
Charlie 1994-2007 Dog Betty Eagleton 13 years
Daisy 2003-2015 Dog Marlon Dingle 12 years
Hamish 2004-2015 Pony Belle Dingle 11 years
Cheryl 2012-present Dog Val & Eric Pollard 7 years
Gloria ????-2019 Pig Dingle family ? years
Steve (deceased) 2016-present Parrot Lydia Hart 3 years
Dog 2014-2017 Dog The Whites 3 years
Tip 2017-present Dog Jai Sharma 2 years
Batley 2000-2002 Dog Edna Birch 2 years
Valentine 1994-1996 Horse Kim Tate 2 years
Bess 1973-1975 Dog Sam Pearson & Annie Sugden 2 years
Monty 2018-present Dog Zak Dingle 1 year
Clyde 2009-2010 Dog Aaron Livesy 1 year
Damon 2004-2005 Dog Sadie King 1 year
Dark Star 1992-1993 Horse Kim Tate 1 year
Snip 1980-1981 Dog Matt Skilbeck 1 year
Spamela Hamderson 2019-present Piglet Dingle family 9 months
Freya 2019-present Horse Kim Tate 6 months
Tally 2019-present Horse Kim Tate 6 months
Bundle 1984 Dog Caroline Bates 4 months
Blake 2019-present Pony Kim Tate 2 months
Cossack 2006 Horse Sadie King 1 month
Priscilla 1998 Pig Farmer Matthews 1 month
Sampson 1993 Horse Seth Armstrong 1 month
Boomerang 1992 Pigeon Archie Brooks 1 month
Champion 1990 Horse Alan Turner 1 month

Others

Name Duration Role
Barney 1972-1978 Postman
Jim Latimer 1973-1991 Criminal
Walter 1974-1985 Woolpack customer
Hunter Bell 1974-1987 Villager
Ernie Shuttleworth 1975-1999 Pub landlord
Auctioneer 1978-1985 Auctioneer
Doreen Shuttleworth 1984-1991 Pub landlady
Auctioneer 1995-2018 Auctioneer
Coroner 1997-2003 Coroner
Noel Young 1999-2005 Solicitor
Judge 1999-2017 Judge
George Postlethwaite 2000-2010 Bishop
John McNally 2004-2009 Journalist
Dean Morris 2004-2009 Foreman
Aubrey Bedford 2004-2015 Estate agent
Reporter 2006-2019 Television news reporter
Isaac Nuttall 2010-2019 Ex-boyfriend

Longest runnning minor characters

See also: List of longest running characters

# Name First Appearance Most recent appearance Time between first and last appearance
1 Ernie Shuttleworth Peter Schofield11th March 1975 26th August 1999 24 years, 5 months
2 Auctioneer Robin Bowerman 18th May 1995 10th October 2018 23 years, 5 months
3 Judge Anthony Schaeffer 20th January 1999 24th October 2019 20 years, 9 months
4 Jim Latimer Dennis Blanch22nd January 1973 10th December 1991 18 years, 11 months
5 PC Mike Swirling Andy Moore 2nd April 2004 4th December 2019 15 years, 8 months
6 Sgt. Ian MacArthur Martin Dale 9th December 1980 16th December 1993 13 years
6 Walter Al Dixon11th December 1972 19th December 1985 13 years
8 Hunter Bell Frederick Bennett 2nd December 1974 27th August 1987 12 years, 8 months
9 Liz MacDonald Elizabeth Mickery 22nd November 1977 3rd May 1990 12 years, 6 months
10 Reporter Duncan Wood 21st December 2006 14th May 2019 12 years, 5 months
10 Gordon Livesy Gary Mavers2nd December 2003 11th May 2016 12 years, 5 months

List of prolific minor characters

See also: List of appearances

# Character Number of appearances First appearance Last appearance
1 Sergeant Ian MacArthur 179 1980 1993
2 PC Mike Swirling 149 2004 2019
3 Thomas King 101 2004 2013
4 Bishop George Postlethwaite 82 2000 2010
5 John McNally 68 2004 2009
6 Libby Charles 67 2005 2005
7 Anya King 63 2004 2012
7 Walter 63 1972 1985
9 Charlie Haynes 60 2010 2010
10 Eddie Hope 57 2003 2007
11 John Tuplin 54 1981 1984
12 Al Chapman 51 2019 2019
12 Gordon Livesy 49 2003 2016
14 PC Denzel Calburn 45 2003 2005
15 Mark Dingle 43 2004 2007
16 Matthew Dingle 42 2004 2007
16 Nellie Ratcliffe 42 1978 1981
18 Nicky Pritchard 40 2011 2011
18 Charles Vaughan 40 2006 2009
18 DI Tom Keysell 40 2003 2005
18 Ernie Shuttleworth 40 1975 1999
18 Liz MacDonald 40 1977 1990
23 DI Vikesh Dasari 39 2006 2007
24 Glynis Hardy 38 2001 2005
25 Effie Harrison 37 2005 2005
26 Jerry Walsh 36 2010 2011
26 DI Derek Spalding 36 1998 1999
28 Kasim Sabet 35 2016 2017
28 Sandra Briggs 35 2005 2006
30 DS Benton 34 2017 2018
30 DS Andrew Flanagan 34 2013 2018
30 DS Karen Williams 34 2006 2009
30 Sharon Lambert 34 2007 2008
30 Jon Dingle 34 2004 2007
30 Luke Dingle 34 2004 2007
30 Peg Dingle 34 2002 2002
30 Daniel Hawkins 34 1980 1983
38 Liam Hammond 33 1999 1999
38 Steve Marshal 33 1992 1993
40 Stephen Butler 32 2003 2003
41 Vinny 31 2019 2019
41 Noreen Bell 31 2005 2006
41 Rachel Whatmore 31 2003 2005
41 Barry Clegg 31 1997 1998
45 Michael Conway 30 2009 2009
45 Clifford Longthorn 30 1980 1986
47 PC James Pierce 29 2010 2019
47 DS Sanders 29 2018 2019
47 Misty Allbright 29 2018 2018
47 Dean Morris 29 2004 2009
47 Malcolm Bates 29 1984 1991
47 Helen Sutcliffe 29 1988 1988
53 Wendy Posner 28 2019 2019
53 Tess Harris 28 2015 2016
53 Dr. Josephine Abbott 28 2006 2013
53 Tamsin Charles 28 2005 2005
53 Clare Sutcliffe 28 1988 1989
53 Martin Gimbel 28 1975 1976
59 DS Jason Wise 27 2016 2019
59 DI Mark Bails 27 2014 2018
59 Lord Alex Oakwell 27 1997 1998
59 Leonard Kempinski 27 1992 1994
59 Penny Golightly 27 1973 1973
64 DC Wilson 26 2017 2018
64 Dr. Alex Mason 26 2017 2018
64 DC Laura Prior 26 2010 2011
64 John Wylie 26 1999 2000
64 Jed Outhwaite 26 1998 1998
64 Jim Gimbel 26 1974 1975
70 Dan 25 1990 1992
70 Christopher Meadows 25 1981 1988
72 Simon McManus 24 2016 2018
72 Craig Briggs 24 2004 2006
72 Barbara Kirk 24 1998 2002
72 Jo Steadman 24 1997 1997
72 Josh Lewis 24 1993 1994
72 Doreen Shuttleworth 24 1984 1991
72 Lucy Stubbs 24 1977 1977
79 Meg Armstrong 23 1979 1986
79 Jessie Renfrew 23 1978 1983
81 Tony Marchant 22 1987 1987
81 Graham Lodsworth 22 1986 1987
81 Ted Edwards 22 1977 1980
81 Barney 22 1972 1978
81 Robert Sharp 22 1974 1976
81 Clare Scott 22 1973 1973
87 Josh Crowther 21 2017 2017
87 Aubrey Bedford 21 2004 2015
87 Charlotte Beecham 21 2007 2015
87 DS Shields 21 2013 2013
87 Helen Ackroyd 21 1995 1998
87 Daniel Weir 21 1995 1995
87 Peggy Longthorn 21 1980 1986
87 Ben Dowton 21 1973 1984
87 Beattie Dowton 21 1973 1975
96 Dee Dee 20 2017 2019
96 Lee Posner 20 2019 2019
96 DS Hart 20 2015 2018
96 Justin Gallagher 20 2010 2012
96 Abi Peterson 20 2010 2010
96 Freddie Yorke 20 2007 2008
96 Doug Hamilton 20 1997 1997
96 Ted Sharp 20 1989 1989
96 Bob Jerome 20 1979 1981

See also

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