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.
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
- Sian Harper between March and April 2005.
- An unnamed physiotherapist in September 2008.
- Dr. Eve Solomon in April 2010.
- An unnamed solicitor in October 2012.
- An insurance rep in October 2014.
- Dr Parsons in December 2015.
- An unnamed doctor in February 2016.
- Suzie in October 2018.
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:
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.
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.
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:
See also: Families
Some recurring characters happen to be related to regular characters, which is a good excuse for sporadic visits.
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:
|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|
|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|
|Monty||2018-present||Dog||Zak Dingle||9 months|
|Spamela Hamderson||2019-present||Piglet||Dingle family||4 months|
|Bundle||1984||Dog||Caroline Bates||4 months|
|Freya||2019-present||Horse||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|
|Ernie Shuttleworth||1975-1999||Pub landlord|
|Doreen Shuttleworth||1984-1991||Pub landlady|
|Aubrey Bedford||2004-2015||Estate agent|
|Reporter||2006-2019||Television news reporter|
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 Schofield •||11th March 1975||26th August 1999||24 years, 5 months|
|2||Auctioneer||Robin Bowerman||18th May 1995||10th October 2018||23 years, 5 months|
|3||Jim Latimer||Dennis Blanch •||22nd January 1973||10th December 1991||18 years, 11 months|
|4||Judge||Anthony Schaeffer||20th January 1999||12th January 2017||18 years|
|5||PC Mike Swirling||Andy Moore||2nd April 2004||15th August 2019||15 years, 4 months|
|6||Sgt. Ian MacArthur||Martin Dale||9th December 1980||16th December 1993||13 years|
|7||Hunter Bell||Frederick Bennett||2nd December 1974||27th August 1987||12 years, 8 months|
|8||Liz MacDonald||Elizabeth Mickery||22nd November 1977||3rd May 1990||12 years, 6 months|
|9||Reporter||Duncan Wood||21st December 2006||14th May 2019||12 years, 5 months|
|9||Gordon Livesy||Gary Mavers •||2nd 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||181||1980||1993|
|2||PC Mike Swirling||146||2004||2019|
|4||Bishop George Postlethwaite||80||2000||2010|
|13||PC Denzel Calburn||45||2003||2005|
|17||DI Tom Keysell||40||2003||2005|
|22||DI Vikesh Dasari||39||2006||2007|
|27||DS Andrew Flanagan||34||2013||2018|
|27||DS Karen Williams||34||2006||2009|
|48||PC James Pierce||28||2010||2019|
|48||Dr. Josephine Abbott||28||2006||2013|
|54||DI Mark Bails||27||2014||2018|
|54||Lord Alex Oakwell||27||1997||1998|
|58||Dr. Alex Mason||26||2017||2018|
|58||DC Laura Prior||26||2010||2011|
|58||DI Derek Spalding||26||1998||1999|
|74||DS Jason Wise||23||2016||2019|