|This article is written
from the Real World
point of view.
It was originally conceived and broadcast as a daytime programme in an afternoon slot, becoming an early evening programme in 1978 in most ITV regions. Until Christmas 1988, Emmerdale took seasonal breaks; since then it has been broadcast year-round.
The idea for Emmerdale Farm was pitched by Kevin Laffan to Granada in 1972. The idea was to have the show surround the Sugden family, who resided and normally worked on Emmerdale Farm. The village of Beckindale (and the show's title) was originally based off the village Ammerdale, but Granada disallowed the show to be named after a real place so Laffan changed the name slightly. The show was filmed in real villages, with interior scenes being filmed on sets in studios in Leeds. David Goddard was brought on as series producer and Peter Holmans was brought on as executive, whilst Kevin wrote the first twelve episodes of the series.
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.
The Miffield Estate was the biggest employer in the village of Beckindale – situated 63 kilometres from Bradford and 84 kilometres 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 Joshua Sugden was killed sacrificing his life for the Earl's son in the Crimean War.
Joshua'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 for his family. In 1945 he married Annie Pearson – daughter of farm labourer Sam Pearson. Margaret Sugden died in 1963 and Joseph Sugden died in 1964.
Jacob had run the farm into the ground as he had drunk away most of the profits, leaving it in a sorry state, and Jacob soon fell ill with pneumonia. The farm was badly maintained and the future of the farm looked bleak at the time of Jacob's death on 10th October 1972.
The 1970s kicked off in October 1972 when the funeral of Jacob Sugden took place. After so many years away from the village writing is own book Jack Sugden, the son of Annie, came back to the farm to find out that his dad had left him the farm in the Will. In the late 70s the farm was run along with Annie, Sam, Joe, Matt and Peggy.
In 1973, Emmerdale Farm saw its first murder when Jim Latimer killed Sharon Crossthwaite after strangling her down at the old mill house. However, Trash the tramp was put in the frame so when he tried escaping from the police out of one of the mill windows he fell, breaking his back and neck bone and killing himself. Jack planed a funeral for him but only him and Trash's daughter turned up to the service. We saw the first Emmerdale wedding when Frank Blakey and Janie Harker married. We also saw the first birth in the village when Peggy gave birth to twins to Matt and called them Sally and Samuel.