The Sugdens are the longest-running family in Emmerdale. They appeared since the first-ever episode in 1972 and played a main role in the programme since then.

Currently only Jack's widow Diane, his daughter Victoria and grandchildren Sarah and Harry are left in the village along with Robert's ex-husband Aaron Dingle.


During the 1850s, the Miffield estate was the biggest employer in the village of Beckindale, Emmerdale Farm was on the edge of the village and during the Crimean War was raging. During the war, Joshua Sugden sacrificed his life to save Lord Miffield's son from death. Lord Miffield, out of gratitude for the great sacrifice, gifted the Sugdens Emmerdale Farm.

Josh Sugden's grandson was Joseph Sugden, who with his wife Margaret had a son, whom they called Jacob. Jacob married the daughter of farmer, Sam Pearson, called Annie Pearson in 1946 and one year later in 1947, Annie gives birth to a son who they named John Sugden but who was called Jack for short. In 1948, Annie gave birth to a baby girl who went onto to be called Peggy, a year later 1949 Jacob got another son who they named Joseph and the family all lived and worked together at Emmerdale Farm in the farmhouse.

In 1964, when Jack was around the age of eighteen, he had a very heated argument with his father, Jacob. Jack wanted to get away from Beckindale and explore the outside world, Jack then left Beckindale for London, leaving the rest of the family to cope alone. Things became tough at Emmerdale, due to Jacob's continuing visits to The Woolpack drowning the hard money that the family had worked so hard for.

After Jack left, Jacob visited the Woolpack more regularly where he would often become drunk, Jack kept in contact with his family through letters and Peggy later married an orphaned farmer, Matt Skilbeck in 1968 who also worked very hard at the farm. Jacob battled his addiction to alcohol for years but he was fighting a losing battle, as the farm was losing a lot of its profits due to Jacob using a lot of money on alcohol.



In 1972, Jacob lost the battle with alcohol leading to his death, leaving the farm in need of money. His son Jack returned but didn't attend the funeral, he looked over the farm and had a drink in the Woolpack whilst waiting for the family to return to the farm. Peggy greeted Jack with hostility when it was discovered that Jacob had left Jack everything, Annie was also slightly bitter with Jack but allowed him to stay on at the farm. However, Annie and Jack later formed a closer relationship.

The family were also curious about Jack's time in London and the amount of money he had, they eventually discovered that Jack had written a novel which had proved successful. At the same time, Jack and Joe were both competing for the affections of Marian Wilks, Annie accused Marian of playing the two off against each other and eventually Jack formed a relationship with her, much to the annoyance of Marian's father, Henry Wilks who had had run-ins with Jack in the past. However Henry did believe that Joe was the right man for Marian and after Joe was involved in a car crash, Marian tried to encourage Joe to learn more and study for exams, however Joe saw it as an opportunity to prove that he could be smarter than Jack but he eventually gave up on this and chased after Janie Harker, Ruth Merrick's younger sister.

While Jack and Marian had a relationship, Tom Merrick was employed at Emmerdale Farm, Tom, however, had discovered that Jack was the father of his supposed son John Jackie Merrick. Tom had looked closely at photos of Jack and Jackie, they resembled each other as well as the fact that Ruth had named him John after Jack. When Matt complained that Merrick wasn't working very well, Jack confronted Tom who threatened to tell Marian of his secret. Jack sacked Merrick anyway and Tom did tell Marian but they stayed together and married.

With money being down, the family gathered together to discuss the future of the farm, they suggested selling the family farm which would result in the family going its separate ways. Annie told Jack that if he wasn't willing to run the farm then they would sell up, Annie would become a housekeeper and rent a cottage, Matt and Peggy would go to the city and Grandad Sam would go to a senior citizen's home. Jack refused to allow this to happen and stated he would run the farm.

However, Peggy who had fallen pregnant was getting annoyed with Jack's attitude as a manager of the farm, Peggy had claimed that Jack had changed for the worse and insisted on her and Matt leaving to work in the city so they could live in their own home. Matt wanted to stay working on at the farm but Peggy was insistent.

Jack eventually bought an old mill after battling with Henry Wilks over the land and moved into it, he meanwhile divided the farm between himself, Annie, Joe, Peggy and Grandad. Grandad, however, didn't want the responsibility and sold his share to Henry Wilks for £500. Peggy was now satisfied and agreed to stay on at Emmerdale Farm.

In early 1973, Amos Brearly feared that the brewery wanted a husband and wife team to run the pub together, in fear, Amos cycled over to the farm and proposed to his close friend, Annie Sugden. Annie was amused but turned Amos' offer down. Later in the year, Peggy gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Matt and Peggy named the babies Sam and Sally Skilbeck, they also converted a barn on the farm into a small cottage for them to live in near the family. However a huge tragedy was to strike the Sugden family in July, just three months after the twins were born, Peggy unexpectedly suffered a brain haemorrhage and died. The family were devastated and Matt sent the twins to live with his Aunt Beattie and her husband so that they could give the twins full-time care as Matt had to work on the farm. Peggy was buried next to her father, Jacob.

In early 1974, Jack and Marian Sugden decided to leave Beckindale, to write his second novel in Italy. Devastation would later occur for Matt again when the twins died along with his aunt when her car collided with a train. Joe fell in love with Christine Sharp and married her, Christine started to work at the farm but the hard life as farming stressed her out and she left Joe after just five weeks. Jack later came back in 1976, after suffering from writer's block, he came to visit Annie and the family after his divorce from Marian. After getting the boost he needed, he left for Italy to finish off his second novel.

In 1976, Joe formed a relationship with Kathy Gimbel, a local farm girl who like Joe had recently split from her spouse however their relationship got too complicated and they split up. Later on, Joe's estranged wife, Christine Sugden, returned and wanted to give their marriage another go but Joe insisted on having a divorce. Christine's dad, Robert Sharp wanted Christine to get half of Emmerdale Farm in the divorce settlement but Henry Wilks suggested to Joe that if Sharp claimed half of the farm then Joe could claim half of his dairy farm. With this in mind, Sharp did not claim any of the farm and the divorce went through. Meanwhile, Grandad Sam proposed to his old flame Nellie Ratcliffe who turned him down, claiming they were too old to marry. Sam later thought to keep Nellie in her cottage when NY estates tried to force her out. Joe and Kathy reconciled later in 1977 and moved into 3, Demdyke Row but Kathy's dad committed suicide after his wife and kids left him. Kathy felt guilty and depressed resulting in her leaving Joe again. Matt meanwhile, had found love again in the form of Dolly Acaster in 1977, they eventually made plans to marry and did so in June 1978. Dolly later fell pregnant but miscarried in early 1980.


In February 1980, Jack Sugden returned to Beckindale after finishing his novel in Italy, when Jack returned, he became serious about farming and wanted to run the farm, but Joe had also considered himself to be the manager of the farm and joined NY estates as assistant manager of Home Farm. This made Annie and Sam quite sad at Joe's departure from the farm. Soon after Jack's return, his old flame, Pat Merrick returned to Beckindale with her son Jackie and daughter Sandie after she left her controlling husband Tom for good.

Pat and Jack renewed their relationship and she and the Merricks moved into the farmhouse. In 1982, Pat and Jack married; the Sugden family was growing as finances for the family were improving. Joe left for France for a two-year period between 19841986, visiting every now and again. As for the Skilbeck branch of the family, Dolly gave birth to Samuel Skilbeck in December 1982. The following year, Sandie gave birth to a daughter but she gave it up for adoption in 1984 with the support from her gran, Annie and step-dad, Jack.

In 1986, Pat gave birth to Jack's second son with her; they named him Robert, however, 4 months after, Pat died in a car crash. The 1980s saw several tragedies for the Sugden family, with the deaths of Sam Pearson in 1984, Pat in 1986 and Jackie in 1989. In 1988, Jackie married Kathy Bates who even after his death remained close to the Sugdens. The Hughes family moved into the farmhouse in 1989 after Kate Hughes and her children Rachel and Mark Hughes moved into Beckindale in 1988.

In November 1989, Emmerdale Farm became Emmerdale. The Tate family arrived at Home Farm at the same time.


The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the departures of Sandie Merrick, Matt Skilbeck, Dolly Skilbeck, Samuel Skilbeck and Kate Sugden. These departures took place between 19891991.

The Sugdens were also supplanted by the Tates after 17 years 1972–1989 of being centre stage. The Beckindale air disaster, however, threw the family back into the limelight when Jack became the hero of the hour but it also killed Joe's stepson, Mark and Annie's husband of 5 weeks; Leonard was killed in the disaster.

It also lead to some more departures throughout 19941995.

Joe Sugden pondered on the fanciful idea that the Sugden family had been cursed as he totted up the number of deaths in the family in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Shortly afterwards, he was killed in a car crash.

By 1997 the number of Sugdens had decreased whereas a decade earlier. There was not a family in the village that were not related either by step-family, blood or marriage to the Sugdens. In 1994 Jack and Sarah married and had a child; Victoria Anne Sugden and went on to adopt Andy Hopwood. That same year Rachel Hughes went on to marry Chris Tate who was previously married to Kathy Merrick who was also married to Rachel's step-cousin; Jackie Merrick.

By the late 90s farming was no longer the issue of the show so the Sugdens were pushed further to the back burner while other families took over. The 1990s ended on an unhappy note when Jack's step-niece Rachel was murdered by her lover Graham Clark as the 2000s would start on an unhappy note as well.


In 2000, Jack and Sarah's marriage had hit the rocks, the family was short of money and the farm was failing. At this time Sarah had fallen in love with her lodger, Richie Carter, together they began an affair behind Jack's back. When Jack discovered he threw Sarah out of the house, Sarah later tried to get back with Jack. The effects of the separation had got to Andy, who saw the farm failing. Andy realised that he could burn down a barn, pretend it was an accident and then the family could claim it on the insurance. However, when Andy set the barn a light, he didn't realise that Sarah was meeting Richie to talk. The barn burned, Richie made it out and Jack tried to save Sarah but he couldn't and Sarah was burned alive. Andy tried to put the experience behind him and formed a relationship with fellow student Katie Addyman.

November 2003 saw the arrival of Andy's half-brother; Daz Eden and in 2005 Andy's lover Debbie Dingle gave birth to his daughter; Sarah Sugden Jr., Robert left that same year and Katie came back in 2006 to reconcile with Andy. In September 2004 Jack married Diane Blackstock.

In 2007 Andy started an affair with Jo Stiles which Katie later discovered, Andy later chose to be with Jo and divorced Katie. Around the same time, Jack and Diane began to become distant due to Billy Hopwood returning to try to build a relationship with his sons. Jack resented Hopwood trying to interfere with his family when he tried to block Jack and Diane's application to adopt Daz. Jack and Andy doubted Hopwood had changed but Daz gave him a chance, Hopwood even managed to save Victoria's life when his lorry crashed into a lake with her inside. In all this time Diane showed sympathy for Billy and helped him rebuild his life, their feelings escalated and Billy wanted to start a relationship with her, Diane resisted but admitted she had feelings for him. Billy asked Diane to choose but she couldn't and fled to Brighton. Billy followed her thereby stealing a car but he soon got arrested, after he was released, Billy and Diane discussed their feelings which were heard by Victoria who told Jack.

Jack beat Billy to the ground, Jack and the rest of the family shunned Diane and blamed her for what had happened to the family. However Billy later revealed to Victoria that Jack had killed her mother Sarah, Victoria investigated further and checked with her mum's ex-lover Richie Carter who confirmed the story. In a rage, Victoria went back to Annie's Cottage and covered the furniture in petrol. Jack and Andy later returned and Victoria demanded the truth, Andy eventually admitted that he caused the barn fire that killed Sarah although he didn't mean it. Victoria tripped down the stairs and wounded her head, Jack went to the bathroom to wet a flannel, however, this triggered an explosion which caused the cottage to go on fire. Andy and Victoria were trapped in her bedroom however Andy managed to get her out, Jack collapsed in the bathroom but Hopwood broke in and got Jack out.

Jack later decided to sell the cottage to a new couple in early 2008, with him and Victoria moving into Butler's Farm with Andy, Jo and Sarah. Jack was amused at Victoria's behaviour around the young new farmhand and continued to help Jo out at the farm when Andy was sent to prison. Jack was still hesitant to repair his marriage as he felt betrayed but was more pleasant with Diane. Jack later received word from Spain that Annie was very ill and he departed in late February to care for her, entrusting Diane with the care of Victoria and the rest of the family. Jack stayed there all year and invited the family over to stay for Christmas and intended to reconcile with Diane, however, flights were unavailable.

Katie later agreed to be a surrogate for Grayson and Perdita Hyde-Sinclair, the treatment was successful and she fell pregnant with Grayson's baby, as a result, she moved in with them, however, Perdy left Grayson for Matthew and Katie was left with Grayson. They both eventually started an affair and planned to keep the baby for themselves, Grayson eventually proposed to Katie who destroyed evidence incriminating Grayson for fraud. Eventually, Katie was shocked to learn that Grayson had slept with Paul when he was married to Perdy but Katie believed that Perdy was lying. However Katie discovered it was true and was hurt by Grayson's dishonesty, she eventually gave her baby to Perdy so Grayson wouldn't be able to go near the baby. Grayson was arrested after trying to shoot Katie and life continued.

In early 2009, Andy Sugden decided that he wanted to Sell Butlers Farm as he couldn't cope, his stepmother Diane urged him to rethink the idea, however, Andy was adamant on the idea. Diane and Andy later informed Victoria and Daz, Victoria was furious and told Andy that their dad Jack would fight to keep the farm if he were there, Andy said that if Jack cared so much about the farm than he would be there. Victoria ran off, upset and angry with Andy, Daz told her that she should go to see Jack in Spain as Diane wouldn't be able to stop her.

A phone call later came in at the Woolpack, it was from Spain. Jack had suffered a heart attack and had died in hospital that afternoon. When Victoria and Daz returned to the Woolpack, Diane broke the news of Jack's death, both were heartbroken at the loss of Jack and broke down in tears. The next day, Diane tried to keep busy by cleaning the Woolpack, she told Val that Andy isolated himself as it was his own way of coping with the grief. Meanwhile, at Butler's Farm, Andy walked around the farm quietly but was offered condolences from Mick who stated that he was sorry about Jack as he was an old friend of his. He reminisced about when Jack returned from Italy and how Jack knew the land better than anyone, Mick reassured Andy that the farm was safe in his hands.

The news quickly spread around the village, the Dingles were shocked at the news and wanted Andy to break the news to Sarah of Jack's passing. Katie later went to the farm and told Andy that he needed to arrange the funeral, Andy was still angry and asked her to leave. Katie returned to the Woolpack and informed Diane that Andy was not helping, Diane then packed and left for Spain asking Daz to look after Victoria. Diane also asked Val and Eric Pollard to deal with the funeral arrangements. Val ordered Andy to step up and be the person who holds the family together during a difficult time. Diane later returned with her mother-in-law Annie with husband Jack's body.


From 2009 to 2014, the Sugden family went into a period of decline following Jack's death and Daz's exit, and a lack of storylines for Diane, Andy and Victoria but during 2014 and 2015 the Sugden's were brought back to the front of the show, featuring in many new exciting storylines.

In October 2014 Robert Sugden returned to the village as part of the wealthy White family who moved into Home Farm. Upon his return, Andy punched Robert reigniting their feud. Later on, Robert began an affair with Aaron Livesy which he did his best to hide, as he was desperate to cling onto the money of the White family which he would gain by marrying Chrissie White. Also during this time Katie and Andy remarried on Christmas Day, however, their happy marriage did not last long. Katie discovered that Robert was having an affair but no one believed her, determined to discover the truth she became more obsessed, then on Robert and Chrissie's wedding day she caught Robert and Aaron kissing and took a photo of it, but Robert trapped her into a room and refused to let her leave. As the argument became worse Robert pushed Katie and the floors gave way, causing Katie to fall to her death. Robert managed to cover up his role in her death for the time being. Andy, Victoria and Diane were all distraught at Katie's death though and Andy tried to commit suicide, but Robert managed to talk him out of it with Aaron's help.

Meanwhile, Victoria and Adam Barton get engaged to each other but unknown to her, Adam had a one-night-stand with Vanessa Woodfield. When the truth came out Victoria argued with Adam and drove off in her car but accidentally ran down Ashley Thomas. he later collapsed and was comatised. Victoria could not deal with her guilt and handed herself in to the police, and she was arrested. She was later released and was delighted to hear that Ashley had survived. Adam and Victoria rekindled their relationship and decided to run away and get married, with the help of Aaron. Robert and Andy were furious to discover this, but Adam and Victoria left before they could stop them.

When Chrissie eventually found out about Robert's affair with Aaron, she set fire to his car which caused the helicopter crash which killed Robert's step-aunt Val Pollard and two other people, however, Robert comforted Chrissie as she struggled with her guilt. Diane and Victoria both mourned the death of Val. Andy later on in the year realised that Robert was responsible for Katie's death but no one believed him thanks to Robert's impressive lying skills. Andy then organised for Ross Barton to shoot Robert, but Robert survived.

In November 2015 Diane was stabbed by Chas Dingle, who thought she was an intruder, Diane survived and the doctors also found cancer, but thanks to it being caught early they removed it easily. Diane later thanked Chas because by stabbing her she had saved her life.

In January 2016, Robert discovers Aaron's darkest secret; he was repeatedly raped by his father Gordon Livesy in his childhood. Gordon denied it but Robert believed Aaron. In March 2016, Andy started a fling with Chrissie. In April 2016, after becoming close when Aaron went through his ordeal, Aaron and Robert reunited and agreed to restart their relationship after Gordon was sent to prison. Meanwhile, Diane sells her share in The Woolpack to Charity Dingle and purchases her half of the local B&B, The Grange.

In August 2016, after Andy was framed for trying to shoot Lawrence White, Robert tried to clear his name after helping him go on the run. Robert asked Rebecca White, Chrissie's sister, to help him find evidence. Her arrival in the village leads Robert to realize he was ready for a commitment to Aaron and he planned to propose but was not able to once he found out Aaron has kidnapped Lachlan White after threatening to accuse Robert of sexual assault. Robert eventually opened up about his sexuality, being bisexual, and proposed to Aaron in the car holding Lachlan. This leads them to have to dodge the crash that had happened and drive off a cliff into a lake. Robert saved Aaron who was stuck in the car but went back in for Lachlan who had already escaped. Robert and Aaron had a long conversation about their future and Aaron proposed to Robert and the couple become engaged.

Robert and Aaron got married in early 2017 as Aaron was set to go to prison for GBH. However, their happiness was short-lived as Robert cheated on Aaron with Rebecca which later would result in the birth of Robert's son Sebastian White. Victoria was horrified when Adam confessed to the murder of Emma Barton, not realising Adam was protecting his mother Moira Dingle. She tried to convince him to return to the village but failed, and was disappointed to see him depart in January 2018 after a last goodbye. In early 2018 Aaron and Robert reconciled and then legally married in October. However, the pair were left heartbroken when Seb left the village with Rebecca and her boyfriend in early November.

In late April 2019 Victoria was raped by Lee Posner and eventually realises she has fallen pregnant. Despite continuous harassment from Lee and his mother and with the fear that Lee could gain custody of her baby Victoria decided to keep it. After Lee made a comment towards Victora and continued to taunt them, Robert attacked him and he ended up in a coma. In October 2019, Robert was informed that Lee had died from his injuries and pleaded guilty to murder in court and was sentenced to life in prison. 


In January 2020, Victoria gave birth to a baby son, whom she named Harry. She also reverted hers and Harry's name back to Sugden after being Victoria Barton for 5 years. 

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