Extramarital dalliances, paternity pickles, tearful farewells, and whodunit mysteries — the stuff of soap opera legend. And after 47 years, Emmerdale has had it all. What follows is but a small curated sampling of the program’s best-remembered episodes, moments, and storylines.
Emmerdale – The Sugden Family And Their Curse
After tallying up the names of family members claimed by the Grim Reaper, Joe Sugden began to put stock in the claim that his ancestors had been cursed. Among the dead were his father Jacob, sister Peggy, her two children (Sam and Sally), and two children whom Joe’s wife Dolly was unable to carry to term.
Not even in-laws were safe. Pat Merrick — who wed elder Sugden brother Jack — met her end in a particularly grisly car accident and Jack’s second wife, Sarah Connolly, was burned to death in a fire set by their foster son, Andy.
And as for Joe’s nephew, Jackie (the son of Pat and Jack), he accidentally shot himself while hunting a fox and, irony of ironies, listening to the song “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”
One of the biggest blights in the village’s history was the rape and strangulation murder of teenager Sharon Crossthwaite. By the time Jim Latimer was caught by the police and brought to justice, innocent suspect Ian “Trash” McIntyre had fallen to his death from a window and young Penny Golightly had nearly become victim number two.
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Eighteen years later, Latimer was paroled and set his sights on Jack Sugden’s betrothed, Sarah Connolly. Not only did Sarah bear more than a passing resemblance to Sharon but Jack had been the Crown’s star witness and it was his testimony that clinched a guilty verdict.
Latimer managed to nab Sarah and spirit her away to a childhood haunt but when the police arrived, he was talked down by his hostage whom he released. In a rare victory for the Sugdens, Latimer was re-imprisoned and a promise was made that he would never again be freed.
Emmerdale – A Coming Out Story
Frank Tate was painfully aware of the fact that his daughter Zoe had a terrible time keeping a boyfriend. But he wasn’t prepared to learn the real reason why. “I’ve rehearsed this conversation over and over again…Laura…she’s gay. One night I went over to her place and she made a pass at me… I wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t what I wanted.”
What Is In A Name?
The destruction wrought by an Eastern European airliner exploding overhead nearly decimated the Beckindale community. In the immediate aftermath, four beloved villagers were dead and Chris Tate was permanently paralyzed.
Hoping to distance themselves from the incident and discourage souvenir seekers and tourists traveling the disaster circuit, residents decided to rechristen Beckindale and chose to honor its oldest family (the Sugdens) and pay tribute to the acreage that they had spent decades farming. Henceforth, Beckindale was called Emmerdale.
In Cold Blood
The rumors of Kim Tate’s death had been greatly exaggerated — a fact that estranged husband Frank learned the hard way when he laid eyes on her and then grew so angered that he suffered a heart attack!
For her part, Kim ripped the telephone cord out of the wall and simply stood by and watched as Frank succumbed. To ensure that her spouse was dead, Kim placed her compact mirror under his nose and then turned it around so she could apply a little more powder to her face.
Chris Tate put up with a lot from his third wife, Charity Dingle. But the final indignity was discovering that she had resumed her incestuous affair with cousin Cain. After learning he had an inoperable brain tumor, he fritted away the cash his widow would inherit and then called her to his home where he swallowed a vial of poison and used his dying breath, to sum up his low opinion of her — “Whore!”
Poor Andy Sugden was the frequent punching bag of the Sugden family, especially where his brother Robert was concerned. This is why Robert had no qualms about hitting the sheets with Andy’s wife Katie.
When Andy learned about the affair, he loaded a shotgun and hunkered down in Robert’s caravan, planning to murder his adulterous sibling. In a near-fatal twist, it wasn’t Robert whom Andy wound up shooting — it was his foster father Jack!
A holiday affair came back to haunt Val Pollard when she learned that she had contracted HIV. Her attempts to hide that fact led hubby Eric to stray with sister-in-law Diane but husband and wife reconciled.
Do Or Don’t
Robert Sugden’s decision to explore his bisexuality came at the most inopportune moment, considering the fact he was engaged to marry heiress Chrissie White. But explore he did and despite the trouble it caused (RIP Katie), he found true love with Aaron Dingle.