If you’ve been watching (or rewatching) classic Emmerdale on ITV3 in the afternoons then you’ll have seen a few differences between the Emmerdale of then and the Emmerdale of now. While the TV and soap landscape has changed significantly since the 1980s and we’re lucky enough to get 6 episodes a week, there are a few elements of the classic episodes that would improve the modern day show we know and love. Here are just a few of them.
Emmerdale might have lost its “Farm” tag in 1989, but farming and the countryside was still a huge part of the show in the late 80s and 90s, as seen in the repeated episodes of this time. Farming and the rural setting is Emmerdale’s USP and these days is a really under utilised aspect. Fans enjoy the novelty of seeing animals on screen but it shouldn’t be such a rarity for a countryside show. Time has moved on and the village is a lot less about farming than it used to be, but there are still the Dingle pigs and Butler’s farm – and even the vets could get involved now and again. No one wants every storyline about sheep, but as shown in the classic episodes, farming issues can really affect the standing and reputation of a family in a small community. Farming was at the heart of the village once and it’s a shame it’s taken such a huge backseat. Characters are rarely seen at work in current episodes, and whether they’re farming or in another industry, a few more grounded stories wouldn’t go amiss.
A Gossip Behind the Bar
One of the most iconic Emmerdale characters of the past has to be Woolpack landlord Amos, with his huge wiry sideburns. A long running comedy storyline about a village play might not go down all that well in modern times, but I reckon there’s a warmth and nosiness to Amos sorely lacking in Emmerdale as it stands. Sure, we do have our gossips – like Brenda, Faith or the rarely seen Pearl – but since losing Betty no one quite has that busy-body inquisitiveness like Amos. Not only is Amos a gossip, but he’s also in prime position behind the bar and has a journalistic background meaning he just can’t help himself in asking endless questions. Can we recruit someone to be the new gossip, or how about an older newbie for the village?
More Outside Scenes
One of the biggest surprises in watching classic Emmerdale is just how regularly characters are filmed out and about. It’s not just in the village or on the various farms, but around the huge grounds of Home Farm and even in town around the streets. Sure, it’s a bigger expense and complication to film on location but it creates a feeling of authenticity to see the villagers in other streets, towns or even the shops. In scenes that aired recently on ITV3 you had Kim and Zoe Tate walking the streets, outside shops, and Jack Sugden working at a chippie. We’d never get that these days! With Home Farm set to become a bigger deal when Kim returns here’s hoping we’ll see more of the grounds too and not just that ugly kitchen!
A Bigger Home Farm Divide
Speaking of Home Farm, one of the most significant differences you notice watching classic episodes of Emmerdale is the huge differences in class, wealth and power that Home Farm has. In the older episodes the Tates had control of the estate and their ownership of properties, farm and land had a huge impact on the day to day lives of the villagers. The villagers were suspicious of new owners in case it impacted upon their lands and homes, but for some a job working for the house was sought after. The Tates also were wealthy enough to hire a housekeeper, a gardener and their house and grounds were treated a lot more like a business than it currently is. Recently it seems like they’ve tried to get back to this arrangement in current episodes, as Graham has tried making villagers homeless, but as it stands Home Farm is aimless and the business side of things is vague. Perhaps current Home Farm needs a bit more of the classic country estate feeling, increase the wealth and power divide and make the “little people” more nervous about their future.
Women Who Stand Their Ground
When it comes to powerful women and stories of female characters having agency, Emmerdale can be a bit hit and miss. The same can probably be said of classic Emmerdale too, but there’s something about the ambition and forthright nature of the women in the classic Emmerdale episodes that’s really appealing. Whether it’s Zoe Tate’s confident approach to her veterinary research, the legendary “Ma” Sugden presiding over the farm, or the bolshie Sarah Conolly giving Jack a list of rules before she moves in – these women are head-strong and determined, carving out their own lives. It’s good to see female characters in roles beyond just being mothers, love interests or bitches, by giving them passions and opinions too.