Emmerdale Farm (Later Emmerdale) was first screend on the 16th October 1972. It was intended to run for just 26 episodes, 13 weeks. Little did the producers and viewers know that 48 years and 8200 episodes later, the show would still be going strong. The original regular characters who appeared in the first episode consisted of just 9. Although the show did feature 1 guest character in the first episode:- Alec Saunders.
However a few weeks after the first episode, the Merrick and Blakey families were introduced, the latter being more regular whereas the former were in for just 7 episodes and did not reappear until 1980. These characters can be classed as originals as they were created by Kevin Laffan and devised before filming of the first episode commenced. As of 2020, out of the regular original cast members to have appeared in the very first episode, only Frazer Hines, Frederick Pyne, Jo Kendall and Gail Harrison are still living.
Here is a list of the regular characters who appeared in Episode 1 and the actors who played them:-
Characters (who were regular then or later became regulars) who were first seen in the first 20 episodes but not in the first episode:-
Jackie Merrick - played by Unknown Child
Tommy Merrick - played by Unknown Child
By the shows 10th anniversary in 1982 11 original characters remained (including Pat, Jackie and Sandie Merrick, and Tom). Only 7 of them appeared in the first episode. By then the number of characters was around 20. Also by then Jack Sugden was played by Clive Hornby.
By the 20th anniversary in 1992 Annie Sugden, Jack Sugden and Joe Sugden remained although Amos did occasionally pop back for odd visits after he retired to Spain in 1991. None of the other originals who were established shortly after Episode 1 remained.
By 1997 when Emmerdale turned 25 only Jack Sugden remained out of the original characters.
At the beginning of 2008 Jack Sugden was the only original character remaining. However he left in February 2008 to look after his ill mother in Spain and died offscreen of a heart attack in February 2009. Annie Sugden returned for the funeral which has been the latest appearence from an original character.
See also: Category:Original characters.