Richard Stanley Thorp was an English actor who played Alan Turner for 31 years from 1982 to 2013. He was the longest serving actor in the show on a continuous basis until Chris Chittell surpassed the 31 years, 2 months and 2 weeks in mid December 2017. Before Emmerdale Richard's other TV credits include Crossroads, Emergency Ward 10 and numerous films.
Pre Emmerdale career
Richard Stanley Thorp was born on the 2nd January 1932 in Purley, Surrey to Stanley and Kathleen Thorp (Nee Goddard). His father Stanley Thorp ran a shoe factory. Richard attended drama school in the early 1950s. His first acting role was in 1955 in the film The Dambusters. His first major TV role was as Dr Rennie in Emergency Ward 10 from 1957 to 1967. He went onto roles in The Avengers and Crossroads.
Richard joined the cast of Emmerdale Farm in late 1981 after auditioning. He filmed his first scenes in late 1981 outside Creskeld Hall, Bramhope, Yorkshire. On the 2nd January 1982, his 50th birthday, he began filming his first studio scenes. Originally, Richard had just signed to do 6 months in the show, to wrap up the NY Estates era but he proved popular with viewers so they continued the NY Estates story and made Alan a regular. Playing Alan Turner was Richard's first major TV role since Emergency Ward 10.
As Alan was a villain, Richard often got stick from fans. From 1982 to 1984 Alan Turner often made passes at his female secretaries at Home Farm, and drunk heavily, as well as being grotty to the staff and even resorting to blackmail. By the mid 1980s Alan Turner toned down his womanising, bullying and lazy ways. This was inspired by 2 people, Christopher Meadows, the NY Estates boss who gave him a warning, and Caroline Bates, his secretary, who bought out the gentler more humourous side to Alan. Yet fans still complained. In late January 1988 one reader wrote into a local newspaper saying "They are a miserable lot down at Emmerdale aren't they? That Alan Turner is really horrible".
By 2007, 75 year old Richard was plagued by health problems and this meant his character was written out of the show for weeks or months at a time. He took about 5 months off in early 2008 and again from mid 2009 to January 2010 for knee surgery. He returned to filming but his apprearances as Alan were much more sporadic. In early 2013, Richard again was admitted to hospital, just after filming more scenes as Turner, what was to be his final scenes.
Richard Thorp died on the 22nd May 2013 aged 81. As he had been filming episodes of Emmerdale recently, due to the advance filming schedule, Richard's last appearance as Alan Turner was Episode 6569 (4th June 2013). Richard's death hit the show hard and all his colleagues and the then Emmerdale producer, Kate Oates all played tribute to him.
His father ran a shoe factory.