Created 30th January 2004

About Richard Thorp who Plays Alan Turner in Emmerdale

Richard Thorp


IMDB entry for: Richard Thorp


Latest Alan photo card

A Huge Big Thank you to Paul Berridge who has made various profiles and photos availabe to me. They were previously on his Beckindale site (that is no more). The following is one of those profiles - although the coloured boxes have been added.

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Click on hear to learn more about The Woolpack

Richard Thorp, who plays pub landlord Alan Turner, was on hand to represent Emmerdale's Woolpack when the Yorkshire Brewers' Association arranged a get-together of all licensees of Woolpack pubs in Yorkshire and Humberside during British Pub Week in 1993. 

Twelve publicans joined Richard for the special occasion at The Woolpack in Esholt, near Bradford, where the exterior of the TV pub was then filmed. The group included Bryan Hirst of the real-life pub in Esholt, which was called The Commercial Inn until he changed its name following an influx of tourists.

Caroline Bates was the major influence in tempering Alan Turner's abrasive personality.
There have been plenty of changes in Emmerdale over the past 20 years - the modern, sexy soap viewers enjoy today is light years away from the stuffy, country bumpkin image of its early days. But one man who can remember life before the bitching, bed-hopping and bus crashes is veteran actor Richard Thorp, who has played village stalwart Alan Turner for the past two decades.
"When I joined Emmerdale Farm we could get four episodes out of what Seth was doing to Amos's rhubarb!" laughs Richard fondly. "Things were a lot more character-led back then, but it worked as there weren't so many of us in the show and viewers knew each character really well. We didn't need one-hour specials and lots of sex."
Although Richard recognises the need to spice up life in the Dales, he admits that he does miss the old days.
"I appreciate that Emmerdale has to move with the times, but I liked it the way it was. It was unique, whereas now we're more like EastEnders in Wellington boots!"
As Richard regales us with tales of old times, it's hard. to believe that he is 70 next January. Perhaps it's something to do with the cheeky twinkle in his eye as he chats outside The Woolpack on the Emmerdale set. Or maybe his young-at-heart approach is the unexpected legacy of a life-changing experience six years ago, when he suffered a near-fatal heart attack and was diagnosed with lymphatic leukaemia.
"It might sound like a cliche, but those events changed my life," recalls Richard. "it made me really appreciate everything, and I became less ambitious. The heart attack happened at a party to celebrate being on This Is Your Life. It was an awful shock, and then to discover that I had leukaemia was terrifying. But luckily it's not active anymore. although my blood is still tested every three months,"
Richard believes that the curbing of his ambition, which helped him land roles in hit series Emergency - Ward 10 and Crossroads before Ernmerdale. has been a blessing in disguise: "I've watched new characters, like the Dingles, step into the spotlight while Alan's taken more of a back seat. If that had happened before my heart attack, I would have resented it. But I think Alan still has a valid role to play in Emmerdale - the villagers now see him as a kind of father figure. You'll see them show their affection for him in the epsiode where it's Alan's 65th birthday, and they serenade him with Leader Of The Pack as a surprise,"
For Richard, it's Alan Turner's ever-changing role that has made him a pleasure to play for an impressive 20 years.

"He's a harmless buffoon these days, but when Alan first arrived as the new manager of NY Estates, he was a total bastard," laughs Richard. "He sacked people right, left and centre, but his aggression was a cover for the fact that he wasn't very good at his job. Seth was the one person who could see through him and he delighted in winding him up in every episode until Turner would shout, 'Get out, Seth!' I still shout that catchphrase at Stan Richards, who plays Seth, whenever I see him."

Richard may like to make light of his character's early days, but his role as Beckindale's original baddie made him one of the soap's first celebrities and turned him into a huge star. But the fame had a dark side, as Richard reveals.
"We did a story where a drunk Turner was behind the wheel of his Range Rover and knocked Jackie Merrick off his motorbike. He got away with it because he was an important man in the community. On the evening that the episode was shown, I was out having dinner with some friends. When I went to go home, I discovered that my own Range Rover had been covered with abusive stickers saying things like, 'You shouldn't be driving, you fat git. Why don't you go back down South where you belong?' Someone had slashed all of the tyres, too."
So, what has been Richard's all-time favourite storyline? "The scriptwriter must have been under my pillow when he came up with the Jo Steadman story a few of years ago," says Richard, without hesitation. "This beautiful blonde in black leathers, played by the fantastic actress Julie Peasgood, roared into Alan's life on a Harley-Davidson. I was in absolute heaven." But that twist in Alan's fate wasn't a complete surprise to the actor.
Richard Thorp and
Julie Peasgood
"Our producer at the time, Morag Bain, was always happy to hear ideas from the cast. I suggested that we do something about bikers because they've always had such a bad image, and in my own experience, it's a small minority - like football hooligans - who give bikers an awful reputation. Most of them are smashing people."
And Richard knows what he's talking about, after a 30-year love affair with HarleyDavidsons. His passion for the motorbikes led to the highlight of his life so far - filming the documentary Star Gazers, in 1990 at the Harley-Davidson 50th anniversary rally in South Dakota.
"I have the most incredible memories of making that programme," enthuses Richard. "I was riding a special model Harley-Davidson across Custer National Park, when I thought I heard the sound of thunder. But it wasn't thunder at all; I looked round to discover that I was surrounded by a herd of buffalo' When I sped up, they sped up, and when I slowed down, they slowed down. They stayed with me for a quarter of a mile before running off.

"By the time I got back to the hotel, I could hardly speak for excitement, but when I managed to tell the other rally riders what had happened, they laughed and told me that it happens all the time. The buffalo mistake the low throb of the Harley's engine for another buffalo. All I can say is thank God it wasn't the mating season!"

As Ricliard finishes the story, a wicked grin spreads across his face.

"That gives me an idea for Alan Turner," he chuckles. "Do you remember when Diane Blackstock tried to seduce him, but he couldn't do a thing because he said he had indigestion? Well, maybe he needs some help in that department. I would love the writers to put Alan on Viagra - that would certainly get him back in the spotlight!"

Well, these days in the steamy village of Emmerdale... who knows?
Inside Soap August 2000
During his early years in Emmerdale as NY Estates manager Alan Turner, Richard Thorp gained an on-screen reputation as a boozer and womaniser, revelling in being pig-headed, selfish and bossy'. Away from the studios, he found himself treated on a par with nasty J. R. Ewing of Dallas, found that taxi drivers refused to pick him up and once managed to empty a tearoom in Harrogate simply by walking in.
It was a far cry from Richard's role as suave heart-throb Dr John Rennie in Emergency Ward 10, one of the most popular programmes on television in the fifties and sixties. 'Six weeks after it started in 1957,' recalls Richard 'one of the cast left and they wanted a "handsome, young" doctor to replace him. The producer, Rex Firkin, remembered me doing a sketch in Petula Clark's television show, which had come about after she appeared on television in
Life With the Lyons, in which I played Barbara Lyon's boyfriend. So Rex sent for me. By that time, I had put on weight and become quite hefty. He said, "You would be right for the part, but you're too fat. Do you think you can lose weight in the next six weeks?" I said, "You bet I can!" I lived on black coffee and fizzy water. I was so dizzy I kept bumping into things, but I got the role.' In 1961, Richard was given his own Sunday-afternoon series, Call Oxbridge 2000, in which his character moved from Oxbridge General Hospital to his own private practice as a GP.'One of my early patients was julie Christie,' he recalls. 'She was dropdead gorgeous and the camera absolutely adored her.'
The actor, who in the fifties had acted ship's second officer John Caldwell in the sitcom All Aboard and appeared in the films The Dam Busters, The Good Companions and The Barretts of Wimpole Street, then played a private detective alongside Dawn Addams in The 20,000 Kiss, made by a director who worked on Emergency Ward 10, and appeared in other sixties pictures such as Girls at Sea and Mystery Submarine. Later came television roles in Honey Lane, Public Eye, Maupassant and the epic Granada Television series A Family at War, playing actor Colin Campbell's friend in Bomber Command.
Richard also spent a year in the much maligned soap opera Crossroads, as hairdresser Vera Downend's merchant navy sailor boyfriend, Doug Randall. 'The pay was abysmal, but all the actors got London repeat fees,' recalls Richard. 'They then announced that London was going to take it all the time, so there weren't any repeats! I said I wasn,t going to continue and all the other actors said, "Good on ya!" So I went to the producer, Jack Barton, and told him that if that was the case, I wasn't coming back. None of the others said a bloody word and I just left there and then.
'I had great sympathy for everyone in Crossroads because they were producing four live episodes a week and working all the hours God sends in a very happy atmosphere. It was quite exciting because you never knew what was going to happen next or whether you would actually get through the scenes without anything going wrong. The press were terribly rude about us, but sometimes it wasn't entirely the actors' fault. It was amazing they got through it at all sometimes.
'I'm used to flying by the seat of my pants. Emergency Ward 10 was live and I remember Glyn Owen and I had a scene in which we were having a row down the hospital corridor. He flung a pair of transparent plastic doors open and the set collapsed. On the other side of the doors was an actor playing a patient fast asleep in a bed. We just had to continue as if nothing had happened. 'Another time, we had an actor who had a brainstorm and locked himself in the loo during the commercial break. He was playing an architect, and Jill Browne and I were supposed to walk into a bar and talk to him about our need for a new casualty department.
When we walked on to the set for our scene, there was no one there, but there was an extra as the barman who asked us if we were the nurse and doctor from the hospital across the road and explained that the man we were supposed to meet had had to go but had left a message. He was brilliant! He deserved a knighthood.' During his long career, Richard has done very little theatre, although he appeared in the West End productions of Murder at the Vicarage, with Muriel Pavlow and Bill Treacher, and Moving, which starred Penelope Keith. 'I dodt enjoy theatre,' he explains. 'I don't like doing the same thing night after night. I have the most appalling stage fright. I get sick.'
When Richard joined Emmerdale on his 50th birthday, in January 1982, he expected to be in the serial for only six months. The plan was to wind up the NY Estates storyline and, therefore, his role of its manager in the village, Alan Turner. 'But I got such a rapport going, first with Stan Richards, as Seth Armstrong, and later with Diana Davies, who played Alan,s secretary, Mrs Bates, that the powers-that-be liked it and kept it,' says Richard. Turner was written as totally humourless, very aggressive and contemptuous of all these farm workers. I played him with all the stops out. In fact, Diana once described Turner as a cross between Pooh Bear and Genghis Khan.

Diana Davies

' Over the years, he has become much more human and a bit of a buffoon. He's also become fatter and more pompous. I've always loved my food and enjoyed good wine. In fact, in the seventies I ran a wine business with a friend of mine and sold gallons of mock champagne.' Enjoying the good life led 18-stone Richard to buy a 17th-century Grade 1-listed manor house near Halifax, West Yorkshire, which he shares with his third wife, Noola, and their daughter, Emma.
'The house was bought originally by Guy Fawkes's uncle,' says Richard. 'More recently, one of the people who rented it was a boyfriend of the songwriter Ivor Novello, who visited and apparently wrote "Perchance to Dread' during one of his stays. One of the ladies in the village also remembers him coming down the stairs dressed for dinner one evening, sitting at the grand piano and performing "We'll Gather Lilacs". There was a lilac tree outside the window of his bedroom, where he had just written the song.'
In August 1999 Alan asked Stella Jones, lottery winner and owner of home farm, to marry him. She turned him down.

Taken from the emmerdale companion by Anthony Hayward

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