Updated 31st January 2004

Robert Jacob Sugden
(September 1989 - 31 May 2001)

Christopher Smith

IMDB entry for: Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith official fan card as Robert.  Signed

Son of Jack & Pat
b. 22 Apr 1986

Stepmother: Sarah

Siblings, Jackie Merrick, Andy Sugden (adopted), half-siblings, Sandie Merrick, Victoria Sugden.

Robet with Jack and Sarah, circa 1994

Thank you to Will for providing this interview

Please visit Will's site Emmerdale Cast Interviews Homepage

Interview With Christopher Smith aka Robert Sugden 2003


WHILE ROBERT PLAYED HAPPY FAMILIES, THINGS TURNED SOUR OFF-SCREEN WHEN CHRISTOPHER WAS REPLACED...

Years before Robert Sugden was the hormonal boy racer he is today, an angelic blonde child stood in his place. That boy was Christopher Smith, who stepped into the role of Robert when he was just four years old, and stayed there until he was 16. And, as Christopher, now 18, reveals, growing up on the show was a priceless experience.
I didnt know anything else at the time, but I look back and realise what a great opportunity it was, recalls Christopher. My parents made sure it never interfered with my education, so I got the best of both worlds. Everybody on the set used to look after me. Then, after Id finished filming, Id be whisked back to school to be with my friends.

However in 2001 the axe fell, when producers decided to pack Robert off to Spain, before recasting Karl Davies in the role months later. In a dispute that is still ongoing, Christopher is allegedly suing Granada for unfair dismissal.
I cant talk about my feelings regarding the way I left the show because of ongoing matters, is all he will say. Leaving the show happened so fast, so it not being a part of my life took a while to kick in.
Christopher does have happier memories of his time on the show, however, particularly the kidnap storyline that saw Robert snatched from his family, in 1995 by hermit Derek Simpson.
It was a whole new experience for me to get a storyline of my own. We were filming in a cold barn, but I loved it. It was a chance to do some acting other then the usual family at breakfast stuff.

And keen to point out there are no hard feelings towards the cast, Christopher talks fondly of his fellow actors.
I was really pleased when they cast Kelvin Fletcher (Andy) as my brother. Up until then I was the only person my age in the cast, and it meant the show started to feature the younger characters more. I still see them around Leeds occasionally. I actually met Karl Davies, who took over my part, after I left. There arent any hard feelings towards him - hes a nice guy.

While he may not have predicted such an impromptu end to his days at Emmerdale, Christopher has no regrets about spending his formative years on the show, which has helped him concentrate on his wider goals.
Id like to go to university now, and study film and TV production. Having been around all kinds of cameras and sound equipment, Ive had a pretty good introduction to it. Ideally Id love to learn all about the work that goes on behind the scenes, and eventually direct my own stuff.


Andy Baker
Inside Soap

Emmerdale Cast Interviews Homepage

 

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 this coloured box has been added.

Amazingly, schoolboy Christopher Smith is one of Emmerdales longest-serving actors. He became the second boy to play Jack Sugden's son, Robert, in 1989, which proved to be the serial's year of the Smiths. Christopher's father, actor Richard Smith, appeared in Emmerdale in February with Alun Lewis -who played Vic Windsor in the programme - as sales reps Steve Wilson and Tony Barclay, who chatted up Dolly Skilbeck and Sandie Merrick. Then, in September, son Christopher took over the role of Robert Sugden from another Smith - also called Richard!
Born in Bradford five years earlier, Christopher had attended the citys Stage 84 drama school from the age of two. His mother, Gill, was choreographer there and his father had acted in programmes such as Van Der Valk and Flying Lady, as well as most episodes of The Goodies.
Christopher was four when Yorkshire Television visited Stage 84 looking for a new boy to play Robert in Emmerdale. 'About 50 of us were auditioned and I was picked,' says Richard. 'I was nervous when I first appeared in the programme. I had to remember not to look at the camera, which was quite difficult, being so young. But the hardest thing was learning lines, although that has become easier.'
By the time Christopher joined the cast, Robert's mother, Pat, had died in a car crash and jack was living with Sarah Connolly, whom he would eventually marry. One of Christopher's biggest dramas was when Robert went missing, in 1995. Although Jack and Sarah thought he had been abducted, Robert had gone off willingly with hermit Derek Simpson at a time when his father and stepmother's marriage was going through a bad patch. 'That was fun,' recalls Christopher. 'It meant I was doing more scenes and filming in about three different places.'
The arrival of Kelvin Fletcher as Andy Hopwood, who would become fostered by Jack and Sarah, was good news for Christopher. 'Before that, there weren't really any children in Emmerdale apart from me,' he says. 'Andy's arrival meant that Robert had someone to play with.'
Although he has been in the serial since 1989, Christopher is not sure whether he will make a career out of acting. 'I don't really know what I want to do,' he says. 'I will probably stay in the programme as long as I can.'
Christopher, who enjoys playing football and supports Bradford City, has an elder brother, Nicholas, and a younger sister, Polly. In 1991, their parents set up a wholesale sandwich business called Love Bites, which supplies many businesses, including Yorkshire Television. Since joining Emmerdale, Christopher has found greater fame as an actor than his father ever did, even getting spotted at Disney World, in Florida, and being mobbed by girls at the airport on his arrival home.

1986 Robert was born on 22 April, but his mum, Pat died when he was just five months old after her car went over the side of a hill and crashed. His dad, Jack, was left to bring him up on his own.


1989 Robert's dad fell in love with feisty librarian Sarah Connolly, and after a bit of a shaky start to the relationship, Robert finally had someone he could call 'mum'.


1991 The young lad was rushed to hospital after drinking poisonous sheep dip. Fortunately, he came through the experience unscathed.


1992 He was accused of leaving a gate open in the field where Kathy and Kim Tate kept their ponies. Several strayed into the road and one had to be destroyed, but it was later discovered that it had been the fault of visiting holidaymakers.


1993 Robert fell into the river but was saved from certain death by farm hand Michael Feldmann.Micahel Feldmann


1995 Jack was suspicious that Sarah was having an affair with a university professor and left Robert alone in a car while he staked Sarah out. Robert wandered off with hermit Derek Simpson, who was happy to look him. Jack and Sarah were going frantic and Derek eventually persuaded Robert to return home.


1996 Andy acquired a new foster brother, Andy Hopwood, when Jack and Sarah took him in after his grandma died and he was left alone.


1998 Robert ended up punching Donna Windsor after she started bullying Andy. Donna tried to make out that Robert was doing the bullying, but it didn't wash.


1999 The teenager was angry when his dad refused to allow him and Andy to go on a school trip to France. Jack claimed lack of money to be the problem, but Robert was sure it was because he wanted to keep the two boys chained to the farm.


2000 Robert was becoming increasingly hostile towards working on the farm and determined to follow a career in computers. Jack was sure he would come round, much like he had as a young man, but there was increasing friction between the two. Jack even thumped the teenager after an argument.

2001 Robert found out it was Andy who started the barn fire that killed his mother. He couldn't stand to be with Andy so he went to stay with his grandmother Annie in Spain.

Early fan card of Robert Sugden

Christopher Smith's last appearence as Robert Sugden was on May 31st 2001
Robert is now played by Karl Davies

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