Clive Hornby: Jack Sugden in 'Emmerdale'

For almost 30 years, Clive Hornby played Emmerdale's longest-running character, Jack Sugden, the flat cap-wearing elder son of the matriarchal Annie Sugden, who was facing widowhood after the death of her farmer husband Jacob when the serial began – as Emmerdale Farm – in 1972.

Jack was the prodigal son who had left for London with ambitions to become a writer after bitter rows about farming methods, but arrived back in the fictional Yorkshire village of Beckindale on the day of his father's funeral. He helped to turn the ailing farm around but had a stormy relationship with his younger brother, Joe.

The actor Andrew Burt originally played Jack, who left again after two years to pursue his literary ambitions and reappeared briefly in 1976. When the storyline called for his resurrection four years later, Clive Hornby took over the role and became the ITV soap's longest-serving actor, staying until last January, when he left because of ill health.

During his years in the serial (1980-2008), Hornby saw his character marry three wives – Pat Merrick, Sarah Connolly and Diane Blackstock, the first two of whom died – and have affairs with the auctioneer Karen Moore, Jack's married old flame Marian Wilks and his brother's stepdaughter, Rachel.

The hot-headed Jack found a focus for his anger when he protested against proposals to site a nuclear dump in Beckindale and spent seven days in jail for contempt of court, but the battle was won. He was also a hero of the hour when a plane blew up, Lockerbie-style, over the village in 1993, using his tractor and water pipes to replace the destroyed bridge over the stream, allowing access for emergency vehicles.

The following year, Beckindale was renamed Emmerdale, just as the programme had been in 1989, heralding a shift away from the farm and towards the raunchy goings-on in the village.

Over the years, Hornby saw comparisons between himself and his character. "He's getting older and more content," he told me in 1997. "And he has responsibilities, as I do. I have a responsibility to my son and his education. I'm like any other dad. Sometimes, I'm a bit intolerant, but I adore my son and love him dearly. If I were a single person, I might not have done Emmerdale for so long, but I have responsibilities. I've built up an established, well-liked character and I still enjoy being in the programme."

Born in Liverpool in 1944, Hornby trained as an accountant but resigned after six months as an accounts clerk to play drums in the pop group The Dennisons, who quickly became popular in the city. They even performed on the same bill as The Beatles at the Cavern Club and the Aintree Institute, before the Fab Four found national fame, and had two Top 50 singles, "Be My Girl" (1963) and "Walkin' the Dog" (1964). "A lot of people thought The Dennisons would take over from The Beatles, but we just drifted into different areas and split up," Hornby recalled.

Deciding on a career in acting, he worked as an assistant stage manager at the Liverpool Playhouse for a year, before training at Lamda, in London. He then performed in repertory theatre in Greenwich, Guildford, Northampton, Dundee, Salisbury and Newbury.

On television, Hornby appeared in episodes of the RAF sitcom Get Some In! (1975), the Gerry Anderson-produced series Space: 1999 (1975-77) and A Life at Stake (1978). He also acted alongside George Cole in Minder (1979). "Originally, I was going to be the guy who had the garage where Arthur Daley got his dodgy cars from," said Hornby. "But then I did another job and couldn't continue in that role.

The actor also had a small part in the film No Longer Alone (starring Belinda Carroll and James Fox, 1978), but his brief appearance in Yanks (1979) ended up on the cutting-room floor.

The opportunity to join Emmerdale came along while Hornby was in a West End production of Murder at the Vicarage. Fact followed fiction when, in 1984, he married the actress Helen Weir, who played his screen wife Pat in Emmerdale, and the couple's son, Thomas, was born two years later. Weir left the serial shortly afterwards and the couple divorced eight years ago.

Meanwhile, Hornby was happy to continue in a secure job, as a character he enjoyed playing. "The great thing about Jack is I get to do things I wouldn't normally do – like throw tables about, chuck dressers around and fight in cow slurry."

Anthony Hayward

Clive Hornby, actor: born Liverpool 20 October 1944; twice married (one son); died 3 July 2008.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine