Stan Richards

Seth Armstrong in the soap 'Emmerdale'

In his Barbour jacket, wellingtons and woolly hat, and sporting a handlebar moustache, Seth Armstrong, played by Stan Richards, was one of the most instantly recognisable characters in the ITV soap opera
Emmerdale, most likely to be seen propping up the bar at the local pub the Woolpack.

Stanley Richardson (Stan Richards), actor and comedian: born Barnsley, South Yorkshire 8 December 1930; married (two sons, three daughters, and one son deceased); died Barnsley 11 February 2005.

In his Barbour jacket, wellingtons and woolly hat, and sporting a handlebar moustache, Seth Armstrong, played by Stan Richards, was one of the most instantly recognisable characters in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale, most likely to be seen propping up the bar at the local pub the Woolpack.

When first seen, in 1978, Seth was the odd-job man who looked after the village school's boiler. On discovering that he was illiterate, one of the teachers taught him to read and write. But he was not unskilled in the ways of the countryside. His reputation as the wiliest poacher in the area led him to be employed as gamekeeper by NY Estates, which bought the Home Farm estate following the death of the local squire, George Verney. The result was a sudden decrease in illegal activities, although Seth had a reputation for being workshy and devious, and found less time to slip away to the Woolpack when he was given responsibility for looking after a new fish farm.

After the death of his rarely seen wife, Meg, Seth found new love when he rekindled the flames with his wartime sweetheart, Betty Eagleton (the actress Paula Tilbrook), in 1994, although the couple never married.

"No one gets the better of Seth," said Richards, who played the character for almost 27 years. "but he's terrified of Betty! She loves him dearly, though - otherwise, she wouldn't stick with him." The actor summed up the lovable rogue with the words: "Seth is happy as long as he has something to eat and a few quid in his pocket to go to the pub."

Richards himself was born Stanley Richardson in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1930. He started his working life as a Ministry of Labour clerk and, after being transferred to London, hated the capital so much that he resigned. Returning to Yorkshire, he took a job in the accounts department of a firm that sold disinfectants and lavatory paper.

A pianist since the age of 10, he had already been performing with dance bands in pubs and clubs in the evenings. When he was 21, he formed a comedy and musical quartet called Melody Maniacs. "We played all the clubs in Yorkshire,"explained Richards, "and we were a very successful act.

I joined another lad, Frankie Newton, who played the drums and sang and did impressions, and I did the comedy and played the

piano. In 1965, I went professional with a vocal-comedy quartet called the Four Renowns and, three years later, went solo and performed all over the country, at Batley Variety Club, social clubs and working men's clubs.

Then, the acclaimed film director Ken Loach invited Richards to take an acting role in a two-part BBC play, The Price of Coal (1977), written by Barry Hines, the author and playwright from Hoyland Common, near Barnsley. Like some other Loach productions, including the film classic Kes, it cast stand-up comedians in straight acting roles, to dramatic effect. Richards's character, Albert, was one of two miners killed in a pit explosion. The other leading parts were taken by Bobby Knutt, Jackie Shinn and Duggie Brown.

This resulted in Richards finding an agent and getting more television roles. He was briefly seen as Arthur Stokes, a councillor who bought a secondhand china cabinet from Betty Turpin (now Williams) in Coronation Street (1977, 1978) and mistakenly thought she was having an affair with Alf Roberts, his friend on the council.

He also played a pig farmer, Charlie Dent, in three episodes of All Creatures Great and Small (1978, 1980) and a railway parcel man in Last of the Summer Wine (1979), as well as taking bit-parts in The Cuckoo Waltz, Crown Court and the films Agatha (as a hotel porter, 1979) and Yanks (1979).

Richards landed the role of Seth Armstrong in 1978, when the ITV serial set in Yorkshire was six years old and called Emmerdale Farm (it was retitled Emmerdale in 1989). It was a very different serial in those days, as Richards recalled.

When I joined the programme, there were just seven regular members of the cast. It went out around the country on different days and at different times. Now, we have a much bigger cast and more variety of characters, and it's been updated, aiming for a younger audience. Whereas the Sugdens and the farm were the whole programme when I started, now they are just a part of it - and that hasn't done us any harm.

Although the soap became raunchier and one of television's most popular programmes, with a peak-time, networked slot in the ITV schedule, Seth himself mellowed slightly, perhaps battered by the effects of being beaten unconscious by a gang of poachers and badger-baiters, the death of his wife and the demolishing of his home in the Lockerbie-style plane crash that wiped out four villagers, various buildings and Seth's dog, Smokey.

Shortly afterwards, he started a new life with Betty Eagleton. "He is slightly more domesticated," Richards reflected, "but he is still the eccentric character he was. He is a very good gamekeeper and goes his own way with everything."

In recent years, the actor suffered increasing ill health. He broke a leg in 1995 - a year after the death of his wife, Susan, from cancer - but insisted on getting back to the studios eight weeks later, switching between a wheelchair and a bar stool on the Woolpack set, saying: "I felt I wanted to come back. After almost 20 years, Emmerdale is my life."

Then, in September 2003, Richards was written out of Emmerdale after suffering a collapsed lung and emphysema - Seth was sent to Australia to recuperate from his own illness. However, he was seen on screen last Christmas Eve, when Betty and other villagers watched a video message he had recorded for them.

Richards was the serial's longest-serving cast member.

Anthony Hayward



News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence