Emmerdale (known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989) is a long-running British soap opera set in Emmerdale (known as Beckindale until 1994), a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales. Created by Kevin Laffan, Emmerdale Farm was first broadcast on 16 October 1972. Produced by ITV Yorkshire, it has been filmed at their Leeds studio since its inception. The programme has been broadcast in every ITVregion.
The premise of Emmerdale Farm was similar to the BBC radio soap opera The Archers, focusing on a family, a farm and characters in a nearby village. The programme’s farmyard filming was originally modelled on RTÉ’s The Riordans, an Irish soap opera which was broadcast from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s. The Riordans broke new ground for soap operas by being filmed largely outdoors (on a farm, owned on the programme by Tom and Mary Riordan) rather than in a studio—the usual practice of British and American soap operas. The programme pioneered farmyard location shooting, with farm animals and equipment. During the 1960s and 1970s, outdoor filming of television programmes with outdoor broadcast units (OBUs) was in its infancy due to higher costs and reliance on the weather. The Riordans‘ success demonstrated that a soap opera could be filmed largely outdoors, and Yorkshire Television sent people to its set in County Meath to see the programme’s production firsthand.
Over the years, Emmerdale has highlighted a range of different social issues, including rape, cancer, miscarriage, dementia, homosexuality, arson, murder, HIV, sexual assault, post traumatic stress disorder, brain aneurysm, adultery, domestic violence, financial problems, embezzlement, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, anorexia, teenage pregnancy, gambling addiction, bereavement, fraud, suicide, mesothelioma, schizophrenia, manslaughter, becoming a parent in later life, sudden infant death syndrome, self-harming, assisted suicide, epilepsy and premature births.