Emmerdale’s 50th anniversary could tie into Leeds cultural celebrations

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Sunny Bank Mills mending rooms Farsley
Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley

By David Spereall, local democracy reporting service

The 50th anniversary of ITV soap Emmerdale could tie into Leeds’ Year of Culture celebrations in 2023.

The much-loved soap, which is filmed across Leeds and was filmed at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley for many years, has been on the go for five decades. It started life as Emmerdale Farm in 1972.

And with Leeds planning to host a huge series of events celebrating the city’s culture and heritage next year, programme bosses are in talks about marking the birthday in style.

Emmerdale is produced at ITV’s Leeds studios on Kirkstall Road while most of the outdoor scenes for the soap are shot around the rural Harewood area, around eight miles north.

Speaking during a discussion about Leeds 2023 at a meeting on Monday, Harewood councillor Ryan Stephenson suggested a link-up with Emmerdale, adding that the programme has “huge influence” locally.

In response, the director of programmes for Leeds 2023, Emma Beverley, said: “I’m having a fantastic series of conversations with ITV at the moment about Emmerdale’s 50th anniversary.

“So that’s a great opportunity for us to reach a whole range of people and tell them about the year of culture.”

Leeds 2023 is receiving £7.2 million funding from Leeds City Council and an additional £4m had been secured from the Arts Council London, National Lottery, corporate sponsors and elsewhere.

The award-winning soap recently shifted to a 7.30pm weekday slot to accommodate an extended ITV news programme, having been at 7pm for many years.

Although a staple part of prime-time TV diets now, Emmerdale might never have reached its 25th anniversary. The show was in serious danger of being axed amid poor ratings in 1993, before a plane crash storyline in December of that year drew 18 million viewers and changed its fortunes for good.

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