Emmerdale Farm (1972– )
|Content Rating||TV-PG (TV-PG)|
|Awards||Awards62 wins & 197 nominations total|
|Company||EMG Management, Yorkshire Television (YTV)|
Emmerdale (known as Emmerdale Farm until 1989) is a 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. Interior scenes have been filmed at The Leeds Studios since its inception. Exterior scenes were first filmed in Arncliffe in Littondale, and the series may have taken its name from Amerdale, an ancient name of Littondale. Exterior scenes were later shot at Esholt, but are now shot at a purpose built set on the Harewood estate. The programme is broadcast in every ITV region.
The series originally aired during the afternoon until 1978, when it was moved to an early-evening prime time slot in most regions; London and Anglia followed during the mid-1980s. Until December 1988, Emmerdale took seasonal breaks; since then, it has been broadcast year-round. The programme began broadcasting in high definition on 10 October 2011. Since January 2019, ten sequential classic episodes of the inception of Emmerdale have been broadcast weekly on ITV3.
1972–1985: Emmerdale Farm
Emmerdale Farm was created when Kevin Laffan was asked to write a lunchtime farming serial for ITV, as the network was looking to expand its daytime programming after government restrictions on broadcasting hours were relaxed. Laffan had worked on a farm for six months in his youth, and said on writing about farm life: "I was intrigued by the idea that farming was a way of life, as opposed to simply a way of earning a living."
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 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.
The show's early years as Emmerdale Farm centred on the Sugden family and rural farm life. The show was originally broadcast twice a week in the afternoon, and was regarded by critics as a "sleepy soap" where not much happened. The first episode aired on 16 October 1972 at 1.30pm, and began with the serial's characters convening in the fictional village of Beckindale for a funeral. The first episode, along with the others, has been repeated and released on a variety of media. Originally meant to be a three-month serial, Emmerdale Farm was given an extended run, later moving to a late afternoon time slot. By 1977, it was moved to a prime time evening slot in most ITV regions.
1986–1992: Revamp and becoming a major British soap
In the late 1980s, a new production team headed by executive producer Keith Richardson was brought in, and the show's focus moved to the nearby village of Beckindale, with more dramatic storylines such as Pat Sugden's 1986 car crash and the 1988 Crossgill fire. By 1988, the show had been moved to an evening time slot in all ITV regions. Emmerdale Farm also began broadcasting episodes year-round that year.
Reflecting its change in focus, the title was changed to Emmerdale on 14 November 1989. Coinciding with the title change was the introduction of the wealthy Tate family, bringing with them racier storylines. Under Richardson, the soap's popularity gradually began to improve. Richardson produced the programme for 24 years, overseeing its transformation from a minor, daytime, rural drama into a major prime time UK soap opera.
By 1993, Emmerdale was into its third decade on the air and December 1993 saw a major turning point in the show's history, when an episode featured a plane crashing into the village of Beckindale, killing four main characters, giving Emmerdale its highest-ever audience of 18 million and marked its "graduation" into a major prime time soap opera. The plane crash "allowed the writers to get rid of much dead wood, and reinvent the soap virtually from scratch," which included survivors changing the village name from "Beckindale" to "Emmerdale". Since the plane crash, Emmerdale has had increasingly dramatic storylines and glamorous characters. In 1994, former Coronation Street producer Mervyn Watson was hired to inject more humour into the show. New long-term characters, such as the Windsor and Dingle families, were also introduced in the 1990s. The Tates became the soap's leading family during the decade.
2000–2011: Continued success and more episodes
By 2000, Emmerdale episodes were regularly getting 12 million viewers, and the number of episodes per week was increased from three to five. An ITV talent show, Soapstars, was held in 2001 to cast the new five-member Calder family; the Calders made their debut on the show in November that year, and all members had left by August 2002. In 2004, Emmerdale became the first British soap opera to broadcast six episodes a week. By 2006, Emmerdale was contending with, and at times beating, EastEnders in viewership. In 2007, an hour-long special episode revealing the murderer of Tom King (Kenneth Farrington) aired; the episode gained an average of 8.6 million viewers, peaking at 9.1 million viewers when Tom's son Carl (Tom Lister) confesses to the murder. The episode received more than double the amount of viewership EastEnders did.
The early and mid-2000s saw the introduction of major long-term characters, including the King family and Cain (Jeff Hordley) and Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins). This era also saw high-profile castings such as Patsy Kensit as Sadie King in 2004, and Amanda Donohoe and Maxwell Caulfield as Natasha and Mark Wylde in 2008. Major storylines during this period included a bus crash, Sarah Sugden's death in a barn fire, a New Year's Eve storm, the Kings River explosion, and the Sugden house fire. In 2009, the longest-tenured character, Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby), was killed off. Jack's funeral featured the first on-screen appearance in 13 years of Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier). Also in 2009, executive producer Keith Richardson was replaced by former series producer Steve November (later replaced by John Whiston). Gavin Blyth became the series producer, followed by Stuart Blackburn after his death.
2012–present: 40th anniversary and beyond
Emmerdale celebrated its 40th anniversary with its first-ever live episode on 17 October 2012. "Emmerdale Live" featured the death of Carl King (Tom Lister), and a live music festival with performances by Scouting for Girls and The Proclaimers as part of the anniversary celebrations. The story of Carl's death took the show into 2013, when Kate Oates replaced Blackburn as the new series producer. One of Oates' aims was to feature more of the village and rural countryside locations, and to bring more "balance" to the show instead of focusing on "a few very high-profile stories".
Major storylines during this period included a helicopter crash that killed Ruby Haswell (Alicya Eyo) and Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick), and a multi-car pile-up. In 2016, Emmerdale was named Best British Soap for the first time at The British Soap Awards. In January 2019, ITV3 began airing episodes of Emmerdale from the beginning of the soap's inception. Billed Classic Emmerdale, ten sequential episodes have been broadcast weekly since.
In March 2019, an episode featuring an exclusively female cast and crew was aired, in support of International Women's Day. Executive producer Jane Hudson commented that the episode was: "a great opportunity for Emmerdale to show the female talent we have both in front and behind the camera." In 2020, the production and filming of Emmerdale was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to prevent the programme from coming off air, the episodes shown per week were halved from six to three. They were later reduced to two episodes a week, but have since returned to the normal schedule.
Setting and characters
Emmerdale has had a large number of characters since it began, with its cast gradually expanding in size. The series has also had changing residences and businesses for its characters.
The series is set in Emmerdale (known as Beckindale until 1994), a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales. A farmhouse, Emmerdale Farm, was the original focal point of the show when it first broadcast in 1972. The farm was the home of the Sugden family, having been purchased by Jacob Sugden in the 1930s. Jacob ran the farm into the ground, drinking away its profits. The badly-maintained farm's future looked bleak when it was passed on to Jacob's son Jack upon the former's death. The farmhouse was written out of the series in the early 1990s. Local public house, The Woolpack, "is the heart of the community." Home Farm is a sprawling mansion in Emmerdale; it was first introduced on-screen as Miffield Hall in 1973 and was renamed in 1978. Other locales include a factory and a bed-and-breakfast.
Emmerdale has featured a number of families, some defining an era of the show:
- The Sugden family (1972–present)
- The Bates family (1984–2001)
- The Tate family (1989–2005, 2009–present)
- The Windsor/Hope families (1993–present)
- The Dingle family (1994–present)
- The Glover family (1994–2000)
- The Thomas family (1996–present)
- The Blackstock/Lambert family (1998–present)
- The Reynolds family (1999–2007)
- The King family (2004–present)
- The Sinclair/Oakwell family (2006–2008)
- The Wylde/Lamb family (2009–2011)
- The Barton family (2009–present)
- The Sharma family (2009–present)
- The Macey family (2010–2019)
- The Spencer family (2011–present)
- The White family (2014–2019)
The Sugdens and their relatives, the Merricks and the Skilbecks, were at the centre of the show during the series' first two decades in the 1970s and 1980s (the Emmerdale Farm era). The Sugdens, owners of Emmerdale Farm, were its first family. Many of its members, and those of the Merrick and Skilbeck families, have left or been killed off since the mid-1990s. Sugdens remaining in the village include Jack's widow, Diane Sugden (Elizabeth Estensen); his daughter, Victoria Barton (Isabel Hodgins) and her son Harry, and Jack's adoptive son Andy's (Kelvin Fletcher) children Sarah and Jack (the latter born on the show's 40th anniversary).
December 1984 saw the arrival of Caroline Bates; her teenage children, Kathy and Nick, followed in late 1985. Caroline left the show in 1989, returning for guest appearances in 1991, 1993-1994 and 1996. Nick was written out of the show when he was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1997. Kathy and her niece, Alice, remained in the village until late 2001; by then, Kathy had outlived two husbands. The wealthy Tates were introduced as the new owners of Home Farm in 1989, with the family consisting of Frank Tate (Norman Bowler), wife Kim (Claire King) and children Chris (Peter Amory) and Zoe (Leah Bracknell).
Other families followed: the middle-class Windsors in 1993, known as the Hope family after Viv's (Deena Payne) 2001 marriage to Bob Hope (Tony Audenshaw), and the ne'er-do-well Dingle family in 1994. The Tate, Windsor-Hope and Dingle families predominated during the 1990s and 2000s. The era's storylines included the 1993 plane crash, the 1994 Home Farm siege, the 1998 post-office robbery, the 2000 bus crash, the 2003–04 storm and the 2006 King show-home collapse. By the mid- to late-2000s, the last of the Tates (Zoe, daughter Jean and nephew Joseph) had emigrated to New Zealand. In 2009, Chris Tate's ex-wife Charity and their son Noah returned to the village. In 2017, Joe Tate returned to the village. In 2018, Kim Tate returned to the village after nearly 20-year absence, and in the following year her son James returned as well. Members of the Windsor-Hope family left the village in early 2006, and Viv Hope was killed off in a village fire in February 2011 after nearly 18 years on the show. As of 2017, only Donna Windsor's daughter, April, and the Hope branch of the family (Bob and his children, twins Cathy and Heathcliff) remain.
The King family arrived in 2004 (as the Tates departed), but, apart from Jimmy King, his half-sister, Scarlett Nicholls (who has now left the show) and his three children, Elliott, Angelica and Carl, its members have been killed off. By 2018, most of the Dingles still remained, having actually increased their numbers in Emmerdale over the years. Their circumstances had changed in their two decades in the village; Chas Dingle owned half of The Woolpack, with Charity Dingle owning the other half, and Marlon was a chef there. In 2014, the Dingles, Bartons and Whites are the central families; the Bartons are a farming family, and the Whites currently own Home Farm. In 2018, the Barton and White families had slowly been diminished, while the Sugden, and later the Tate, family had been brought back into front-burner storylines.
|1||Chris Chittell||Eric Pollard||1986–present (34 years)|
|2||Richard Thorp||Alan Turner||1982–2013 (31 years)|
|3||Clive Hornby||Jack Sugden||1980–2008 (28 years)|
|4||Steve Halliwell||Zak Dingle||1994–present (26 years)|
|5||Stan Richards||Seth Armstrong||1978–2003, 2004 (25 years)|
|6||Mark Charnock||Marlon Dingle||1996–present (24 years)|
|7||Dominic Brunt||Paddy Kirk||1997–present (24 years)|
|8||James Hooton||Sam Dingle||1995–1998, 2000–present (24 years)|
|9||Jane Cox||Lisa Dingle||1996–2019 (22 years)|
|10||Sheila Mercier||Annie Sugden||1972–1994, 1995, 1996, 2009 (22 years)|
|11||Elizabeth Estensen||Diane Sugden||1999–present (21 years)|
|12||Paula Tilbrook||Betty Eagleton||1994–2015 (21 years)|
|13||John Middleton||Ashley Thomas||1996–2017, 2018 (21 years)|
|14||Kelvin Fletcher||Andy Sugden||1996–2016 (20 years)|
|15||Tony Audenshaw||Bob Hope||2000–present (20 years)|
|16||Patrick Mower||Rodney Blackstock||2000–present (20 years)|
Over the years, along with its stories of romance and family life, Emmerdale has highlighted a range of different social issues. The issues it has covered include: rape (including marital rape), sexual assault, child sexual abuse, prostitution, domestic violence, childhood cancer, HIV, mesothelioma, epilepsy, brain aneurysm, dementia, teenage pregnancy, premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, homosexuality, asexuality, being transgender, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia, anorexia, self-harm, suicide, assisted suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling addiction.
In January 2021, a poll was conducted by YorkshireLive to see which storylines in the soap's history viewers felt had impacted Emmerdale the most. The top ten, in order of first to tenth, was: the Emmerdale plane crash (1993), the storm that killed Tricia Dingle (Sheree Murphy) on the 10th anniversary of the plane crash (2003), the Hotten bypass crash (2016), Belle Dingle's (Eden Taylor-Draper) mental health battle (2016), the mirror maze which led to Val Pollard's (Charlie Hardwick) death (2015), Ashley Thomas' (John Middleton) battle with dementia (2016), the post office robbery (1994), Dave Glover's (Ian Kelsey) death (1996), Ross Barton's (Michael Parr) acid attack (2018) and the 40th anniversary episode which saw Carl King's (Tom Lister) death, two births and a wedding (2012).
Emmerdale was first broadcast two afternoons a week in 1972, usually Mondays and Tuesdays. From 1977 the series moved out of Daytime, with the majority of ITV regions choosing to accommodate the programme in the 19:00 Tuesday and Thursday slot. Anglia Television, Grampian Television, Thames Television and Westward Television preferred 17:15 slot, with the days sometime changing. Scottish Television broadcast Emmerdale twice a week at different times and days, with no fixed slot. In January 1982; for the most part Anglia Television, Grampian Television, Scottish Television, Thames Television and TSW finally given series a fixed slot of 17:15 on Monday and Friday in-between Crossroads, in Autumn of 1984 Friday edition was moved to Tuesday. In 1985 Thames Television/Television South West moved series back to 7 pm in line with the network. Anglia Television, Grampian Television and Scottish Television kept the 17.15 slot until December 1987.
From 6 January 1988, all ITV regions networked the show in the Wednesday and Thursday 18.30 slot. From January 1990 all other regions followed the Central and Anglia schedule in the familiar Tuesday and Thursday 19:00 slot. Scottish Television used the 19:00 slot to broadcast daily regional programmes, including Take the High Road resulting in Emmerdale moving to 17:10 from 7 September 1993 until 18 December 1997 when the show went back to the 19:00 slot on 6 January 1998.
By 1 January 1997, ITV had opted to increase their output to three episodes a week with the additional episode being screened on Wednesdays, From 2 October 2000, a further two episodes were added on a Monday and Friday evening, thus making "Emmerdale" a daily soap. A sixth episode begin to air on Sundays in 2004, making Emmerdale the first British soap to broadcast six episodes a week.
In January 2008, as with Coronation Street, ITV announced they would cease airing Emmerdale on a Sunday night; this meant that Emmerdale would still air at the same time on a Monday–Friday, but, to compensate, the Tuesday episode would run until 20:00. Producers of the soap revealed that "each hour-long episode on Tuesday will be specially written and won't be two half-hour ones put together." Each Tuesday episode was given an episode title but this practice was stopped in August 2008. The second half-hour of each Tuesday episode was broadcast at the same time as the BBC's soap EastEnders; this was unusual, as the main terrestrial channels in the UK usually schedule their soap operas to avoid clashes like this.
On 8 July 2009, ITV announced that they were to revamp their schedule yet again. This time, Emmerdale's Tuesday hour-long episode was reduced back down to 30 minutes, and replaced with a second Thursday episode. Emmerdale and EastEnders ratings have improved thanks to this, with Emmerdale getting 7.7 million, its highest in over 6 months, on 1 October 2009.
Between April and August 2019, ITV began airing an additional episode on Tuesdays at 8pm, bringing the total number of episodes a week to seven but it was reduced back to six due to the heavy amount of filming for cast and crew involved. In March 2020, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, filming was suspended, and the episodes transmitted per week were decreased to three on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For three weeks of June 2020, two episodes of Emmerdale were transmitted per week in order to preserve episodes. At the end of June, episodes returned to three per week. In September, Emmerdale returned to its regular transmission count of six weekly episodes.
|2008–2009||5 (1 hour on Tuesdays)|
|April – August 2019||7|
|March – June 2020||3|
|June – September 2020||3|
|September 2020 – present||6|
Emmerdale reaches viewers in the Republic of Ireland via Virgin Media One, which broadcasts the series simultaneously with ITV in the UK. Emmerdale was formerly broadcast during the day on RTÉ One from 1972 to 2001, before it moved to TV3, now known as Virgin Media One. RTÉ were several months behind; for many years, they broadcast the show five days a week (instead of ITV's three days a week) and took a break during the summer. As the series began a five-night week, RTÉ fell behind the ITV broadcasts; the gap between RTÉ One's last episode and TV3's first episode was approximately three months. In 2015, UTV (the Northern Irish ITV Region holder) decided to buy the rights to ITV programming for the Republic of Ireland. It was broadcast on UTV Ireland (now Virgin Media Three) in 2015 and 2016, it was then moved back to TV3 (now known as Virgin Media one) when Virgin Media Ireland, the owners of the TV3 Group (now known as Virgin Media Television Ireland) bought UTV Ireland from ITV, following the sale of UTV to ITV a few months previously. Night repeats air on Virgin Media Two, with a weekend omnibus edition on Virgin Media Three.
The series has appeared in Sweden as Hem till gården ("Home to the Farm") since the 1970s – originally on TV2, and since 1994, on TV4. Two episodes are broadcast every weekday at 12:00. Emmerdale is the most-watched daytime non-news programme in Sweden, attracting from 150,000 to 200,000 viewers daily. Episodes are repeated overnight on TV4 and in prime time on digital channel TV4 Guld. Episodes originally aired in the UK in January 2019 were broadcast on TV4 in May 2019, making broadcast four months behind the original airing.
The programme appears in Finland on MTV3 on primetime, two episodes every weekday at 18:00 – 19:00, with repeats the following weekday morning. Episodes originally aired in the UK in August 2020 were broadcast in Finland in August 2021, making broadcasts 12 months behind the original airing. Emmerdale attracts an average of 200,000 to 250,000 viewers per episode, making it the most watched non-Finnish every-weekday program in Finnish television. Ratings have, however, declined in the past few years, previously being consecutively around 350,000 to 400,000 per episode.
Emmerdale is broadcast in New Zealand weekdays on ONE, with an hour-long episode Monday to Thursday and a half-hour episode on Friday from 12:30 to 13:00. It is the second-most-watched daytime programme, after the news. Episodes are broadcast a month behind ITV.
Emmerdale was broadcast in Australia for the first time in July 2006, when UKTV began airing the series with episode 4288. As of April 2016, episodes are broadcast 21 months behind the UK airings.
Emmerdale has been available to viewers in the United States of America via the BritBox streaming service since March 2017. New episodes typically appear on the service within five hours of their original broadcast in the UK.
- Peter Holmans (16 October 1972 – 21 August 1973)
- None Credited (1973–1975)
- David Cunliffe (17 November 1975 – 5 July 1979)
- Anne W. Gibbons (8 – 10 January 1989)
- Michael Glynn (15 January 1980 – 28 August 1986)
- Keith Richardson (2 September 1986 – 13 March 2009)
- Steve Frost (16 March 2009 – 31 December 2012)
- None Credited (2013–2018)
- Jane Hudson (25 December 2018 – present)
- David Goddard (16 October 1972 – 16 January 1973)
- Peter Holmans (22 January 1973 – 17 July 1973)
- Robert D. Cardona (23 July 1973 – 18 May 1976)
- Michael Glynn (3 January 1977 – 5 July 1979)
- Anne W Gibbons (8 January 1980 – 29 September 1983)
- Richard Handford (4 October 1983 – 28 August 1986)
- Michael Russell (2 September 1986 – 24 March 1988)
- Stuart Doughty (30 March 1988 – 31 December 1991)
- Morag Bain (2 January 1992 – 14 December 1993)
- Nicholas Prosser (16 December 1993 – 29 November 1994)
- Mervyn Watson (1 December 1994 – 6 August 1998)
- Kieran Roberts (11 August 1998 – 13 April 2001)
- Steve Frost (16 April 2001 – 25 February 2005)
- Kathleen Beedles (28 February 2005 – 29 February 2008)
- Anita Turner (3 March 2008 – 13 March 2009)
- Gavin Blyth (16 March 2009 – 8 April 2011)
- Stuart Blackburn (11 April 2011 – 4 April 2013)
- Kate Oates (4 April 2013 – 16 May 2016)
- Iain MacLeod (17 May 2016 − 13 August 2018)
- Kate Brooks (14 August 2018 – 24 December 2018)
- Kate Brooks (25 December 2018 – present)
- Laura Shaw (25 December 2018 – 11 January 2021)
- Sophie Roper (12 January 2021 – present)
Location shooting was originally filmed in the village of Arncliffe in Littondale, a quiet valley in the Yorkshire Dales. The Falcon, the village hotel, served as the fictional Woolpack Inn. When the filming location became public it was moved to the village of Esholt in 1976, where it remained for 22 years.
Filming returned to Esholt for a one off episode in 2016 for the Ashley Thomas dementia special which aired in December 2016. The location was used to represent Ashley's onset of dementia to the viewer.
The original Emmerdale Farm buildings are near the village of Leathley. Creskeld Hall, in Arthington, (Home Farm). The buildings are one of the few original filming locations used for the entire series, and have been involved in many storylines.
Construction of a purpose-built set began on the Harewood estate in 1996, and it has been used since 1997. The first scenes filmed on the set (the front of The Woolpack) were broadcast on 17 February 1998. The Harewood set is a replica of Esholt, with minor alterations.
The Harewood houses are timber-framed and stone-faced. The village is built on green-belt land, with its buildings classified as "temporary structures" which must be demolished within ten years unless new planning permission is received. There is no plan to demolish the set, and a new planning application has been drawn up. The set includes a church and churchyard, where the characters who have died on the series are buried.
Butlers Farm is Brookland Farm, a working farm in the nearby village of Eccup. Farmyard and building exteriors are filmed at Brookland, with interior house shots filmed in the studio.
Location filming is also done in the City of Leeds and other West Yorkshire locations; scenes set in the fictional market town of Hotten are currently filmed in Otley, and previously in Farsley. Benton Park School in Rawdon and the primary school in Farnley were also used for filming. Interiors are primarily filmed at Yorkshire Television's Emmerdale Production Centre in Leeds, next to Yorkshire's Leeds Studios. As of 28 March 2011, HD-capable studios in the ITV Studios building were used for most of the interior scenes.
Four farms have been featured on Emmerdale over the years:
|"Original" Emmerdale Farm||1972–1993||Belonged to the Sugden family for many years, until subsidence forced them to move.||Lindley House|
|Hawthorn Cottage||1993–1997||Matt and Peggy's former home, the second Emmerdale Farm, was sold and converted into a quarry.||Bank Side Farm|
|Melby Farm||1997–2002||A third Emmerdale Farm went bankrupt, and Jack moved into Annie's old cottage (Tenant's Cottage) in the village.||Burden Head Farm|
|Butler’s Farm||2003–present||Acquired by Andy Sugden and Katie Addyman in 2003 before the Bartons took over in 2009.||Brookland Farm|
Emmerdale's first sponsor (from 14 December 1999 to 20 February 2002) was Daz detergent, followed by Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Heinz salad cream from May 2003 to May 2005, a deal that cost Heinz £10 million. Reckitt Benckiser took over until 2009 in another £10 million deal, advertising Calgon, Air Wick, Veet, and Lemsip. After reports of Littlewoods pulling out of a two-year deal, Tombola Bingo underwrote the show from November 2009 to March 2012, followed by Bet365 Bingo until March 2014. McCain Foods began a two-year £8 million sponsorship on 7 April 2014. Then on 15 April 2020, the People's Postcode Lottery took over as sponsor of the programme.
As of 2020, an average Emmerdale episode generally attracts 6–7 million viewers. During the 1990s, the series had an average of 10–11 million viewers per episode. On 30 December 1993, Emmerdale had its largest-ever audience of 18 million when a plane crashed into the village. On 27 May 1997, 13 million viewers saw Frank Tate die of a heart attack after the return of wife Kim. On 20 October 1998, 12.5 million viewers saw The Woolpack explode after a fire. Kim Tate's departure from the show on 19 January 1999 was watched by nearly 15 million viewers.
The village storm on 1 January 2004 attracted 11.19 million viewers. 18 May 2004 episode in which Jack Sugden was shot by his adopted son, Andy, attracted 8.27 million viewers. On 17 March 2005, 9.39 million watched Shelly Williams fall from the Isle of Arran ferry. Zoe Tate left the show after 16 years on 22 September 2005 before 8.58 million viewers, marking her departure by blowing up Home Farm. On 13 July 2006, the Kings River house collapse was seen by 6.90 million viewers. Sadie King and Cain Dingle left on 21 September 2006, before an audience of 8.57 million viewers. On Christmas Day 2006, 7.69 million saw Tom King murdered on his wedding day. Billy Hopwood crashed his truck into a lake on 1 February 2007, attracting 8.15 million viewers. The end of the "Who Killed Tom King?" storyline on 17 May 2007, had an audience of 8.92 million.
On 14 January 2010, 9.96 million saw Mark Wylde shot dead by wife Natasha. Natasha's 27 October confession to daughter Maisie attracted an audience of nearly 8 million. On 13 January 2011, 9.15 million saw a fire kill Viv Hope and Terry Woods. The live 40th-anniversary episode on 17 October 2012, drew an audience of 8.83 million. On 16 October 2013, 8.15 million watched Cameron Murray take the occupants of The Woolpack hostage and shoot Alicia. The next day, 7.65 million viewers saw Cameron die.