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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Emmerdale celebrates 30 years
Emmerdale
Jack Sugden (actor Clive Hornby) has been in the series from the start
ITV1 soap Emmerdale is celebrating 30 years on screen on Wednesday with two special programmes.

On Wednesday - the date on which the anniversary falls - viewers will be taken for a trip down memory lane as a specially commissioned documentary charts the highs and lows of the series.

It will be followed on Thursday by an extended hour-long episode of the five times a week drama to showcase the wedding of characters Marlon and Tricia.

The programmes are the climax of a festivities marking the anniversary of the popular early evening soap.

TV soap Emmerdale
The village drama has spiced up its storylines

Emmerdale, set in the heart of the Yorkshire dales in the north of England, was once populated overwhelmingly by welly-wearing farmers.

It started as Emmerdale Farm, a quaint daytime rural drama tossed around the schedules by different ITV companies.

Now, Emmerdale is one of the network's stalwart shows, with a younger cosmopolitan cast and lifestyle.

Its ratings are also healthy, averaging 10 million viewers, making it the strongest fixture in the early evening schedule - helped by a move towards dramatic storylines.

The birthday documentary recalls some of most gripping from the show's 3,288 episodes, and introduces characters past and present.

Explosive

Running up to the 30th anniversary, the highlight of the year had been a special visit to the set near Leeds by the Queen.

The Queen on the set of Emmerdale
The Queen watches the post office explosion

The royal occasion was also part of the Queen's itinerary of appointments to mark her Golden Jubilee.

The Queen was given an explosive reception during her visit.

The fictional village post office in the series was blown up as part of a dramatic storyline.

However, the year has also seen its measure of controversy when Emmerdale bosses dumped the winners of the Soapstars TV show who won parts in the series.

The five wannabe actors were chosen from thousands to become the newest family in the soap, with the auditions shown as part of an ITV1 talent search.

The news of their departure followed expressions of anger from the acting union Equity.

The union saw the manner in which they were appointed as a cheap gimmick to put Emmerdale in the spotlight.

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