|Portrayed by||Chris Chittell|
|First appearance||30 September 1986|
|Created by||Michael Russell|
Eric Charles Pollard is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Chris Chittell, who has appeared in the show since 1986. Following the death of Richard Thorp, who played Alan Turner, Eric became the programme's longest-running current character. He is also serving as the second longest running character in the history of the show.
For many years, the character served as the show's villain, but this has been noticeably toned down in recent years, particularly since Eric's marriage to Val Lambert and the introduction of his long-lost illegitimate son, David Metcalfe, in 2006, and later a foster daughter, Amy Wyatt. He has also been featured in a number of storylines, including his dodgy dealings, marriage to Elizabeth Feldmann, his mysterious whereabouts on the night of the Emmerdale plane crash, marriage to Thai student Dee de la Cruz (which later leaves him near suicidal]], running for council, rocky marriage to Gloria Weaver, his on-off relationship (later marriage) with Val, the return of Michael Feldmann & the truth about the plane crash and supporting Val after discovering she has HIV. He has also developed many feud over the years, notably with the Dingle family and Rodney Blackstock.
Eric Pollard was born on 11 June 1945.
He married his first wife, Eileen, in 1964. He left her but they never divorced. He also changed his name to Eric Pollard. In 1981, he had an affair with Lydia Holloway, resulting in a son, David (Matthew Wolfenden), whose existence Eric would not discover until 2006.
Eric arrives in Emmerdale (formerly called Beckindale) in September 1986 and immediately annoys Sandie Merrick (Jane Hutcheson), whose mother died in a car accident just weeks before. He makes himself very unpopular, even threatening Sandie with a poker whilst drunk. Eric quickly becomes the villain of the show and is involved in a variety of illegal schemes, often with his equally crooked business associate, Charlie Aindow (David Fleeshman), who he meets in 1990.
There is little romance in Eric's life until 1992 when he and Elizabeth Feldmann (Kate Dove) start dating. The relationship surprises many in the village, as two years before, Eric bought the Feldmanns' repossessed farm at a knockdown price. Elizabeth's son, Michael (Matthew Vaughan) is particularly upset but Elizabeth ignores his objections and accepts Eric's proposal, marrying him that September. However, the marriage soon turns sour, and when Elizabeth discovers Eric has framed Michael for cheque fraud, she tells him she will be going to the police. On 30 December 1993, Eric goes to Demdyke Farm, where Elizabeth is looking after her granddaughter, Alice Bates, and threatens her not to go to the police. However, Elizabeth is determined and leaves the house with Eric following. Moments later, an aeroplane crashes into Emmerdale village and Elizabeth's body is recovered soon afterwards. Michael is convinced Eric murdered his mother and is determined to prove it. However, when he knocks Eric unconscious during a heated argument, Michael panics, thinking he has killed him and leaves the village. With Michael gone, speculation about Elizabeth's death dies down but never goes away completely. Meanwhile, his first wife Eileen comes to Emmerdale, having heard about Elizabeth's death and threatens to expose Eric as a bigamist. Knowing this would cost him Elizabeth's estate, Eric agrees to pay Eileen off in return for a divorce and her silence.
Despite his reputation for dodgy business deals, Eric persuades Kathy Glover (Malandra Burrows) to go into business with him and turns her tea rooms into a wine bar at night. When he goes to the Philippines over Christmas 1996, Eric shocks everyone by returning with a young fiancée. Diwata Margharita, better known as Dee De la Cruz and Eric get married, despite a backlash when Rachel Hughes (Glenda McKay) discovers Dee was a mail-order bride. Dee is surprisingly keen to make the marriage work, convincing Eric that they should put their energy into the business. But Dee grows tired of Eric's business woes and paranoia that she will be unfaithful, particularly after she makes friends with Will Cairns (Paul Fox), who is much closer to her own age. Dee decides to go home, leaving Eric suicidal, but helped by Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock), Eric recovers from his heartbreak.
In 2000, Eric saves the life of his friend and colleague, Kathy. Suspecting that her boyfriend, Graham Clark (Kevin Pallister), has murdered his fiancée Rachel, Eric voices his worries, but the whole village doubts him. When he rescues Kathy, he proves to be a hero. In the aftermath, journalists appear in Kathy's Diner, wanting information from the villagers about Graham. Sarah Sugden confronts Pollard about why he didn't warn her there were journalists there, but Pollard verbally attacks her in front of the residents, angrily asking her why should he have told her when she and the "rest of [them]" never believed him about Graham in the first place.
Eric meets Gloria Weaver in 2001. Gloria pushed him to become mayor and, when on their wedding night in 2002, she encourages him to sleep with councillor Glynis to secure her nomination for the post. When the scandal breaks, thanks to Steph Forsythe (Lorraine Chase), Gloria twists things so she looks like the wronged wife and takes the job, despite the fact it is in Westminster. While away, Gloria has an affair with Hilary, her male researcher. When the fling is exposed, Eric is horrified and throws her out. In despair, Gloria leaves the village drunk and only her car and shoes are found later. Convinced she is dead, Eric grieves for her until a few months later when he receives a videotape of her sipping a cocktail in the sun, revealing that she faked her death in order to clean out Pollard's bank account undetected.
After many disastrous marriages and relationships, Eric finally meets his match in troublemaker Val Lambert (Charlie Hardwick). The sparky duo go into business together and let their romance flourish but politics comes between them. When he decides to run for re-election, Eric realises that having a woman like Val as his partner could spoil his chances, so they claim to have split. They plan to reunite after the election, but Eric gets carried away in his dismissal of Val and she dumps him. However, the pair continue to work together and it is clear they still had feelings for each other. Eric is horrified when he finds out that Val is running against him and any attempt at a reconciliation will be in vain. However, when she realises the damage she is doing to his campaign, Val tries to sabotage her own by admitting her shady past. Eric is touched by the gesture, but horrified that she is still doing better than him. Things worsen when he gets tangled up with a local dominatrix; however, despite competition from Val's ex-brother-in-law (and former lover), Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower), he still manages to win. Eric soon reverts to old ways once he is back in office, taking bribes from Jimmy King (Nick Miles).
In late 2006, David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) shows up in Emmerdale, believing Eric to be his biological father. Eric knew nothing of David until he turned up in the village and their relationship doesn't start well. David blames Eric for his late mother Lydia Holloway's financial troubles. Eric didn't seem to care about what David had been through and also implies David's mother had loose morals. After David hits him, Eric is determined to prove David is lying about his paternity. Eric conducts a secret DNA test which suggested that David isn't his son but the test proves to be faulty. A second test confirms that Eric is David's biological father. In 2007 David and his girlfriend Delilah Dingle (Hayley Tamaddon) secretly embezzle £20,000 of Eric's funds in revenge for money Eric once took from Lydia. After Eric discovers David's scheme, father and son agree to put the past behind them.
In 2007, Donna Windsor-Dingle (Verity Rushworth) and Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) finally have the opportunity to get their dream home. Eric plans to bid too but Eli (Joseph Gilgun) and Sam Dingle (James Hooton) stop him by tying him up and gagging him. Eric is rescued by his son, David, who is amused by what he sees. On 17 December 2007, Eric is driving with Val when he accidentally crashes into another car. The woman driving, Rosalind, instantly fancies him. She reveals she is married and then tries to seduce him. Eric refuses and rushes to the Woolpack where he proposes to Val and she accepts. Three months later, Eric discovers Rosalind is married to one of his business partners. They go to a hotel together, and when they leave (nothing has happened between them) Rosalind passionately kisses Eric, unaware someone is taking photographs of them from behind a bush. The next morning, Rosalind turns up at Val's Interiors and tells Eric she'd received a blackmail letter, with photos of them kissing, demanding £5000 for the blackmailer's silence. They are instructed to leave the money in a phone box in Hotten. Eric manages to get the £5000 but is still blackmailed. At one point he suspects his son, David, but then realises his mistake. On 5 May 2008, Eric finds out that Rosalind was the blackmailer.
In the episode "What Price Love?", aired on 3 June 2008, Eric and Val marry in a surprise ceremony coinciding with the final of the Pub of the Year Competition, and Emmerdale's 5000th Episode. Eric cannot afford the wedding Val wanted so he convinces her family to go along with a surprise wedding which will take place after the Pub of the Year competition. Val is kidnapped by the Dingles and overhears Eric's true plans. When Eric comes to rescue her, they have a furious row and the Dingles dump them in the village. After some thought, Val does marry Eric. After their marriage, they argue frequently but always make up. Eric sinks deeper and deeper into debt, even asking David to borrow money from Val. When Val finally learns about his problems, she persuades the Kings to buy the factory, suggesting they turn it into luxury apartments. Eric lets the staff go without telling them of his plans and tells Sam that he wished the factory could go up in smoke. Thinking Eric is serious, Sam, Eli and Gennie Walker set the factory on fire. Assisted by Val and his staff, Eric moves the factory to the B & B, where he hires some rooms.
Worried about Leyla Harding's (Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi) constant requests for overtime, Eric tries convincing David that she is a gold digger. David believes him, and as a result, nearly loses her. David moves out of his father's house and, backed by Edna Birch (Shirley Stelfox) and Alan Turner (Richard Thorp), decides to run for Eric's council seat. Eric is working with Nathan Wylde (Lyndon Ogbourne) to close a public footpath, and Nathan begins applying more and more pressure as the campaign continues, causing Eric to have a heart attack. He keeps it from David but when he learns the truth, they reconcile as the election returns come in. To David's shock, he wins. Eric is relieved to no longer have the pressure but struggles to cope with having so much free time so he starts giving David advice. Edna, however, resents his interference and makes him think David feels only pity for him. So he starts thinking of neighbourhood improvement plans to steal David's thunder.
Eric's focus on political and family concerns only exacerbates the damage the recession has done to his business and orders drop dramatically. He decides to close the factory and sell the sewing equipment but is horrified to find that Val and the Dingles stole the machinery and sold it, using the money as redundancy payments. Eric plans to open a funeral parlour but the locals protest and David convinces him it would be too expensive. He then begins looking for a job, without luck, until Val hears that Louise Appleton (Emily Symons) wants to sell her share of the B&B. Terry Woods (Billy Hartman) receives a loan to buy her out but gives the cash to his girlfriend, Brenda Walker (Lesley Dunlop), instead to help her with financial difficulties. Terry isn't pleased to discover that Val and Eric bought Louise's share, especially when they expect him to do all the work. They soon realise what hard work running a B&B can be and wanting to make their mark on the place, suggest opening a restaurant. Terry agrees cautiously and is also persuaded to hire Sam's "friend", Olena, as a maid - thinking she is Polish and merely wants money to fund her travels.
In 2010, Eric receives letters, messages and cards, claiming to be from his dead wife, Elizabeth. Amy Wyatt (Chelsea Halfpenny), Eric and Val's foster daughter, is the original suspect, but it was revealed on 30 December that the messages had actually been sent by Elizabeth's son, Michael. Michael, who was in and out of jail for years, confronts Eric at Elizabeth's grave and later follows Eric back to The Grange, where he threatened to tell Eric's current wife, Val, about his past. Michael leaves initially, but later tells Amy that he wants Eric to pay him a large sum of money or he will reveal Eric to be a murderer. Eric tells Michael that he will pay him and they get into Eric's car but instead he drives Michael to a remote area. After an argument, Eric produces a tyre iron and threatens Michael. The result of the incident is not revealed as Eric returns alone, appearing on edge, and tells Val that he has given Michael a lift to the station. Eric finally reveals the truth to Val - Elizabeth had been killed by falling debris in the plane crash, but he had followed her out of the house that night and considered killing her. Val is initially horrified; however, when Michael returns on 4 January to confront Eric again, Val reveals she obtained a copy of the coroner's report, which states that Elizabeth was killed by falling debris. Val suggests Michael must have seen the report too, telling him it is time to stop blaming Eric. He agrees and after a calm discussion, Eric persuades Michael to take the money he asked for anyway and use it to start again. Michael then leaves the village.
When Val and Eric discover that Amy had a baby and they hadn't known she was pregnant, they forgive her for keeping it a secret and they discuss Amy's suggestion of putting the baby, named Kyle, up for adoption. Val is against the idea but Eric tells Amy that he will support her, regardless of what decision she makes. Val isn't happy with Eric's choice to defend Amy and despite her doubts, Kyle is adopted and Amy is not allowed any contact with him. Val forgives Amy, but blames Eric for not backing her up and goes to visit her son. Eric begins drinking heavily and gets frustrated with the guests staying at the B&B. Amy and Eric receive a message from Val instructing them to pick her up at the airport the next day. When they arrive, Val isn't there as she's decided to stay with a friend with no word on when or even if she is returning. Amy tries her hardest to keep running the B&B, but Eric argues with a guest who is celebrating their birthday at the B&B and they get a bad review. Diane tells Eric and Amy that Val may not return to the village and that she has also emptied their bank account, indicating that she has no plans to return. After weeks of hoping Eric will come to his senses, Amy snaps and stands up to him, but he sacks her and Victoria from the B&B. After a long discussion with Amy, he reinstates her and Victoria and sobers up. Eric makes friends with and later starts dating Brenda, which makes him happy, but it displeases Amy until David talks her round. While having dinner with Brenda, Amy, and other guests, Val suddenly returns and wonders what is happening. She thought she'd be welcomed with open arms, but Eric asks his guests to leave before he and Amy have a massive argument with Val over her abandoning them. Later, Eric is forced to choose between Brenda and Val, and after some advice from his son and Amy, Eric chooses Brenda despite admitting he still feels a spark with Val. Eventually, Brenda and Eric break up and he begins his relationship and business partnership with Val again. After Rodney becomes a gigolo, he takes a woman out, but is horrified when her husband comes to find him in the Woolpack. Rodney lies and tells the husband that it was Eric and the man finds Eric and punches him in the face. To get his own back on Rodney, Eric fakes his own death and Val comes to the cafe to ask Rodney help her with the body, but Eric opens his eyes just as Rodney walks over to him.
In 2014, Eric is shocked when Val reveals that she had a fling while she was in Portugal. Unknown to Eric, but Val's lover is HIV positive, and he may have given Val the virus. When Eric begins to fall ill, Val panics and she thinks she has passed the virus onto him, but he is fine, and has only got mild flu. Eric recovers, but is furious when he witnesses Val leaving her lover's car and ends their marriage. While they're on a break from one another, Eric has sex with Val's sister, Diane (Elizabeth Estensen). They both regret it, but Diane is horrified to learn that Val may be HIV positive, and begins taking medication to fight the virus, although she doesn't know whether she has got it or not. Val finally comes clean to Eric about the HIV, and he accompanies her to the hospital for the tests, and has one done himself. The results come through; Eric is negative, while Val is diagnosed as being HIV positive. This devastates the couple. While Val is watching films with Diane, she inadvertently lets slip about her and Eric's one-night stand, which leads to Val forcefully throwing the pair out of the house and her breaking down. The next day, Eric arrives to apologize to Val, but she sees red and throws a bottle of whisky at him, leading to him cutting his head. Val then humiliates Eric and Diane in The Woolpack by revealing their one-night stand to the regulars. When Val gets drunk with Kerry Wyatt (Laura Norton), they both fall over, although Val cuts her knee. Eric and Victoria rush to help, and Val is distraught when Eric must wear gloves to treat her wound.