Jack Sugden

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Jack Sugden
Jack Sudgen.png
Clive Hornby as Jack Sugden (2007)
Emmerdale character
Portrayed by Andrew Burt (1972–73, 1976)
Clive Hornby (1980–2008)
Duration 1972–73, 1976, 1980–2008
First appearance 16 October 1972
Last appearance 21 February 2008
Created by Kevin Laffan
Introduced by David Goddard (1972)
Michael Glynn (1976)
Anne Gibbons (1980)
Book appearances
Classification Former; regular
Occupation Farmer (1972–2008)
Barman (2004–08)
Pub landlord (2004–08)
Jack Sugden 1972.jpg
Andrew Burt as Jack Sugden (1972)

John Jacob "Jack" Sugden is a long running fictional character in the British television soap opera Emmerdale. The character was originally played by Andrew Burt from 1972 to 1973 with a brief return in 1976, when he left for Italy to write a book. On his return in 1980 he was played by Clive Hornby. Hornby stayed in the role until 2008 when he was forced to take a break from Emmerdale due to illness. His last on-screen appearance was on 21 February 2008, and his absence was explained by the character visiting his mother, Annie Sugden in Spain. Hornby died of the illness without returning to the series. Jack Sugden is the third longest running character in the history of Emmerdale.


Jacob and Annie Sugden’s son Jack is one of the original characters in Emmerdale. The Sugden family were the owners of Emmerdale Farm from the programme's early days. Jack and his younger siblings, Peggy Skilbeck and Joe all worked on the farm.

From the early days, Jack seems to be a very rebellious and self-righteous character, who cares little for others' views. He also has numerous flings with different women and failed marriages, due to his infidelity. Jack is also an intelligent and articulate man but shown to be secretive from his family too. As time passed and Jack became a father, he has matured much more. He has firmly secured his roots in farming, which he originally tried so hard to escape from. Jack is still a man of principles and of pride, which can sometimes be his biggest weakness


Jack Sugden was born in 1947 at Emmerdale Farm in Beckindale. He left the village in the spring of 1964 after a row with father Jacob over intensive farming, wanting to see more of the world than Beckindale, and went to London. He had unknowingly got his childhood sweetheart Ruth Harker pregnant. She married local thug Tom Merrick that year and tricked him into thinking that the baby was his. In October 1972, Jack heard his father had died and this brought him back to Beckindale for the show's opening episode.



After Jack heard about his father's death, he returned to Beckindale and went to the Woolpack where a surprised Amos Brearly served him. Jack looked over the dales and the farm while his family were at Jacob's funeral. His mother, Annie, was not pleased with Jack but let him stay.

When the will was read, the family were horrified to hear that Jacob had left the farm to Jack. Jack's sister, Peggy Skilbeck, was annoyed as she felt the family had done all the work while Jack was in London, and for a while, Peggy was bitter towards Jack. Jack, Joe and Peggy's husband, Matt Skilbeck, ran the farm. Peggy, however, was suspicious about Jack's time in London. Joe followed him to The Feathers Hotel where there was a reservation for a Mrs Sugden.

At the same time, Jack and Joe were interested in Marian Wilks, daughter of local businessman, Henry Wilks. Henry preferred Joe as he taught Marian how to fish but Annie accused Marian of playing them off against each other. Jack insisted Marian put Joe straight as he was trying to learn more so he could impress her. Eventually Jack and Marian got together but Marian demanded to know who he had met at the hotel, as her father had seen them. Jack explained that she was his common-law wife, Lynn, whom he had lived with in London and that they were discussing a divorce settlement as if they had been an actual married couple. Trouble for the young couple came in the form of Ruth and Tom Merrick. Jack hired Tom as a farmhand but Matt complained Tom was lazy and hardly did any work so Jack fired Tom but he had some information that threatened Jack and Marian's relationship. Merrick blackmailed Jack and said if he insisted on firing him, he would tell Marian the truth about his and Ruth's son, Jackie. Tom became suspicious about Jackie's true paternity after realising that Jackie looked very like Jack and that Jackie's full name was John Jacob. He knew Ruth and Jack had had a relationship that ended just before Jackie was born and when Jack went to London, she married Tom. Jack, however, refused to be blackmailed and didn't know if Jackie was his son and fired Tom. Marian found out and a strain was put on their relationship. Ruth and Tom left Beckindale.

The Sugden family were curious about Jack's newfound wealth and discovered that Jack had written a successful book. Marian was curious about Jack's novel and borrowed a copy from his school friend, Frank Blakey. Marian thought it was good but wasn't impressed with the sexist views in it. Jack battled with Henry Wilks over a piece of land Harry Jameson, an old friend of Jacob Sugden, was selling. Harry was trying to get them to boost their offers but Jack knew he needed the money quickly and Harry accepted Jack's offer. Jack planned to move into the old mill on the land and do it up. He consulted a solicitor and arranged for the Farm to be given to Annie, Joe, Peggy and their grandfather, Annie's father, Sam Pearson but Sam did not want the responsibility and sold his share to Henry.


After Peggy's death from a brain hemorrhage, Jack went to Italy in October 1973, a year after returning and returned in May 1976 as he was suffering from writer's block and after some words of wisdom from Annie, he left the dales once again. He returned in February 1980 and vowed to stay for good as he wanted to settle down.

Clive Hornby as Jack Sugden after the recast and when he returned in 1980.

In October 1982, Jack married his childhood sweetheart, Pat Merrick, previously known as Ruth, now a single mother. Unknown to Jack, Jackie was indeed his son and when the truth came out, it put a lot of strain on their marriage. Further pressure was added when Jack had an affair with local newspaper reporter, Karen Moore. When Pat found out, she demanded he choose between her and Karen and Jack chose Pat, wanting to make his marriage work but Pat died in a car crash in August 1986, leaving Jack to bring up their baby son, Robert alone. Jack concentrated on his family for a while and only started dating again when he met mobile librarian, Sarah Connolly, in 1988. They moved in together in 1990 although not before Sarah boarded up the connecting door to the farmhouse to stop Annie wandering in. Jack wanted to marry Sarah and proposed annually but she always turned him down, as she did not want to be a farmer's wife.

1993 was a big year for Jack as the Emmerdale farmhouse was collapsing from subsidence so the Sugdens had to move out after 140 years, upsetting Annie who insisted the new farm be named Emmerdale. Jack was upset when Annie became engaged to Leonard Kempinski whom she had met on holiday but they reconciled before Annie and Leonard married in October. In December, Jack was a hero during the plane crash when he and Frank Tate rebuilt the collapsed bridge so the emergency services could cross. Jack's mother, Annie, and brother, Joe, were injured in the disaster and Annie was in a coma. 1994 was equally eventful as Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Victoria, and Victoria's crying brought Annie out of her coma. Sarah and Jack married in May and Beckindale was renamed Emmerdale in honour of the Sugden family.

In June 1995, Jack was devastated by Joe's death in a car crash in Spain shortly after the family visited him and Annie. Jack brought Joe's body back to the village for burial. As Joe lay in wake at the farm, Jack broke down in tears by his brother's coffin and was unable to attend the funeral as he was suffering from a bad back.

In late 1996, Frank Tate was pressuring the Sugdens to sell the farm for easier access to a quarry. Annie returned to persuade Jack to sell but Jack refused but in early 1997, the family were evicted and moved to a new farm. The pressure of trying to keep the farm afloat put considerable strain on the marriage and Jack had a brief affair with Sarah’s friend, Rachel Tate. Although it looked like their marriage was working, following their adoption of troubled schoolboy Andy Hopwood, Sarah and Jack were at loggerheads again in 1999, following Rachel's death as Jack still had feelings for her and he had found her body after she went missing. Sarah was determined not to be a traditional farmer's wife and she and Jack disagreed over how to run the farm particularly when Jack insisted Robert and Andy work on the farm rather than go to school. Money worries didn't help either, as their solution was to take in a lodger, Scott Windsor's school friend, Richie Carter. Feeling neglected by Jack, Sarah had an affair with Richie in 2000 and left Jack. Incensed, Jack refused Sarah access to the children and, despite winning custody of Victoria, she considered returning but Richie took Sarah into the barn to try and convince her to leave the area with him and Victoria. Whilst they were in there, Andy, thinking the barn was empty, started a fire so Jack could claim on the insurance, and Sarah was killed. Jack was arrested for Sarah's murder, due to Richie's testimony, believing Jack had started the fire but Andy admitted to Richie that he was responsible and begged him to change his statement to clear Jack's name. Richie, unable to face sending a young boy to jail, agreed and the case collapsed, leaving the Sugdens to try and rebuild their lives. Standing by Jack, throughout the ordeal, was Woolpack landlady Diane Blackstock. The couple started dating but their relationship was hesitant.

In 2004, when Andy discovered Robert's affair with his wife, Katie, he waited for Robert in his caravan with a shotgun, intending to shoot him but accidentally shot Jack instead. Having almost died, Jack initially disowned Andy but they eventually reconciled and Jack and Diane planned to marry but she revealed that she had colon cancer and underwent chemotherapy. The couple married and enjoyed a honeymoon in Las Vegas while Diane was on the mend.

Jack was shocked to discover that Andy had a baby daughter, Sarah, with teenager Debbie Dingle, but supported Andy when he said he wanted to be a hands-on father, impressed with how responsible Andy had become. However in October 2005, Robert's revenge on Andy for killing his adoptive mother was to leave the village with Debbie and baby Sarah but Debbie, struggling with motherhood, left Sarah with the Dingles. She thought they would go alone but Robert told her the truth and dumped her. Furious, Robert ran Andy's landrover off the road, wanting to kill him, but Andy escaped with cuts and bruises while his passenger, Max King, was killed. Jack arrived at the scene seconds after the accident and was relieved to see that his sons were alive but was horrified to learn what the cause of the accident was and wanting to protect Robert from prison, he told him to leave the village. Robert did so and Jack never saw his son again. More trauma followed when Debbie gave Sarah to Emily Kirk, who left the village. Andy and Jack were devastated and their attempts to get her back failed.

Meanwhile, Jack was becoming infuriated by the Kings' business practices. Although a fragile truce was called after Max’s death, when Jack convinced Tom King, Max's father, not to evict Andy from Butler's Farm in revenge, he continued to oppose them. Jack was also forced to take in Andy’s half-brother, Daz Eden. Daz and Jack disapproved of Andy reconciling with his estranged wife, Katie. However, Diane was still recovering from her cancer and felt unable to cope with two teenagers in the house and insisted that Daz and Andy reconcile and Daz return to Butler's Farm. Daz realised this and agreed to leave but went to live with his mother, Denise, and her new boyfriend. Jack was saddened to see Daz leave but he soon returned after his mother's boyfriend had hit him and Denise insisted Daz be the one to apologise. Horrified by Denise's behaviour, Jack and Diane fostered him as he and Sarah had fostered Andy. In 2007, Billy Hopwood, Andy and Daz's real father, was released from prison and returned to Emmerdale and not only refused Jack permission to adopt Daz but demanded access, much to Jack's anger. He felt Billy would be a bad influence as he had let down his sons, due to his previous criminality, and told him to stay away but Billy was determined. After Diane comforted him, they embarked on an affair but Diane, feeling guilty, confessed to Jack. Jack was unable to forgive Diane and they separated.

Back at the house, Jack told his children about Diane and Billy's affair. Victoria was distraught and blamed herself, visiting Billy and telling him that he had destroyed her family but he said Jack wasn't a saint and implied he was responsible for her mother's death. Wanting more information, Victoria tracked down Sarah's lover, Richie Carter, who told her that Jack was not responsible but she did not believe him. On returning to the village, Victoria stole some petrol from the garage and took it home. When Jack and Andy returned, they could smell the petrol fumes and discovered Victoria threatening to set it alight until they told her the truth about Sarah's death. Andy admitted starting the fire and killing Sarah and in shock, Victoria ran upstairs, tripped over and banged her head. She was lying on her bed bleeding, when Jack and Andy found her. Jack got a flannel to clean her up but accidentally lit the petrol fumes when he turned on the hot tap, causing a massive explosion and the house caught fire. Billy saved Andy and Jack, assisted by Matthew King. Jack was on crutches for several weeks while he recovered from his injuries.

After Andy was arrested and imprisoned for Sarah's manslaughter, Jack attended his wedding to Jo Stiles in the prison chapel. On 21 February 2008, Jack went to Spain to look after his mother, as she was ill, covering actor Clive Hornby taking sick leave. Whilst Jack was in Spain, Diane received a text message suggesting that they patch things up on his return. Andy visited Jack and Annie in the summer. Following Hornby's death in July 2008, the decision was made to kill the character off and he died off-screen on 5 February 2009. Victoria and Daz were planning to visit Jack at half term when Annie phoned The Woolpack to inform the family of Jack's death from a heart attack, leaving his loved ones devastated. Diane brought Jack's body back from Spain while Val and Eric Pollard arranged his funeral. Jack was buried in the village churchyard on 10 February 2009 next to his father Jacob, his brother Joe, his sister Peggy, his wives, Pat and Sarah, his son Jackie, and his nephew and niece, Sam and Sally. Andy, Daz, Sam and Zak Dingle were pallbearers.

Just before the service, a reference was made by Alan Turner during a conversation with Betty Eagleton to when Jack had told him how he had returned to the village in 1972 for his own father's funeral. Diane read a letter Jack had written for Andy, Victoria, Daz and Robert during the service, telling them that he loved them and wanted them to live together as a family and revealed that he knew in his last weeks that he would not live to see the village or his family again as he realized he was suffering from very badly declining health. Andy broke down in tears and fled the church so Rodney Blackstock acted as pallbearer in his place. As Jack's coffin was buried, Diane placed his chequered cap onto the coffin. Andy met Robert who was watching from a distance and drove away. Robert later visited the grave to say goodbye to his father and laid a flower. That afternoon, Val put a framed photo of Jack up next to the pictures of Amos Brearly and Henry Wilks in The Woolpack.

After a conversation with Annie, Andy decided to take over as head of the family as Jack wanted. Annie also gave Diane a letter that Jack had written in which he said he knew they would never see each other again and he wished that they had had the chance to get back together. Andy, Diane, Daz and Victoria then went to the grave that night to say a last goodbye. As they walked away, Diane looked back and saw a vision of Jack next to the grave. He smiled at her and she smiled back and realised that Jack would always be with her and the children and would be looking down on them. Throughout the episode Diane, Andy and Robert all recalled their memories of Jack in flashbacks. The hour-long episode was dedicated to the memory of Clive Hornby.

In October 2012, Jack's adoptive son Andy named his newborn son with Debbie after Jack, meaning that there is once again a Jack Sugden in Emmerdale.

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