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|Portrayed by||Christopher Chittell|
|First appearance||30 September 1986|
|Created by||Michael Russell|
Eric Charles Pollard (also Pollock) is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Chris Chittell, who has appeared in the show since 30 September 1986. He is currently the longest-serving character in the soap after the exit of Alan Turner, and second longest-serving character in the history of the serial. 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.
Introduced originally for a 12 episode stint, Eric became a popular character amongst viewers for his villainous ways and mistreatment of others. Although the character would leave disappear and then reappear again for long periods of time during his early years on the programme, by the time that the soap had redeveloped itself following the infamous Emmerdale plane crash, Eric was a regular character. He has been married five times: to Eileen Pollock in 1964, Elizabeth Feldmann in 1992 (although the marriage was bigamous), Dee de la Cruz in 1997, Gloria Weaver in 2002 and Val in 2008. Out of those five marriages, he has been divorced three times and widowed twice by Elizabeth and Val respectively in December 1993 and August 2015. Eric is also known for his various feuds, which has resulted in him being punched by over 30 different characters in his 31-year stint on the programme, many of them members of the notorious Dingle family.
Eric Pollock was born on 11 June 1945. He married his first wife, Eileen (Arbel Jones), in 1964. He left her but they never divorced. He also changed his name to Eric Pollard so that the chances of Eileen tracking him down were minimal. 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). He makes himself very unpopular, even threatening Sandie with a poker when drunk. Eric quickly becomes the villain of the show and is involved in a number of illegal schemes, often with his crooked business associate, Charlie Aindow (David Fleeshman). In 1987, he loses his position as manager of Hotten Market thanks to Sandie, and he is dismissed. This occurred when Sandie finds that he is fiddling the accounts. Eric launched a hate campaign against Sandie by breaking into Mill Cottage where she lives. In April 1987, Eric again breaks into Mill Cottage and threatened Sandie with a poker whilst drunk. In June 1987, he befriends Marian Rosettii (Debbie Blyth) and her husband Paolo and tries to burgle their house, of which Paolo chases him. Paolo accidentally shoots himself with a gun but never finds out it was Eric who was the thief. Once Eric finds out Paolo had been taken to hospital after being shot he leaves Beckindale for a few months. Upon his return, Eric applies for his old job as an auctioneer but loses out to Sandie, starting another feud.
In 1990, Eric finds romance with Debbie Wilson (Debbie Arnold) and they soon become engaged. However, Debbie turns the tables on Eric when she leaves with £2,000 and valuable goods that Eric gave to her to start an antiques shop, to which he intended to divert goods from Hotten Market. Unfortunately the money wasn't Eric's, it belonged to Charlie. Following Debbie, there was little romance in Eric's life until 1991 when he and Elizabeth Feldmann (Kate Dove) started dating. The relationship surprised many in the village, as two years before, Eric bought the Feldmanns' farm at a reduced price. Elizabeth's son, Michael (Matthew Vaughan) was particularly upset but Elizabeth ignored him and accepted Eric's proposal, marrying him on 6 October 1992. However, the marriage soon turned sour and when Elizabeth discovered Eric had framed Michael for fraud, she told him that she would be going to the police. On 30 December 1993, Eric went to Demdyke Farm and threatened her to keep quiet. However, Elizabeth was determined and left the house and Eric followed her. Moments later, a plane crashed onto Beckindale and Elizabeth was killed along with several other local residents. Michael was convinced that Eric murdered his mother and became determined to prove it. However, after knocking Eric out during a heated argument, Michael panicked. Thinking he had killed him, Michael left the village in June 1994 and consequently gossip about Elizabeth's death died down but never went away. Meanwhile, Eileen came to Emmerdale, as she learned about Elizabeth's death and threatened to expose him as a bigamist. Knowing this would cost him Elizabeth's estate, Eric agreed to pay Eileen in return for a divorce and her silence.
Despite his reputation for dodgy business deals, including a dramatic heist in November 1994, 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 on holiday to the Philippines for Christmas 1996, Eric shocks everyone by returning with a young fiancée, Diwata Margharita, better known as Dee Dee la Cruz. She and Eric get married, despite a backlash when Rachel Hughes (Glenda McKay) discovers that 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 tires of Eric's business woes and paranoia that she will be unfaithful, particularly when 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 Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) helps Eric to recover from his heartbreak.
In 2000, Eric saves Kathy's life. Suspecting that her boyfriend, Graham Clark (Kevin Pallister), murdered his last fiancée, Rachel, Eric voices his worries but no one believes him. When he rescues Kathy, he is considered a hero. In the aftermath, journalists appear in Kathy's Diner, wanting information about Graham. Sarah Sugden asks Pollard why he didn't warn her there were journalists there but Pollard verbally attacks her, angrily asking 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 pushs him to become mayor and, on their wedding night in 2002, she insists he spend the night with councillor Glynis to secure her nomination. When the scandal breaks, thanks to Steph Forsythe (Lorraine Chase), Gloria twists it 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 Eric finds out, he is horrified and throws her out. In despair, Gloria leaves the village and only her car and shoes are found later. Convinced she is dead, Eric grieves until a few months later when he gets a video 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 their romance flourishes but politics come between them. When he decides to run for re-election, Eric realizes 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 and she dumps him. However, the pair continue to work together and it is clear they still have 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 realizes the damage she is doing to his campaign, Val tries to sabotage her own by admitting her shady past. Eric is touched by this 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 Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower), he still wins. 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) arrives, looking for Eric as his late mother told him that Eric is his father. Eric didn't know that David even existed so their relationship doesn't start well. David blames Eric for his mother's financial troubles. Eric doesn't care about that and implies she had loose morals so David hits him and Eric is determined to prove David is lying. Eric conducts a secret DNA test which suggests David isn't his son but the test is 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 from Eric, reclaiming money Eric stole 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 is rescued by his son, David. On 17 December 2007, Eric and Val are out 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. 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 is 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 wants 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 sells the factory to the Kings and Eric 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 and Eric moves the factory to the B & B. Worried about Leyla Harding's (Roxy Shahidi) constant requests for overtime, Eric tries to convince 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 doesn't know what to do with 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.
Unfortunately the business is still in trouble as orders have dropped dramatically so Eric decides to close the factory and sell the sewing equipment. Unfortunately Val and the Dingles have already sold the equipment and used the money as redundancy payments. Eric plans to open a funeral parlour but the locals protest and David talks him out of it so he starts looking for a job. Val hears that Louise Appleton (Emily Symons) wants to sell her share of the B&B and Terry isn't pleased to learn that she has sold it to Val and Eric, especially when they expect him to do all the work. They soon realise what hard work running a B&B can be and suggest opening a restaurant. Terry agrees cautiously and is also persuaded to hire Sam's "friend", Olena, as a cleaner - thinking she is Polish and wants money to fund her travels.
In 2010, Eric receives letters, messages and cards, apparently from his dead wife, Elizabeth. Amy Wyatt (Chelsea Halfpenny), Eric and Val's foster daughter, is the original suspect but the culprit is actually Elizabeth's son, Michael. Michael, who had been to jail repeatedly, confronts Eric at Elizabeth's grave and follows him back to The Grange, threatening to tell Val about his past. Michael leaves initially but later tells Amy that he is demanding Eric pay him a lot of money or he will reveal Eric is a murderer. Eric tells Michael that he will pay him and they get into the car but Eric 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, seeming on edge, and tells Val that he took Michael to the station. Eric finally tells Val that Elizabeth was killed by falling debris but he did consider killing her. Val is initially horrified; however, when Michael returns on 4 January to confront Eric again, Val tells him that the coroner's report states that Elizabeth was killed by falling debris. Val tells Michael that it is time to stop blaming Eric. He agrees and after a calm discussion, Eric persuades Michael to take the money he asked for and use it to start again. Michael then leaves the village.
When Val and Eric learn that Amy had a baby and didn't tell anyone that she was pregnant, they forgive her for keeping it a secret and discuss putting the baby up for adoption. Val wants Amy to keep Kyle but Eric tells her that he will support her, regardless of what decision she makes. Val is unhappy with Eric's choice to defend Amy and Kyle is adopted, ending Amy's 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 is not there as she decided to stay with a friend for the foreseeable future. Amy tries her hardest to keep running the B&B but Eric argues with a guest who is celebrating their birthday and they get a bad review. Diane tells Eric and Amy that Val may not return and that she has also emptied their bank account. After weeks of hoping Eric will come to his senses, Amy snaps and stands up to him but he sacks her and Victoria. After a long discussion with Amy, he reinstates them and sobers up. Eric makes friends with and later starts dating Brenda, which makes him happy, but Amy is unhappy but David talks her round. While having dinner with Brenda, Amy, and other guests, Val suddenly returns and is surprised not to be welcomed with open arms, but Eric asks his guests to leave before he, Amy and Val have a massive argument about her abandoning them. Later, Eric is forced to choose between Brenda and Val and after advice from David and Amy, Eric chooses Brenda. Eventually, Brenda and Eric end their relationship and he resumes his relationships with Val. After Rodney becomes a gigolo, he takes a woman out, but is horrified when her husband comes looking for him in the Woolpack. Rodney lies, telling the man that it was Eric, so he punches Eric in the face. To get his own back, 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 in Portugal. Ian comes looking for her as he is HIV positive and may have given Val the virus. When Eric is ill, Val panics and thinks she has passed the virus onto him, but he only has mild flu. Eric recovers but is furious to see Val leaving her lover's car and ends their marriage. While they're on a break from one another, Eric sleeps with Val's sister, Diane (Elizabeth Estensen). They both regret it, but Diane is horrified to learn that Val may be HIV positive, and takes medication to fight the virus. Val finally tells Eric about the HIV and they both get tested. Eric is negative but Val is 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 throwing them out and her breaking down. The next day, Eric tries to apologize but she sees red and throws a bottle of whisky at him, leading to him cutting his head. Val then tells everyone in The Woolpack about Eric and Diane's one night stand. 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 has to wear gloves before cleaning her wound.
In June 2015, Eric discovers that Val took part in Bob Hope and Carly Hope's plan to commit fraud, to help Carly through her financial problems. Eric is tired of the bickering, caused by Val and her sister, Diane, who also discovered about Val's crime. During the wedding of Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton on 4 August 2015, Eric locks Val and Diane in the house of mirrors and wanders off to drink in a pub with Doug Potts and Rodney Blackstock. Unbeknownst to him, during the helicopter crash, Val was killed in the house of mirrors by a sharp piece of glass. Eric arrives home the next day and he discovers Val's death. Eric believes Val is faking, as she previously planned and goes home to find her, but realizes she is not there. David assures Eric that Val is dead and that it is not a joke. Eric is alone at home and he sees Val's ghost. Val turns on the stereo and picks the song that the couple enjoyed together. Eric gives Val one last cigarette and Val says her goodbyes, before slowly fading away. David returns to the house and Eric breaks down as he accepts that his wife has now gone.
Eric blames Chrissie Sugden for Val's death as she started the fire which led to the helicopter crash. He is angry when she pleads not guilty to reckless arson and he shows up at her house, armed with a cricket bat. He gives her an ultimatum, change her plea or he will beat a confession out of her. Chrissie's estranged husband Robert Sugden shows up and convinces Eric to leave. When Chrissie is later found not guilty and given a suspended sentence for arson, Eric throws a paintball at her. He is removed from the court and is later arrested. Eric returns home to find his house trashed and Val's engagement ring missing. Eric boards the house up and refuses to speak to anyone. On Christmas Day, Eric is forced to leave his house when Val's dog Cheryl runs off with one of Val's shoes. As he is following her, he sees David having a good time with his family. He then goes to the graveyard and vicar Ashley Thomas talks to him. He returns home. Concerned about him, Diane goes to his house, along with other villagers and they start singing Christmas Carols. Eric ignores them until they start singing a song special to Val. He let's them in and they start celebrating Christmas. David shows up, pleased that Eric is moving on. He gives Eric Val's engagement ring, as Cheryl found it. They then share a hug. Eric reveals to David that he is upset that he never got to say goodbye to Val, so they, along with other villagers, visit Val's grave.
In March 2016, Val's customised, comically large headstone arrives. Eric begins acting shifty around his family, leading people to believe he is going back to the way he was in the immediate aftermath of Val's death. Eric later tells David that he has trouble urinating, and David warns him it could be a sign of cancer. Then, after he bursts in to a guest's bathroom at the B&B, with the guest using it, Eric is forced into going to the doctors, but only if David goes with him. Eric receives the all-clear, as he's told that he only has a urine infection. Eric then sees that David himself is beginning to act out of the ordinary. Eventually, David reveals he could have testicular cancer, and when tests come back, David is told that he doesn't have cancer, so he, Eric, and Leyla plan to celebrate at the Wooly. However, when David takes too long to arrive, Eric and Leyla go looking for him, and find him in the shop, crying. David reveals there had been a "mix-up" with his test results, and that he DOES have cancer. Eric is devastated by the news, fearing that he is going to lose his son mere months after losing his wife.
Casting and development
One of Eric's most notable storylines involved his bigamous second marriage to gamekeeper Elizabeth Feldmann (played by Kate Dove), although he was not exposed as a bigamist until after Elizabeth's death in the high-profile plane crash storyline of 1993/1994. The storyline started when Eric and Elizabeth were romantically paired in 1991, much to the annoyance of Elizabeth's son, Michael. As the storyline progressed, Michael was keen to expose Eric as a crooked businessman to his mother, although he himself was unaware of Eric's bigamy. Eric and Elizabeth married in October 1992, but by the end of the following year the relationship had gone sour. Her coincidental death (which Eric was accused of) led to the arrival of Eileen in January 1994- Eric's first wife. The twist was kept secret by producers and explained Eric's lack of romanticism and love towards Elizabeth during their marriage. Eileen arrives in Emmerdale to expose Eric after reading about Elizabeth's death in the newspaper. Speaking of the plot, Chittell said "The marriage to Elizabeth was a mistake, but he's got depth... he isn't prepared to think of the consequences". Eileen demands a to be paid off and divorced in exchange for her silence, to which Eric agrees.