June 7th 1994 - Disaster Strikes Again

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Great Moments In Emmerdale - The Home Farm Siege

Put together by Will

Alan Turner’s fortunes took a turn for the better when he met Shirley Foster while helping out at the drop-in centre where she worked. Love blossomed, and it wasn’t long before Shirley was installed behind the bar of The Woolpack. The couple married in February 1994 but, just four months later, their wedded bliss was cut short by a heartbreaking tragedy.

When postmistress Viv Windsor’s ex husband, the recently released convict Reg Dawson, arrived in Emmerdale he claimed it was to visit his son Scott. Initially he played the doting dad, but he was actually planning to rob the post office and, 19 days after his arrival, stunned Viv when he and his gang burst in demanding money and shooting Alan Turner in the ensuring struggle. Meanwhile, Michael Feldmann and Joe Sugden noticed that something was amiss and disturbed the gang who fled with Viv as a hostage.

By a tragic coincidence, Shirley Turner was passing by, and the raiders seized her Range Rover to make a fast getaway. They could not have picked a worse fellow hostage to accompany Viv, as the two women hated each other, the raiders and their hostages headed for a deserted Home Farm, but were forced to abandon the vehicle and proceed on foot across the moors. At Home Farm, things began to go tragically wrong when Reg accidentally shot dead one of his accomplices, mistaking him for a policeman. He was about to shoot Viv too, when Shirley bravely intervened, took the full force of the bullet, and was killed.

Al Hunter Ashton, who played robber Colin Long, found filming the siege scenes unforgettable.
“ I remember it like it was yesterday,” he laughs. “It was freezing cold, there was even snow on the moors, and we spent what seemed like weeks dragging these two women across the moors. At one point we had to wade through a river - and cold was not the word! I was wearing a long boiler suit so I could wear wellies in the freezing water - whereas Rachel Davies and Deena Payne, who played Shirley and Viv, had no choice but to do it in high heels. It was the coldest, yet funniest, experience I’d ever had.”

Before Emmerdale, Al starred in Crossroads as Ray Grice, and has gone on to star as Pitbull in London’s Burning, as well as appearances in Holby City and Doctors. Al is also a screenwriter, and is currently one of the main storyliners for Eastenders. Reg Dawson, who died in the ill-fated siege was played by Niven Boyd.

He went on to appear in Coronation Street as Paul Fisher, the slimy amusement arcade boss who blackmailed Judy Mallet into sleeping with him. Rachel Davies, who was already an established actress when she was cast as Shirley, has gone on to star in shows including Band of Gold, Silent Witness, Dangerfield, Harbour Lights and BBC1’s Linda Green.

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