Updated 30th January 2004

Rebecca ("Becky") Cairns

Wife of Tony, mother of Will, Emma and Charlie.

Played by Sarah Neville

(128 episodes 27 February 1997 - April 1998)


Tony and Becky with thir three children, Charlotte (Charlie), Emma and Will

The following taken from :-25 Yeas of Emmerdale (1997) repubublsihed as "The Emmerdale Companion" (1998) by Anthony Hayward


The sacrifice that Becky Cairns made as an Army wife, bringing up three children while husband Tony disappeared for months at a time, is not something that would come naturally to Sarah Neville, the actress who plays Becky. Finding out that her 13-year-old daughter had become a mother was also a storyline that would have presented Sarah with more of a dilemma than it did her character.

'I'm more selfish,' says Sarah, who has a young daughter, Emily, with her actor partner, Michael Lumsden. 'I would have found it difficult to marry and be simply a wife and a mother. And I couldn't have coped with my daughter having a baby at that age. I really hope that I would have had a close relationship with her and noticed sooner. But, if it happened, I think I would have handled it differently and probably sided with Tony's viewpoint, that at 13 you aren't fit to cope with having a baby and it should be adopted.'

Sarah's background was a preparation for her career as an actress. Her father, Oliver Neville, was a director and, recently, principal of RADA, and her stepmother is actress Pat Heywood. 'I can't say they encouraged me, but they didn't actively discourage me,' she recalls. Sarah's other love was music and she gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where she trained as a violinist, pianist and singer on Saturday mornings. When she approached her school exams, she gave up her sessions there. 'Something had to go,' she says, 'and, very stupidly, I let it slide.'

Intent on a career in acting, Sarah trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She made her television debut as a social worker in the lTV: series Kids, about children in care.

Many television and stage productions followed. She acted Celia in a West End producti on of The Philanthropist and, on television, played Baader-Meinhof terrorist in The Professionals, a nurse in the epic series The Jewel in the Crown, Molly Sorrell in Sorrell and Son, Carol Chapman in Bust, a career woman in Capital City and Labour MP in the parliamentary serial Annie's Bar. She also appeared in the controversial televisionseries The Buddha of Suburbia.

Then came the role of Becky Cairns in Emmerdale. 'Becky was returning home to have a quiet life,' says Sarah. 'I wasn't entirely thrilled myself about the baby storyline. I was suddenly fearful that she would get stuck with the baby. Tony was chomping at the bit and Becky had to hold him back a bit. She's the more balanced thinking one. She has a humour, an intelligence and a wit that I hope will be explored further.'

Joining Emmerdale also proved difficult for Sarah as a mother herself. 'I'm away from my home in London a lot and, although Michael and my daughter have come up and stayed, it's difficult,' she says. 'Fortunately, Emily is very keen on her dad and we have an au au pair. But I find it hard and she finds it hard.'

As for researching Becky's love of pottery, Sarah could draw on her own experience asa child. 'I did pottery at school,' she says, 'I just had to reacquaint myself with it before going in front of the cameras.'

The Cairn family welcome baby Geri

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