Anthony ("Tony") Cairns

Played by Edward Peel (click for IMDB entry)

Husband of Becky, father of Will, Emma and Charlie.
(Appeared: 27 February 1997 - 1 April 1998)


Edward Peel played two different regular roles in Emmerdale. First as as the 2nd Tom Merrick, in 1981 and then, in 1997 as Tony Cairns.

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


The imposing, six-foot-two-inch-tall Edward Peel has the distinction of being the only actor to play two different regular roles in Emmerdale. As scoundrel Tom Merrick, he acted the former husband of Pat Merrick, who returned to the village and married her childhood sweetheart Jack Sugden. He was, in fact, the second of three actors to play the role. Then, in 1997, he was cast as Tony Cairns, who had taken early retirement from the Army and moved to Emmerdale, where his wife Becky grew up - and quickly had to come to terms with his 13-year-daughter, Emma, giving birth to a baby.

Tom was a very strong character,' recalls Edward. .' got up to his usual tricks, then disappeared. I only did a couple of dozen episodes over two years, though people always think it was a lot more. Tony is also strong, but he arrived with teenage children and all the problems associated with that. He has three children and I have three children myself so,al hough mine are a bit older, I can certainly sympathise with him.

'I've been through it myself, although I don't know how I would have coped if my 13-year-old daughter had become pregnant. It would have been anawful shock. I think Tony's reaction was fairly understandable and symptomatic of most fathers' responses. It was to have been a time for Tony and Becky to look forward to retirement and having me time together.'

Edward's return to Emmerdale, 15 years after having the role of Tom Merrick, followed a long career in theatre, films and television, although the Bradford-born actor started his working life as a Primmary school teacher. He left after a year, worked as grave digger during the summer, then decided to train as an actor at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, in Kent.

On leaving drama school, work was scarce, but Edward eventually acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre for the first of two spells with the group. When he first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, which has a reputation for staging challenging dramas and giving new writers a chance, the Lord Chamberlain was still regulating what was acceptable for public performance. 'We added Sunday-night productions of new plays with no sets or costumes and I was paid £2 for doing it and nothing for rehearsal,' says Edward, 'but it was a very exciting time.

'We had police from the Obscene Publications Squad turning up all the time. I acted in The Changing Room, a play about rugby players, written by David Storey and directed by Lindsay Anderson, and there were 16 of us stark naked on the stage!'

Edward's association with Lindsay Anderson led him to appear in some of the director's films, such as 0 Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital. 'He was just an exciting man of his time,' says Edward, 'pushing out the boundaries of theatre and film.' Edward was also in the film The Empire Strikes Back.

On television, Edward has been seen in series such as Country Matters, The Sweeney, Minder, Out, Boys From the Blackstuff, Juliet Bravo, By the Sword Divided, Doctor Who, The Bill and Cracker. 'Before returning to Emmerdale, I had become ensconced in theatre for a long time, doing the same thing night after night,' says Edward, who lives in Lincolnshire with his wife, Connie. 'It's good to get variety in this business. And the programme was totally different when I came back - it's a sleek production line now, whereas before it gently ticked over. It has geared up to the changes in the nineties.'

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

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