Updated 29th Setpember 2003

Matt Skilbeck

Frederick Pyne

Appeared: 16 October 1972- 16 July 1973

IMDB entry for: Frederick Pyne

Husband of Peggy Sugden (who
died: 16th July 1973) .
Married 2nd Dolly Acaster 29 June 1978; seperated 1989.

Father of twins Sam & Sally Skilbeck by Peggy

At just 3 years old Peggy and Malt's twins died in a car crash with their aunt whom they had been staying with since the death of their mother. The car was in collision of a train at a level crossing. On the twins death Peggy's share of the arm passed to Matt.

Father of Samuel David Skilbeck by Dolly

Official Emmerdale fan card for Matt signed by Frederick

Please visit Will's site Emmerdale Cast Interviews Homepage fro a recent interview with Frederick Pyne.

A Huge Big Thank you to Paul Berridge who has made various profiles and photos availabe to me. They were previously on his Beckindale site (that is no more). This is one of those profiles - although this coloured box has been added.

As farmhand Matt Skilbeck, Frederick Pyne went through the gamut of emotions, losing his first wife, Peggy, experiencing the subsequent death of their twins, Sally and Sam, and seeing his second marriage, to Dolly, fall apart. On top of that, Matt was charged with manslaughter after attacking quarry owner Harry Mowlem, who had been pestering his second wife, but was set free when Derek Warner confessed to the crime.
Frederick played Matt for 17 years and left to return to the theatre. 'I thought I would do a maximum of five years,' he recalls, 'but it's amazing how quickly the time goes. Until nearly the end of my run in it, I had a very enjoyable time. Yorkshire Television was a very good company to work for and all of us in the cast were a happy bunch. Staying in something so long is a bit like doing a Shakespeare play. You have to play each scene for what it's worth. A character at the beginning of a play is often different from halfway through or at the end. That was true with those characters in Emmerdale.
Although the serial did not eventually get to the screen until the autumn of 1972, London-born Frederick had been interviewed with a view to playing the role of Matt the previous year. 'I had appeared in justice for Yorkshire Television and, apparently, the producer, james Ormerod, put in a good word for me,' recalls Frederick. 'That first time, they told me not to think too much about it because the programme might never get off the shelf.
Then, about a year later, I received another call asking me to meet the producer, David Goddard, and the writer, Kevin Laffan. 'When they described Matt and Peggy to me as an ordinary farming couple, with Peggy being the daughter of the Sugdens, I said, "I know these people." I lived in the country during the war, in Cambridgeshire, and the daughter of the family I was brought up with got married, and she and her husband were Matt and Peggy types.'
When he came to play the role, Frederick left behind a theatre career that included spells at the National Theatre and Old Vic, working alongside such greats as Laurence Olivier, Frank Finlay and Maggie Smith. He had also acted on television in Macbeth, Crossroads and Dixon of Dock Green.
The character of Matt was mild-mannered and laid-back, but another side to him emerged when Harry Mowlem made advances to his second wife, Dolly, and he attacked the quarrelsome quarry owner as a result. 'Mowlem was such a monster that even the most placid person would lose their temper,' explains Frederick. The actor decided to leave four years after Kevin Laffan stopped writing for the programme. In the story, Matt left the village to start afresh as manager of a Norfolk sheep farm.
'I was approaching 50 and thought that, if I didn't get out soon and do other good character work in the theatre, I never would,' says Frederick. 'And I worked out that I was working about 20 weeks of the year to pay the Inland Revenue and VAT men, to travel to and from my house in London and to pay the mortgage on a place I didn't need in Yorkshire. When you realise you are doing something just for the money, it's the time to get out.
'In the programme, Dolly had an affair and our marriage broke up, which I didn't really like. I thought it was out of character. And it was sad that one of the few good, happy families in all the different soaps had to split up.' Since leaving Emmerdale, Frederick has concentrated on theatre, acting in tours of Hindle Wakes, Noises Off, Straight and Narrow - with Dora Bryan - and The Return of sherlock Holmes, in which he played Dr Watson. He also appears in pantomime every year. 'I've worked with some great people on stage,' he says, 'such as Peggy Mount, Kathy Staff, Ruth Madoc and Anita Dobson.'

Taken from the emmerdale companion by Anthony Hayward

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