Updated 16th October 2002

Sam Pearson

Toke Townley

appeared: 16 October 1972-1984

Father of Annie.
According to his grave stone, Died 27 November 1984 in his 83rd year. Widower of Grace
née Armitage. Other sources suggest he was married to Mary.

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 the coloured boxes have been added, although in most cases the text comes from Paul.


Toke Townley, who played Sam Pearson, Father of Annie Sugden appeared in more than 800 episodes before his death from a heart attack on 28th September 1984.
Sam Pearson said in 1975. "In our village, things have a way of turning out not quite as you'd expect."  

Sam Pearson, Annie's father died peacefully in his sleep after celebrating his prize pumpkins win in the annual village show. Sam served at Flanders during world war 1. the went back to working on the land, by the time he had retired he was farming manager at Verney's. He moved to Emmerdale when his daughter Annie married Jacob. After Jacob's death Sam was made a partner in the newly formed Emmerdale company, finding the responsibility too much he sold his shares to to Henry Wilks for £500 which he used to train dogs. Sam was chairman of the Emmerdale cricket team. He was also on the committee of the Bowls Club and the horticultural society.

Toke Townley, who played Sam Pearson, Father of Annie Sugden appeared in more than 800 episodes before his death from a heart attack on 28th September 1984.
Toke Townley came to acting late, taking to the professional stage in his thirties after starting his working life as a clerk in a factory. But, by the time he joined Emmerdale Farm at its inception in 1972, he had appeared in dozens of films during the heyday of British studios, often acting country bumpkins.
The transition to God-fearing Dalesman Sam Pearson, father of Annie Sugden, was therefore not so great, and he is still remembered by those who followed the serial in its early days as an upholder o country traditions. Complete with cloth cap and collarless shirt, jack and Joe Sugden's 'Grandad' was an obstinate, country-loving, pipe-smoking, cidersipping character with a wry sense of humour. Although retired from farming, he still made sure his views were listened to.
Toke's real-life family had been an upholder of traditions, too. A vicar's son, born in Margaret Roding, Essex, in 1912, he was christened John, but his parents subsequently decided they must not lose the surname of one of their ancestors and had the forename on his birth certificate changed to Toke.
On leaving school, he became a factory clerk, acting in his spare time. It was not until the age of 32 that he turned professional with Birmingham Rep, before appearing in many BBC television programmes during the early, pioneering days at Alexandra Palace.
Between 1951 and 1970, in the heyday of the British studios, Toke appeared in almost 30 films, including Lady Godiva Rides Again, Doctor at Sea, The Quatermass Experiment, The Admirable Crichton, Carry On Admiral, Look Back in Anger, HMS Defiant, Doctor in Distress and The Scars of dracula.
Although much loved by the rest of the Emmerdale cast, Toke was a private person, living alone at a Leeds hotel, to which he returned after working on the serial, and allowing himself none of the so-called comforts of modern life - car or television - but he did eat out every evening.
Sheila Mercier, who played Toke's screen daughter, Annie Sugden, recalls that he felt awkward changing with the rest of the cast on location. 'There was only one caravan in which all cast members could change, which meant that men and women were mixed together,' she says. 'It didn't bother me, but it did bother Toke and he would hide in the wardrobe caravan. He never ate with us, either, but sat alone near the door of the canteen.
He was very much a loner and would entertain himself for hours and hours playing the flute.' Toke was able to bring this musical talent to Emmerdale on appropriate occasions, often accompanied by dancing children. In 1984, Toke died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 71, after appearing in more than 800 episodes of Emmerdale. His departure marked the end of an era for the serial.

Taken from the emmerdale companion by Anthony Hayward.

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