Updated 17th March 2003

Sarah Sugden nee Conolly
(Go to Sarah One)

Alyson Spiro


Appeared: 1988-2000

IMDB entry for: Alyson Spiro (1994-2000)

IMDB entry for:Madeleine Howard (1988-1994)

nee Conolly
2nd wife of Jack
Born: 25 March 1952
Married: 19 May 1994 Jack Sugden
Died: (in barn fire)16 November 2000

Sarah Sugden died tragically in a fire started by her adopted son Andy, she was in the farm barn hiding with her lover Richie.

Children: Victoria Sugden, Andy Sugden (adopted), stepson Robert

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.

The first Death in Emmerdale Farm was that of Sharon Crossthwaite (played by Louise Jameson). She was raped and murdered by Jim Latimer on 30th January 1973. Latimer was jailed for life and served 18 years in prison.
When Latimer was released in 1991 he set out for revenge. He kidnapped Sarah Connolly because he held a grudge against her then boyfriend Jack Sugden. Jack had been a witness for the prosecution at his trial back in 1973. Latimer held Sarah captive in a disused building, but she remained cool and was eventually released unhurt.

Sarah Sugden fan card circa 1997

Like Clive Hornby, Alyson Spiro faced the challenge of taking over a role previously played by someone else when she took the part of farmer Jack Sugden's wife, Sarah, in 1994. This followed the decision by Madeleine Howard to leave Emmerdale after six years in the cast.
'It's slightly odd taking over someone's role,' says Alyson, 'but I had never seen Emmerdale, so it was like a clean slate to me and that made it much easier to approach. I just learned the script and did it my way. Clive was wonderfully kind and helped me a lot. We got on very well. But the public didn't take kindly to me at all. People used to say, "You aren't like the other one, are you?" Then they gave me a very difficult storyline, in which Sarah was supposed to be having an affair. But after the story of her stepson, Robert, going missing, people began to warm to me.' The reception Alyson received from the cast was certainly warmer than that she recalled from her previous soap role.
In Brookside she acted singleparent scientist Alison Gregory, girlfriend of Dr Michael Choi, who was played by David Yip. 'When I joined Emmerdale, I was welcomed and made to feel comfortable and happy and part of a group,' she says. 'I never, ever felt part of a group in Brookside. David and I went in as outsiders and remained outsiders. I still count Annie Miles, who played Sue Sullivan, as a good friend of mine. Other than that, nobody made me feel welcome. But working on Brookside was an incredibly valuable learning experience. You recorded it and saw it a few weeks later, so you were constantly learning.'
Alyson has acted on television in The Enigma Files, King's Royal, Fell Tiger, Sam Saturday, Casualty and Prime Suspect 3, in which she played a social worker. 'I was five months pregnant when I did that,' she says. She has also taken two roles in The Bill, acted the 'fifth Beatle' Stuart Sutcliffe's girlfriend Astrid in the television film Birth of The Beatles and appeared with Julie Waiters in the feature film She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas.
'Doing the Beaties film was like a dream come true,' recalls Alyson. 'I was a serious Beatles fan. My mother took me to The Beatles' Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1966. Playing Astrid was marvellous fun and the guys who played The Beatles were a really good laugh.
'But my favourite role was Ruth in She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas, set in an outward-bound centre at Eskdale. It was a wonderful, wonderful job. It was all "gals" in the cast, which is really unusual. We had just a token male as the love interest. We stayed at a hotel near Sellafield, in the Lake District, and did a week's training first. We all got on incredibly well together, a wide age range of women who had never met. We were up all night drinking and partying all the time. We played such tricks and pranks, and julie Walters was always the leader of the pack - she's naturally funny.
'In the film, I had to jump off a very high bridge into a river, which really panicked me, but the stunt co-ordinator was under the water waiting to fish me out and it worked wonderfully.'
Since training at LAMDA, Alyson has also worked extensively in theatre. She has played most of Shakespeare's heroines, from Hermia and Titania to Viola, Portia and Juliet, and worked with the New Shakespeare Company at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, when Ralph Fiennes was an assistant stage manager there. 'He played one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream,'Alyson recalls. She also appeared in a spectacular, eight-hour production of Faust, in two parts, starring Simon Callow at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.
Alyson made her television debut in Betzi, in which Frank Finlay starred as Napoleon exiled on St Helena and she played a daughter of the family with whom he stayed. One of her favourite screen roles was in the television film Northern Crescent as a single parent who fell in love with an Asian.
In Emmerdale, Alyson had three children to look after, Sarah's stepson, Robert, her foster son Andy and daughter Victoria . In real life, the London-based actress and her actor husband have three daughters - Ella, born in 1991, and twins Cara and Georgia, born shortly before Alyson joined the show.
Alyson has recently left the series after her character sarah Sugden was killed in a fire at Emmerdale Farm.

See also She Wolf's Profile for Sarah Sugden at www.emmerdale.tk (under deaths)

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