I’ve been an Emmerdale extra for 50 years, TV doesn’t pay well so I still have my day job – soap is my side hustle


YOU might not know his name, but diehard Emmerdale fans will certainly recognise his face.

That’s because Colin Farrer is the ITV soap’s longest running extra, having appeared in the background of the show since it first burst onto our screens 50 years ago – then under the name Emmerdale Farm. 

Colin Farrer has been an Emmerdale extra since the very beginning

Colin has been with the cast – including the late Stan Richards who played Seth Armstrong – since the beginning

Since then, Colin has been involved in some of the soap’s most dramatic scenes – including the 1993 Woolpack plane crash – and drank more pints in the iconic soap boozer than he can remember. 

Now the secret soap star, who has also appeared in Emmerdale’s sister soap Coronation Street, has even roped his son Lee in and the pair drive to set together to film their scenes. 

But Emmerdale isn’t Colin’s only job, as the Leeds born actor has continued to work in his family trade as a book maker.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way, as he loves that one day he can be in the office continuing the family business, and the next listening to the director shout, “Action.”

In an exclusive interview with Fabulous, Colin tells us: “Two of my Uncles were comedians in the clubs and I always felt like I liked stuff like that. So when ITV first opened, I rang and asked them how I could be on TV.

“They said to get an agent, which I did. And within a few weeks, I got an extra part on one of their dramas.

“When Emmerdale first started, it was nice to see a local show on screen. I thought, ‘That would be nice if I could have a go at that,’ and luckily my agent got me some work.

“It was a long time ago but [my first episode] was in the Woolpack where I had a lot of my scenes.

“Now I’ve been at ITV for 52 years – and that makes me feel old! It’s been great and an eye-opener.” 

So how has Colin, who still lives in Leeds, managed to juggle both a day job and his work in front of the camera? 

He explains: “My family were book makers, so I went into the job when I was 19 years old and had my own office. 

“I used to ask my dad if I could have one of his staff for the day so I could go and film.

“Obviously the money is not very good on television so it wasn’t for the money – it was just good fun, and a change of scenery. 

“I’m still doing both jobs now. My son’s on this week and I was on the other week and I do the book work at home on the business that we have now.”

In his time on the ITV set, Colin has seen it all – including being a key part of the iconic storyline when a plane came crashing into The Woolpack and left Chris Tate [played by Peter Amory] paralysed. 

Recalling when he and the cast shot the memorable scene, Colin continues: “The plane came down, it crashed, the stunt man dived through the window, the ceiling collapsed and everything fell down – I fell against the bar next to the character Zoe Tate [played by Leah Bracknell].

“I ended up crumpled up with dust on me and everything. The director said, ‘Ok, that’s great. But we’re going to have a break now for lunch, reset the scene and then we can start again. Oh, and by the way Colin, next time you fall down, can you spill your pint.’”

He laughs: “I was sitting on the floor, all rolled up and covered in dirt but still had a full pint in my hand!”

Colin – who has been recognised for his role everywhere from his local high street to a restaurant in Monte Carlo – has also mingled with the stars, past and present. 

The Emmerdale star, who jokes that the only downside to his extra work is the traffic to and from work, tells us: “Chris Chittell [who plays Eric Pollard] is the friendliest person I’ve ever met. 

“He speaks to every extra and always gives me a good handshake and knows about my family.

“Old Mr Alan Turner [played by Richard Thorp] was also great. He was superb, I worked with him for years – we used to have lunch together. 

“Also, because I’ve been in the Woolpack quite a lot, I get to have a quick chat with Chastity and Charity Dingle [played by Lucy Pargeter and Emma Atkins]. They’re very nice.

“Matthew Wolfenden [who plays David Metcalfe] is also a total gentleman and very fun too.”

As for the future, Colin says he hopes to be on our screens for years to come, and can’t wait to see what twists and turns are in store for viewers as Emmerdale marks its big milestone. 

“Through all of my extra work I’ve seen lots of things, I’ve got five scrapbooks full of stuff that I’ve done. 

“It’s outside of your normal life – friends in the local coffee shop always ask me what’s going on whenever I’ve been on set. It’s just so interesting.”

He smiles: “Now I’m looking forward to the 50th episode, I can’t wait to see what happens – as long as they don’t kill me off!”

Emmerdale’s 50th anniversary episode airs Sunday 16th October at 7pm on ITV

Colin has popped up regularly over the years

Colin’s son Lee has also followed in his footsteps

Colin has been a part of many memorable stunts

Colin hopes to be on our screens in the popular ITV soap for years to come