Paula Tilbrook is to retire from ITV Yorkshire serial Emmerdale after twenty one years in the role of villager Betty Eagleton.
Betty first appeared in April 1994 for just three episodes when she ordered a sweet sherry in the Woolpack. Being an old friend of Seth Armstrong, she soon put down roots in the Village and even fell prey to wheeler dealer Eric Pollard over a field. Seth proposed at the end of her first year but the marriage never happened as they postponed it indefinitely – remaining a couple until Seth’s passing on a trip home from Australia.
“Today is both the saddest and the happiest day of my life. Happy because I’ve got everyone here with me but the sad part is I’m leaving. But there is a great atmosphere and it is nice to go out on a high.” – Paula Tilbrook
Paula’s last scenes as Betty will be aired mid May, when Betty says goodbye for the last time to the Emmerdale regulars. Over the years Betty had a number of on-screen partnerships initially with lovable rogue, and her love, Seth Armstrong played by the late Stan Richards, snobby housemate Alan Turner played by the late Richard Thorp and gossip pal Edna Birch, actress Shirley Stelfox.
“Betty is a shameless gossip and loves to know everybody’s business. You are most likely to find her commentating on events whilst supping a sherry she has persuaded somebody to buy for her.” – ITV Yorkshire
Storylines saw Betty involved in many comedy moments including while working at Kathy’s Diner incurring a “gossip overload”, but also serious topics too. In 1996 she showed a none too liberal stance against Zoe Tate’s gay wedding when she tried her best to have it cancelled. A fire which burned through several buildings in 2011 nearly claimed her life as she slept in her cottage, while an era came to an end in 2013 when she found, village regular for over three decades, Alan Turner had died in his sleep at their home.
“It’s impossible to overstate how much everyone at Emmerdale will miss Paula. She’s created a British television icon: someone who has lit up our screens and touched our hearts.” – Kate Oates
Emmerdale, Monday to Friday at 7pm on ITV, STV and UTV (Thursdays an additional episode airs at 8pm)