The secrets behind the Emmerdale village as soap marks 50 years

  • Drone footage of the Emmerdale village has been released to mark its 50th birthday

As Emmerdale prepares to mark its 50th anniversary, bosses have released new pictures of what they are calling the "world's most beautiful TV set" – and revealed the work that went into making the village a reality.

Built in the Yorkshire Dales, between Leeds and Harrogate, and based on the village of Esholt, viewers will be familiar with its picturesque high street, historic village church and hall and the well-appointed children’s playground.

There is a garage and delicatessen, a red telephone box and a B&B, a vet's surgery, a beautician and, of course, the village pub.But, in reality, it has a population of precisely zero and the plots in the village graveyard are empty.

The Emmerdale village is based on the village of Esholt. Credit: ITV/Emmerdale

Twelve things you might not know about the Emmerdale village

The fake village has its roots very much in reality. Here are some of the facts behind the fiction:

  • The real village of Esholt had been used as the location for exterior scenes on Emmerdale for 22 years. But alternative plans were drawn up after the village became congested with fans keen to get close to the stars.

  • In 1996, Yorkshire Television and Emmerdale applied to Leeds City Council for planning permission to construct the village exterior as a purpose-built closed set. A location had been selected and once planning permission was granted, a tenancy agreement was signed.

  • The 11-acre village was built in 1998 as a permanent home.

  • It took just 20 weeks to create, with a team of builders working around the clock, seven days a week, to get ready for a move over Christmas – the only time Emmerdale stops filming for a couple of weeks. Building was carried out in consultation with conservation experts.

Tricks were used to age the buildings. Credit: ITV/Emmerdale
  • The village has its own supply of essentials, including its own electricity and water supply, phone lines, sanitation and high-tech security system. But it has no foundations, or permanent structure of any kind.

  • Each of the properties in the village has its own chimney fitted with small smoke machines, which are controllable at the flick of a switch to give exterior authenticity.

  • Many of the properties are based on housing designs from the 1600s and built in traditional Yorkshire and limestone. Some were replicated from Esholt. The Woolpack is built exactly as it originally looked in Esholt.

  • Tricks were used to give the buildings an aged appearance: houses were sprayed with yoghurt and manure to encourage lichen to grow quickly on the exteriors of the house and roofs; steps leading up to houses were physically ground down to achieve a look of centuries of weathering.

  • The village features half a mile of dry stonewalling.

  • Five hundred tonnes of crushed limestone were needed to create a mile-long access road.

The village is set in 11 acres of Yorkshire countryside. Credit: ITV/Emmerdale
  • Real headstones were salvaged from an 18th century East London graveyard when it was redeveloped and used in the Emmerdale graveyard. But there are fictional gravestones of crew members who have previously worked on the show, but are still alive, including: Mike Long, the designer of the Emmerdale village, and Timothy J Fee, the former line producer.

  • The outdoor set includes a house built some way from the main village, which was simply put there for perspective. In the shots in which it appears, it makes the village look larger. In real life, the building is the base and the storeroom for the gardeners who tend to the village set.

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