Veteran actor Freddie Jones is to depart from Emmerdale after deciding to leave his role of Sandy Thomas after 13 years with the Yorkshire soap. In an exit fitting this acting legend, the character will be given a chance of a new life in Australia by newcomer Maisie, played by British sitcom stalwart Wendy Craig, star of Butterflies.
Freddie Jones made his first appearance in Emmerdale on 6 November 2005. The character departed in March 2008, but returned to the show in February 2009 and has been a delight to watch ever since.
His storylines included being abused by his son Ashley Thomas who was struggling with his personal life and more recently Ashley’s dementia and death. Some of the soap’s more comedic moments has been from Sandy whilst the cast have fought to have scenes with Freddie, as Emmerdale fans enjoyed his friendships with the likes of Edna Birch and youngster Sean Spencer as well as grandson Arthur.
In his final storyline, tourist Maisie turns up in Emmerdale, played by Wendy Craig, who turns out to be a pal of former resident Betty Eagleton. Armed with a letter from Betty, the two strike up a friendship which ends with Maisie giving Sandy a ticket to join her in Australia.
Speaking about his departure to Radio Times, Freddie Jones said: “It’s about the balance of my life. The company generously offered me another 12 months. But I just thought, I have no idea what I’m going to do in another bloody year! The drama that Ashley’s death gave me last year was monumental. But that’s gone now. I travel three hours by car, book into a hotel and then get up the next day to say maybe three sentences. And then do a three hour journey back. I can’t justify staying, even though Emmerdale was very generous in asking me to.”
Asked what has kept him going on Emmerdale so long, Freddie replied: “Actors need to act. Plus, it’s the only thing I can do with any decency and I draw great satisfaction from it. I try to wring all I can from a sentence. It’s rewarding and it depends upon creativity and invention.
“People do seem to stay young in this profession – there’s something rejuvenating about it. I’ve found being in Emmerdale incredible – I’m almost in love with the people here. And that isn’t actors’ hyperbole!”
Freddie also talked about the rigours of filming Emmerdale, adding: “Well it’s demanding when there are last-minute changes to the script. For a long time, I was nervous because one word can throw the rhythm of a line. I did introduce a very large vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon to the studio – people were fainting in the gallery! But the hippocampus is like a muscle – if you exercise it, it will work for you. And when you do conquer the difficulties, it brings you great joy.”
He cited a ‘feeling of friendship’ as his overriding memory of Emmerdale. Freddie explained: “Overwhelming love from every quarter – props, lighting, make-up… nobody could have been kinder. My life will easily be more impoverished.”
Want to know more about Emmerdale character Sandy Thomas? follow our The Emmerdaily character profile: