As the gun-slinging Jackie Merrick in Emmerdale Farm from 1980 to 1989, Ian Sharrock became renowned as something of a tearaway. Now living in Ripon with his wife he told the Harrogate Advertiser why he has settled down to a job he never expected.
Originally from Darley, Ian started acting at the age of 11 when he began attending drama school.
In the 1970s, he featured in a Disney film with Jodie Foster and David Niven, an Alan Clarke film with Ray Winstone, and a TV adaptation of Peter Pan with Mia Farrow.
It was, however, in the 1980s that he made his name when he returned to Yorkshire for a role in Emmerdale Farm.
Ian said: “I was in the show for ten years playing the character of Jackie Merrick who was described by the Harrogate Advertiser at the time as the James Dean of the Dales.
“I was a bit of a tearaway, getting into all kinds of trouble with guns and everything.
“I had a great time, but after ten years I was bored and needed to go. I got myself written out and became a jobbing actor again.”
Taking up roles in Heartbeat, The Bill, Casualty, and Where the Heart Is, Ian has been a fixture on the British screen since that time, returning to the limelight as the character Jed Maxwell in I’m Alan Partridge.
As Steve Coogan’s biggest fan, Ian described Jed as ‘the nutter who had a shrine to Partridge’. But now, after 40 years of acting, he has settled down to a home near his family roots, and all because he hopes to grow a family of his own.
“Up until last year I was still acting and I did two plays, but my wife and I want to become foster carers now. We have got a base in Ripon and we want to stay here, so now I have got a proper job,” he said.
As activities coordinator at BUPA Southlands nursing and residential home, where he started this week, Ian is responsible for catering activities to individuals, and he finds his skills as an actor have come in handy with the older people he helps every day.
He said: “What better job is there? I was actually made for it. BUPA are a wonderful company to work for and at Southlands it is a very close family atmosphere.
“I only started this week but I have been coming in and out of the place for the last month so I know people here and they way the company runs.
“I am in the process of going round meeting everybody and meeting each person as an individual, finding out what their interests are but also what their limitations are. Then I can structure something for that person that will stretch them a little bit but also entertain them.”
Ian readily admits that his new role is a very steep learning curve for him, but he said he is enjoying every moment and feels good about the positive effect of the work he does.
“It is a very nice and soothing thing to know you are making a difference in someone’s life, even if you are acting the fool, and everybody here is very appreciative of even the smallest thing you do, so to be here really making a difference stimulating people is great,” he said.
“Southlands is what is known as a lifestyle home, which means people have chosen to come here and as a result of that people are generally more active and it is my job to keep people entertained. It is especially good here because the care home environment can be a very stifling one for the residents.
“It is my responsibility to keep people mentally active and we do all sorts of different activities, including mind puzzles and PAT dogs coming in, and it is wonderful for the people here to be able to have that contact.
“We don’t just park the residents in front of the TV. Each person is treated as an individual and they have as many rights as anybody else and they are given choice in everything.
“That pays us dividends because they are happy and that is really what it is about.”