Seth Armstrong

Seth Armstrong
Emmerdale character
Portrayed by Stan Richards
Duration 1978–2004
First appearance 16 May 1978
Last appearance 24 December 2004
Introduced by Michael Glynn (1978)
Steve Frost (2004)
Classification Former; regular
Occupation Gamekeeper (retired)

Archibald Seth Armstrong was a long running fictional character in the ITV soap Emmerdale, played by Stan Richards from 1978 until 2004. The role of Seth began as a temporary "bit part", due to appear for just a few episodes, but proved so popular that further appearances were made until Seth became a full-time regular character in the summer of 1980 when he switched from the Malt Shovel to The Woolpack and continuously annoyed the landlord Amos Brearly and latter Alan Turner who took over in 1991 when Amos left who memorably often shouted "Get out Seth!". Seth is one of the longest running characters in the history of Emmerdale, and serves as the fourth longest running character in the history of the show.

His memorable storylines included his turbulent relationship with Betty Eagleton, dealing with guilt over his role in the death of Jackie Merrick, the death of his wife Meg, a friendship with Kim Tate and in his later years, his ailing health. After appearing as a semi-regular character from 1978 to 1980, permanently from 1980 to 2003 and as a guest character in 2004, Richards was expected to return to the serial, but his death in February 2005 prevented this and producers opted to rest the character as a result, with Seth dying on the flight over from Australia back to the village.

Seth has been mentioned on numerous occasions since his death, and is remembered as one of the serial's most iconic characters.



Seth Armstrong was born on 12 November 1926 and grew up in Beckindale. He had a sister who later moved to Worthing. He was found out to be an illegal descendant of nobles Verney family. Seth romanced young Betty Pendagast in 1944 and they almost married. He later got married in 1952 to Meg and they had two children, Jimmy in 1953 and Freddie followed about 9 years later.


Seth started out as the school's boiler man living with his wife, Meg. He was a poacher but became gamekeeper in 1980. He swapped the Malt Shovel (Beckindale's other pub) for the Woolpack that summer. In 1981, he forced local hardnut Tom Merrick out of the village after he tried to frame Jack Sugden in an arson attack. Seth and Meg had marriage difficulties in 1983, which resulted in him sleeping in a shed at Home Farm. However, he won her back with a bottle of port. Two years later, he opened up a NY social club to create rivalry for The Woolpack but the beer made everyone ill and he only made a profit of 10p before closing down. He later hired entertainment for The Woolpack by getting strippers who could tame snakes to entertain the pub but Amos refused to allow it.

In 1983, it was revealed that Seth was in fact his middle name as his NY Estates work records said A.S. Armstrong. Jackie Merrick asked him what the A stood for and Seth replied "Archibald". He was never known as Archibald and always used his middle name as his common name. Archibald Seth Armstrong was his full name.

In August 1989, a fox was bothering Beckindale; Seth and Jackie went into the woods to shoot it but Jackie accidentally shot himself. Seth was devastated and felt it should have been him who died.

An amusing postscript occurred in 1991, when Alan Turner and Henry Wilks read Amos Brearly's diaries and discovered that Seth was, in fact, an illegal descendant of the Verney family. However, any possible claims to ownership of Home Farm was obscured by NY's purchase and subsequent sale to Frank Tate.

In February 1993, Meg died and Seth's neighbours helped him with the house work to help him overcome his grief. More trouble arose for him in December when his house was destroyed due to the Emmerdale plane crash. Alan feared Seth had been killed as he had thrown him out of the Woolpack just before the crash happened, fortunately he was fine. Things looked up for him in 1994 when he met old flame, Betty Eagleton, who had also just been widowed. They planned to marry but decided to live together and made their relationship official in December 1994 with a 40s-themed night, moving into Keepers Cottage together a year later. Seth was also claimed a hero that year after accidentally shooting "the beast of Beckindale".

Seth was friends with Kim Tate and tried to unsuccessfully defend her in January 1997 after her lover, Dave Glover, died and everyone turned on her for her affair with Dave. He later gave her away when she married Steve Marchant in 1998. Seth went to visit his sister in Worthing that year. In October 1998, Seth was chosen to officially reopen the Woolpack after it burned down. He did and got his own seat at the pub.

In March 2000, Seth was caught in the bus crash and Betty feared he had been killed. However, he was found alive and in hospital. Things got worse for Seth in September when he won money on the horses but was later mugged by some young girls and briefly developed agoraphobia. However, the villagers helped bring him out of it. Later that year he celebrated his 74th birthday which the village had thought was his 75th and threw him a party in The Woolpack, however he decided not to tell them.

Seth got a computer in 2002 and had a webcam set up by Robert Sugden which Seth used to show Betty's daily routine getting himself free breakfasts at Cafe Hope in return. When Edna Birch told Betty what he was doing, she was heartbroken and left Seth telling him via webcam but Seth apologized publicly and they reunited. Seth and Betty separated again in December 2002 when Betty visited Kathy Brookman and her newborn baby in Australia. She returned in March 2003, full of how great Australia was. Seth was worried she may move there but she assured him she'd never leave Emmerdale. In September 2003, Seth went to visit Kathy and never returned. Betty was upset when he failed to return for Christmas but he made up for it by booking her a flight to visit him in Australia. Seth made two final cameo appearances in 2004: a telephone message left on Betty's answering machine and finally on the Internet, as seen on a laptop in The Woolpack that Christmas Eve. Richards was keen to reprise his role, but on 11 February 2005, he died of emphysema and several months later, out of respect for the actor, an off-screen death for the character was included. Seth died on 30 October 2005 from a heart attack after having been ill for a while in Australia, whilst on the plane flying back to England from Australia.

Seth's remains were buried illegally in the woods in a storyline that was briefly revisited in July 2010 after the discovery of a body in the same woods, Mark Wylde. In June 2013, murder victim Alex Moss's remains were discovered in the woods. Unable to identify it, Megan Macey mentions it may be those of a poacher (Seth) who was buried in the woods, according to the Dingles. When Betty leaves the village in 2015 with her new fiancé, she visits Seth's burial place and bids a last goodbye to him, telling him that she will never forget about him.

See also

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