Stan Richards

Actor & Comedian

8th December 1930 - 11th Feb 2005

Yorkshire born actor Stan Richards, was best known to television viewers for his portrayal of Seth Armstrong, the poacher turned gamekeeper in the ITV soap Emmerdale, died on February 11 2005, aged 74. Seth was one of the soaps most colourful characters, a rogue-like figure who might have stepped from the pages of Dickens.

Born Stanley Richardson in Barnsley, South Yorkshire on December 8, 1930 he began playing the piano at the age of ten. His first job was as a Ministry of Labour clerk and later he worked in the accounts department of a firm that sold disinfectants. He began singing and telling jokes with dance bands in local clubs and pubs in the evenings and at 21 formed a group The Melody Maniacs. In 1965 he turned professional with a vocal comedy quartet, The Four Renowns, and three years later he branched out as a solo comedy entertainer touring the northern clubs.

Spotted by a BBC producer, he was offered a leading role as a coal miner in Barry Hines’ acclaimed 1977 Play for Today, The Price of Coal, opposite fellow northern comedian Bobby Knutt. The production, directed by Ken Loach, led to other television appearances, including Crown Court, All Creatures Great and Small and, most notably, as Councillor Arthur Stokes in Coronation Street.

It was however his role as Seth Armstrong that made Richards a national name and he recieved huge fan mail each week from viewers and gifts of woolly hats. In the mid-eighties the programme was given a makeover and grittier plots were introduced. Meaner characters and extra-marital liasons became the norm, although the character of Seth remained unchanged.

In 2002 Richards was presented to the Queen when she visited the Emmerdale set and in 2005 he toasted 25 years in the series.

Offscreen Richards was involved in several showbusiness charities and was a member of the British Music Hall Society. He was struck by tragedy in 2004 when his son, Irvin, 36, the youngest of six children, died in a road accident. Richards had suffered from emphysema and shortly before his death he was admitted to hospital after suffering a collapsed lung. His wife, Susan, whom he married in 1952 died in 1994. He died peacefully in his sleep and was survived by two sons and three daughters.

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