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Betty Eagleton (also Prendegast) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Paula Tilbrook. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 12 April 1994. Tilbrook announced her departure from the soap on 17 April 2015 and Betty departed on 25 May 2015. She made a cameo appearance on 25 December 2015 during a video call with some of the village residents. Betty was perhaps best known for her habit of gossiping about the residents of the village, her love of sherry and her relationship with Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards).
|Portrayed by||Paula Tilbrook|
|First appearance||12 April 1994|
|Last appearance||25 December 2015|
|Introduced by||Mervyn Watson|
Betty Prendagast was born in Beckindale on the 22 January, the year is only known to her as she is very reticent about her age. Her parents were Arthur and Nora and she had a sister, Margaret.
Betty left Beckindale in the early 1950s to work as a tiller girl in London, and was also on the game. She met a man called Reggie Wilkie and he got her pregnant. On seeing him with another woman, she had an abortion which made her unable to have children. She then returned to Beckindale and married old school friend, Wally Eagleton, in 1954. After 39 years of marriage, Wally died in 1993 and Betty returned to Beckindale after living in Filey.
When Betty arrived in 1994, she soon became known as one of the village gossips. She came into town looking for her old flame Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards). Betty then soon settled in and host a 1940s theme night in The Woolpack Pub at Christmas 1994. Betty then stood up for what she believed in, and even tried to call off Zoe Tate's (Leah Bracknell) lesbian wedding in 1996.
In 2000, her ex-boyfriend Reggie arrived in the village. It was transpired that Betty and Reggie dated while working in the Windmill Theatre in London. On the day she went to tell him she was expecting their baby, she found him in bed with another woman and had an abortion. This left her not to have any children of her own, which she kept as a secret. Knowing this, Reggie tried to blackmail Betty by threatening to tell Seth. Instead, Betty told him herself and Seth drove Reggie out of the village.
In 2004, Betty decided to visit her friend Kathy Glover (Malandra Burrows) in Australia and went on a long holiday. Seth joined her, but she got homesick and returned to Emmerdale alone several months later. She spent a lot of time with Seth in Australia. On his way home, Seth died on the aeroplane. Betty was waiting at the airport when Kathy told her.
During Seth's funeral, Betty took Seth's coffin and buried it in the countryside, helped by Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy),Zak Dingle (Steve Halliwell) and Sam Dingle (James Hooton). A fake coffin arrived containing a sack of sand and was buried in the Emmerdale cemetery. The funeral also saw the return of Betty and Seth's former lodger,Biff Fowler (Stuart Wade). Soon after, Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) moved in with Betty. After lamenting a lack of contact with his son,Terence Turner (Nick Brimble), Betty got in touch with him and convinced him to return to Emmerdale. It was revealed that Terence sexually abused his sister, Steph Stokes (Lorraine Chase), as a child. Unable to accept this, Alan lashed out at Betty and moved into Holdgate Farm with Terence. Alan later soon realised the truth and returned to live with Betty. Steph's new husband, Adam, murdered Terence soon after this, and both Adam and Steph were sent to jail for the crime they committed.
As Betty and Alan struggled to get over this, a new person entered Betty's life,Sandy Thomas(Freddie Jones), the father of local vicar, Ashley Thomas (John Middleton). Ashley and Sandy didn't get on following an argument, Sandy moved in with Betty and Alan.
When Mark Wylde's (Maxwell Caulfield) body was found, Betty thought it might have been Seth's and admitted to Alan that they buried him in Home Farm grounds and sandbags were buried at the cemetery.
In January 2011, the fire that spread through Emmerdale spread into Betty's house. She was saved by the residents and was taken into hospital suffering with smoke inhalation. Her friends Edna, Pearl and Alan helped Betty recover. Betty subsequently went on a six-month cruise, returning in July 2012. In October 2012, Betty sold her house to Victoria with herself and Alan as sitting tenants. This caused some problems, particularly when Victoria insisted on swapping bedrooms with Alan but has done a lot of repair work that Alan and Betty are no longer capable of doing it. It was reported in March 2013 that Betty had gone on a cruise.
Betty was saddened when Alan died in October 2013. Alan had recently returned from a biker tour and was very tired that evening. He died in his sleep that night. Along with Victoria, Sandy,Edna Birch (Shirley Stelfox), and Pearl Ladderbanks (Meg Johnson). They arranged a fitting funeral for him, and were shocked when his daughter,Steph, returned after a 7-year absence in prison. Betty was on the judging panel to decide who the next vicar of Emmerdale would be, between Ashley (who had been the vicar between 1996 and 2011) or newcomer Harriet Finch (Katherine Dow Blyton). Although Edna and Pearl were keen for Ashley to return, Betty felt that Harriet would be better able to modernise the church. In 2014 Ruby Haswell (Alicya Eyo), Ali's girlfriend, became pregnant, but tried to keep it a secret from Betty due to her reputation as a gossip.
In July 2014, Betty departed on a cruise around New Zealand by herself. She was due back in January but extended it to March. Betty returned to Emmerdale in May 2015, and she was furious when Victoria explained that she had stopped reading her emails because she found them boring. Betty announced that she was leaving Emmerdale to move back to Australia but made up with Victoria shortly before she left. On the day of her departure, Betty learned that Laurel is an alcoholic and told her to get clean. A crowd gathered to see Betty off, before her lover, Reuben Archibald (Edmund Herd), arrived in a limousine to take her away. On Christmas Day, she Skyped Victoria, who then took the laptop to the Woolpack where Betty talked to all of her friends. In March 2017, Finn Barton visited Betty in Australia for three weeks. In October 2017, Victoria rang Betty to tell her that Finn had died.
In April 2015, it was confirmed that Paula Tilbrook would be retiring and had already filmed her final scenes as Betty after 21 years, which would air in May. Speaking of her departure Tilbrook said: "Today is both the saddest and the happiest day of my life. Happy because I've got everyone here with me but the sad part is I'm leaving. But there is a great atmosphere and it is nice to go out on a high." Commenting on Tilbrook's decision to retire, Kate Oates, the series producer of the show said: "It's impossible to overstate how much everyone at Emmerdale will miss Paula. She's created a British television icon: someone who has lit up our screens and touched our hearts. "Off-screen, she is an integral part of the Emmerdale family: an inspiration to those she works with, as well as a fabulous raconteur and hilarious storyteller. We are sad to lose her from the programme, but wish her the happy retirement she so deserves."
Laura-Jane Tyler from Inside Soap praised the character during her final scenes, saying "She may be a touch frail these days, but Betty Eagleton proved she was still a force to be reckoned with in Emmerdale this week – funny, feisty and smart as a whip. They don't make 'em like actress Paula Tilbrook any more!"
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Kilkelly, Daniel. "Emmerdale star Paula Tilbrook to leave Betty Eagleton role". Digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- Tyler, Laura-Jane (30 May – 5 June 2015). "Hits & misses!". Inside Soap (21): 98.