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Sunday 21st July 2019

A short history of Emmerdale's Robert Sugden

Gay icon, loved up husband, occasional killer

Robert Sugden is one of the most complicated characters in Emmerdale. He's been both a killer and a cut-throat businessman yet since the birth of his son Seb and marriage to Aaron he's become a changed person.

Four actors - Richard Smith, Christopher Smith, Karl Davies and Ryan Hawley - have played Robert since he first appeared in 1986. Hawley, who joined in 2014, has been the biggest hit with viewers.

The pairing of Robert and Aaron, dubbed Robron by their millions of devoted fans, has been the gift that keeps on giving.

There have been spectacular fights, break ups, make ups, an unexpected baby, a 'Who Shot Robert' murder mystery and the Hotten bypass multiple pile-up which nearly killed them both.

As we unpack Robert's 33 year soap history it's a miracle he's still here to tell the tale.

Who are Robert Sugden's parents?

Jack (Clive Hornby) marries Pat (Helen Weir) (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Robert is the son of Jack and Pat Sugden. Pat Harker first dated farm lad Jack in her teens but they didn't get married until 1982 after Pat had separated from her first husband Tom Merrick.

Bouncing baby Robert Jacob arrived on April 22, 1986 which brought Jack and Pat closer together again after Jack had previously had an affair.

The family's joy was short lived when Pat died four months later in a car crash after swerving to avoid some sheep - a classic old school Emmerdale death.

Jack's marriage to Sarah (Alyson Spiro) was another tricky one (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

In December 1988 Jack and Sarah Connolly got together and it is his stepmum that brought Robert up until her horrific death in a farm blaze in 2000.

The last time Robert saw his dad was after Robert forced Andy's Land Rover off the road in a game of chicken, killing passenger Max King.

"You drive till you're

well away and you don't come back. Do you hear me? You're on your own." That was Jack's advice. Robert returned for his dad's funeral in 2009 and left a single rose on his grave.

Who are Robert Sugden's siblings?

Young Andy (Kelvin Fletcher), Victoria (Hannah Midgley) and Robert (Christopher Smith) (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Robert has a half-brother Tommy Merrick who left the village in 1972 with his mum Pat and has never returned.

He has two half sisters Sandie Merrick, who lives in Scotland with her dad Tom, and Victoria Sugden who is still in Emmerdale and was Robert's Best Person at his official wedding to Aaron last year.

Robert also had a brother, Jackie Merrick, who died in a shotgun accident in 1989 after going shooting with poacher Seth Armstrong.

Andy, Victoria (Isabel Hodgins) and Robert (Ryan Hawley) less well behaved as adults (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Last but by no means least is Robert's adoptive brother Andy. Jack and Sarah fostered Andy in 1996 with Robert often feeling that his mum and dad loved Andy more than they loved him.

Robert and Andy had to be pulled apart by Victoria on Andy's stag night and the adoptive brothers only resolved their differences when Robert helped Andy escape after he was wrongly imprisoned for the attempted murder of Lawrence White.

Why does Robert Sugden hate his adoptive brother Andy?

Sarah and her lover Richie Carter perish in the fire (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

When Andy set fire to his dad's barn hoping that the insurance would save the farm from going under he had no idea that Sarah his adoptive mum was inside.

The thought of her being burned alive haunted Robert and he couldn't wait to hurt Andy in whatever way he could.

It was this that led Robert to start an affair with Andy's childhood sweetheart Katie Addyman which would have terrible consequences of its own after Andy and Katie got engaged..

Did Robert Sugden kill his sister-in-law Katie?

Robert (Karl Davies) looks on as Andy marries Katie (Sammy Winward) (Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Katie and Andy got married in 2004 but it wasn't long before Robert and Katie confessed to their affair shattering Andy's world.

Years later Katie and Andy built bridges after she helped him recover from clinical depression but it wasn't until 2014 that they properly got back together - just as Robert returned to the village.

The feud between the adoptive brothers was reignited with Robert humiliating Katie on her wedding day by having the inside of her wedding ring inscribed with 'The Village Bike'.

Katie makes Robert's wedding day by breaking her neck (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

When Katie discovered Robert was having an affair with Aaron she confronted Aaron at Wylie's Farm on the day that Robert married Chrissie White.

Robert showed up after Aaron left and got into an argument with Katie. He pushed her, the floorboards gave way and she broke her neck. So yes, he did kill Katie.

How did Robert Sugden hook up with Aaron Dingle?

And Robron is all systems go! (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

It was a classic bit of Robert manipulation. After Robert found out Aaron was gay he pretended his car had broken down and called Aaron out to fix it.

Their initial kiss was a lunge by Robert in a lay-by outside the village. But later that day they met up again at the garage and things got hot and heavy in the back of a car.

Although Robert was still very much with Chrissie that was the start of one of Emmerdale's most sizzling relationships and one that has proved ground-breaking for the show.

How many weddings have Robron had?

Any excuse for a snog (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

There were times when it looked like it would never happen at all. Aaron was jealous of Robert's relationships with both Chrissie and Rebecca, and Robert couldn't cope with Aaron's insecurities.

They were going to marry in Vegas but after Aaron was arrested for defending Finn Barton's honour and beating up Kasim Sabet, Robert arranged a surprise unofficial wedding in The Woolpack.

Their marriage appeared to be torpedoed when in a moment of drunken weakness Robert had a one-night stand with Rebecca White while Aaron was in prison.

Aaron then started dating nurse Alex but Aaron's feelings for Robert were too strong and they split up and RobRon had their emotional reunion walking hand in hand to Adele's Make You Feel My Love

Robert proposed to Aaron in the lay-by where they first kissed and there wasn't a dry eye in Soapland when RobRon officially married as Mr Sugden-Dingle.

"Come on, put your foot down," said Robert as they headed off on honeymoon. "My real present is getting you out of that suit."

Read more: Extra great Robron wedding moments 

How many people has Robert Sugden killed?

Robert and Chrissie (Louise Marwood) watch the helicopter plummet (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

Robert would argue that he has never killed anyone. Not deliberately. But from Max King onwards there have been plenty that have perished in the village with his paw prints all over it.

That fatal push that sent Katie on her way was nothing compared to the carnage that Robert and Chrissie caused when she set fire to his car after he goaded her.

Some nearby gas canisters exploded which took out a helicopter, its pilot, Val Pollard and Ruby Haswell.

Robert also left Paddy to die in a grain pit at Butler's farm and shot him with a pistol. And there were numerous occasions when he almost did in father-in-law Lawrence White.

Body count so far then? We'll call it a conservative six.

Who is the mother of Robert's son Seb?

Time to make a baby with Rebecca (Emily Head) (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

That'll be his one time sister-in-law Rebecca White. Robert and Rebecca had previously had a thing before the Whites moved intoto Home Farm and there was always a crackle between them.

The night of drunken foolishness came after Aaron had refused to see Robert when he was having a tough time being abused in prison and had taken drugs to numb the pain.

Robert hoped he could cover it up but the guilt (a new sensation for Robert) proved too much. And things became a whole lot more complicated when Rebecca realised she was pregnant.

At first Robert tried to persuade Rebecca to have an abortion but when young Seb was finally born Robert's life changed and he vowed to be there for his son.

This new improved Robert was tested when Rebecca tried to run away with Seb to Australia. Robert abducted Seb, and Chrissie and Lawrence died in a car crash as Rebecca chased after him.

It's a measure of how much Robert has grown that after Rebecca was kidnapped by her psychotic nephew Lachlan Robert allowed Rebecca to start a new life with Ross Barton and Seb in Liverpool.

In case there was any doubt that Seb really is Robert's son, the side-eye that the baby gave Lachlan when he threatened to kill Rebecca in front of him was 100% Robert.

What is Robert's sexuality?

Robert prepares to unburden himself (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

In his teens Robert slept with various girls. He lost his virginity to Nicola Blackstock before moving on to Elaine Marsden and his affair with Katie.

He was seduced by Sadie King in 2005 and then dated Debbie Dingle just to wind up Andy who is the father of Debbie's daughter Sarah.

When he returned to the village the only women he got involved with were fiance Chrissie and later her sister Rebecca.

So by the time he started up with Aaron there were a few questions which he finally answered when Aaron was worried that he could go off with another woman again.

"I'm bisexual, ok," said Robert. "I like both and it doesn't mean that I'm gonna cheat." His dad Jack caught him with a lad when Robert was 15 and after that he suppressed his emotions.

"I spent all this time, years trying to be the person he (Jack) wanted me to be. I just want to be myself now. With you."

A classic Robert Sugden quote:

Robert loved running rings around Lawrence (John Bowe) (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

"What I was good at was sucking up to you. Oh yeah, I'll admit it. I led you on. Made you think there might be something there. It was easy really. All I had to do was laugh at your jokes. A bit of flirting. A bit of flattery. Oh yeah, blokes can do that nowadays.

"It's not like in your day when real men wouldn't be seen dead with people like you. And then you introduced me to Chrissie and I couldn't pretend anymore. And it killed you. It killed you to realise you'd been played."  Robert toys with hated father-in-law Lawrence White.

What is your favourite Robert moment? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think