Anthony 'Tony' Cairns arrived in Emmerdale in February 1997 with his family after retiring early from the army. When his youngest daughter Emma gave birth to a baby girl who she named Geri at the young age of 13, Tony wanted her to have Geri adopted, to which Emma initially went along with. However, she defied her father and changed her mind when she grew close to her baby daughter. Tony left with Becky for Germany in April 1998.
Tony's portrayer, Edward Peel, had previously appeared in Emmerdale as the second actor to play Tom Merrick in the early 1980s, making him the only actor in Emmerdale's history to play two different characters in two different regular roles.