Born to Oliver Skilbeck and Elizabeth Skilbeck. Matt's parents died when he was 9 years old. Matt had a maternal cousin called Polly who he lost contact with. While his Aunt Beattie was taking care of his grandmother, he had to live in a boys' home; when his grandmother died, Beattie took him in.
Matt married Peggy, Jacob and Annie Sugden's daughter in 1968. He helped out on the Sugdens' farm but Peggy became concerned for their future when the farm was bequeathed to her brother Jack after Jacob Sugden's death in 1972. After finding out she was pregnant, Peggy encouraged Matt to pursue a factory job in Hotten. At his interview at the factory Matt objected to being described as an "unskilled laborer" and stayed on in Beckindale to work for Emmerdale Farm Ltd.
Peggy gave birth to twins, Sam and Sally, but died of a brain hemorrhage soon after. Upon his wife's death, Matt inherited her shares in Emmerdale Farm Ltd. The twins were sent to live with Matt's Auntie Beattie but all three were killed in a car crash when the children were just three years old.
Matt married The Woolpack barmaid Dolly Acaster on 29th June 1978. Matt and Dolly converted a barn attached to the Emmerdale Farm house into a cottage, and moved on the 26th October 1982 episode. Their son Samuel was born in December 1982, and was named after Matt's first-born son. Matt's former grandfather-in-law Sam Pearson was pleased with the naming decision.
In late 1985, quarry owner Harry Mowlam began harassing Dolly, to the couple's distress. Mowlam believed he had an old score to settle as Matt had taken the dog that Mowlam was ill treating away from him in 1983. Early in 1986, Matt became engaged in a physical struggle with Mowlam after finding him stealing sheep. The following morning, Mowlam was found dead and Matt was charged with manslaughter. Matt was cleared when Mowlam's crooked associate Derek Warner confessed to the crime.
In late 1987 Matt discovered that he had inherited Crossgill Farm from the previous owner. Dolly insisted that they move out of Emmerdale but Matt refused. Dolly and Matt began to grow apart resulting in her affair with timber consultant Stephen Fuller in 1988. Crossgill's farmhouse ended up burning down.
"No." (first line)
"Poor old fella..." (Upon finding Mr Metcalfe's dead body)
"Take care Ma. Thanks for everything." (final line)
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