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My Yorkshire: Bobby Knutt

Bobby Knutt was born Robert Andrew Wass in Sheffield in 1945, and first found fame as a stand-up comic on the legendary TV series The Comedians.

He married athlete Donna Hartley, an Olympic bronze medallist, in 1980. He has appeared in Coronation Street, Heartbeat and Last of the Summer Wine, and is writing a "warts and all" autobiography, Hey Oop Knutty!

What's your first Yorkshire memory?

Sheffield – it was where I was born and raised, and where I still live. Well, a few miles down the road. I can clearly recall sitting on the marble step of a local chip shop waiting for my dad to come home – he worked in a steel foundry. We didn't have enough cash for my mum to buy me any sweets, so she'd make up a cone of paper, and put some sugar and cocoa powder in that, and I'd wet my finger and dip it in. Nothing tasted so good.

What's your favourite part of the county – and why?

Whitby. I love all the countryside around there. The North York Moors Railway is spectacular. The wife and I had a really nice caravan up near Whitby for years, but we very reluctantly sold it about three years ago, because we never seemed to find enough time to get to it. I've regretted that ever since.

What's your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?

Waking up in Sheffield, getting in my old MG, and driving up to Whitby, stopping off at Trenchers for some fish and chips, and then buying some fresh crab or some lobster, and taking them home to cook them. I love cooking, it's my relaxation.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

That stretch of the road up on the North Riding Forest Park, where the land just falls away and forms a perfect gap, so that you can see for miles. Far better than the Grand Canyon any day. Exhilarating. And when a little train from the North York Moors Railway comes puffing along on the track in the distance, it's like going back 100 years. And I always used to love the Twin Towers – the power station buildings that were pulled down only recently…they looked so ugly, but when I saw them from the car, I knew I was nearly in Sheffield, and nearly home.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

Derek Dooley, the Sheffield Wednesday forward, sadly no longer with us, who was a great ambassador for my home city. He was one of life's gentlemen, and there's not many you can say that about. He went on to become managing director of Sheffield United.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

Marti Caine, again, sadly no longer with us. She had a vivacity that was an example to everyone, and a sense of humour that was second to none. When she found she had cancer, she didn't sit and cry, she went on fighting to the end. I was proud to know Marti as a friend.

If you had to name your Yorkshire "hidden gem", what would it be?

The little village of High Bradfield, on the outskirts of Sheffield, on the Derbyshire Road. No tourists ever go there, but it's got a beautiful little church, and a terrific local as a pub. And that's all I'm going to say, because I want to keep it as a "hidden gem"!

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

It's full of Yorkshire people – it's as simple as that.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

I am a rabid supporter of Sheffield United, and when we were beaten by Wolves this season – on my birthday,

of all nights – I wept into my ale. Sadly I don't have a season ticket any more, but that's not because I am not a great fan, it's purely Yorkshire thrift… I'm away from home so much, working dates all over the country and all over the world, that I can't get to all the matches I want to.

What about Yorkshire's cultural life?

Er, yes. I suppose that we have one, do we? I'm away so much that I wouldn't know. When I'm at home…I'm at home. My wife, bless her, calls me The Pilot Light because I never go out – especially to anything remotely "cultural".

Do you have a favourite restaurant,

or pub?

We do. It's called The Mangla, and it's in Sheffield, and it is the best curry place in the entire world. Superb food. It's only recently that they've gone slightly up-market, and allowed us customers to use knives and forks, instead of naan bread to eat it all up. I love it. If I don't go there for a while, I start to get withdrawal symptoms.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

It's my butcher's in Chapeltown, Crawshaws. The lads in there know their meat, and what they sell is just amazingly good. I love Barnsley and Doncaster markets as well…you hear of visiting Londoners coming up and bringing cool boxes with them to take away the produce, because they can't believe the value or the quality.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you've known it?

Sadly, not for the better, and I don't like change – I'm 63 now, and at that age

you want things to remain the same. Some of the things that they put up

now are nothing but monstrosities,

and they pulled down some lovely buildings that should be still standing. And I don't like what I hear in the

streets, either. Young lasses who can't string a simple sentence together without using a dozen swear words. What's all that about? And where has the letter "T" gone? You hear kids saying "bu-a" instead of "butter". And they use that fake Caribbean whiney accent, when they are as Yorkshire as you and I.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

My dad. He put food on the table, and he worked hard all his life. He didn't say a lot, but when he did – you listened. I think I get my gobby side from me mam.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

It is my whole life. I am so proud of this region. There's no one prouder. When I work on the cruise ships, I'm forever talking about Yorkshire, I'm a one-man tourist board for the place. There's a spirit here that is only equalled by that of the Geordies. No-one's ever said that they are proud of coming from Norfolk, now have they?

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

I read and read and read, I love a good book. Stephen Smith, who is my solicitor, has turned his hand to writing in recent years, books about his reminiscences of the legal business,

and they are beautifully done, and very funny. His first was Boozers, Ballcocks and Bail, and I'd recommend it to

anyone – along with the rest in the series. I'm also a great fan of Wilbur Smith, he spins a good yarn.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

Aladdin, at The Sheffield Lyceum, this season. Unmissable. But don't take it from me or the critics – listen to what the kids say.

Bobby is playing the Chinese Policeman in the pantomime Aladdin at the Sheffield Lyceum.

 
 
 

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