My Yorkshire: Jodie Whittaker

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Huddersfield-born Jodie Whittaker, 29, is starring in ITV’s suspense drama Marchlands. Jodie, who trained a Guildhall School of Music and Drama, has also appeared in Cranford and Wired on television.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Happily playing in the North Sea as a child, on holiday in Filey and obviously not noticing how freezing cold it was. And afterwards, losing a couple of quid of my hard-won pocket money on the 2p pushers in the penny arcade. Very disheartening.

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

Skelmanthorpe, that’s where I was raised, and I have many, many happy memories of my childhood and my family. That’s where my roots are.

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

Seeing my family and friends, and catching up on all the news and gossip. That’s a real treat, and I come up whenever I can. Funnily enough, Marchlands is set in Yorkshire, and when I was sent the script I thought “Oh, this is terrific – back home for a couple of months, seeing everyone in the evenings, and making a good series as well.” And then – would you believe it? – I found out that it was all going to be shot in the Home Counties, standing in for God’s Own County. That’s television for you, something is always masquerading as something else. I also love visiting York, it’s such a lovely city with so much to do and see, and not so long ago I had a brilliant stay at the Hotel Du Vin in Harrogate.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

The moors behind Holmfirth in the area where they shot a lot of Last of the Summer Wine. It’s so bleak but also so beautiful. It doesn’t matter what time of day, or what time of year it is, there’s always a different light in the sky, or different clouds, and different weather conditions, and something new to see.

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

Jenny Duncalf, a very under-rated lady, I think, and we ought to sing her praises a lot more. She’s the World Number 2 at Squash. I saw her play when I was about 14 and even then she truly kicked ass!

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

Jarvis Cocker, because he’s a legend. He can sing, he can write, he’s a great presenter on TV, he’s informed, and he’s from Sheffield. I’ve never met the gentleman, but if you’d care to set up the dinner for me, then I would be eternally grateful. I am in awe of the man.

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

There is an absolutely gorgeous walk around Langsett Reservoir, and the last time I was there, the path was under about three feet of snow which made it hard to walk at some points, but it was worth the effort. There’s certainly nothing down South (where I now have to live, for work reasons) to match it.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The accent. A lot of actors think that they can pull off a Yorkshire accent, but I never believe that they truly get it, it always turns out as a slightly cod “Eeee bah goom” thing that could be from anywhere north of Watford. Perhaps I should say “accents”, in the plural? Because Bradford is different from Huddersfield, which is different from Hull, which is different from Richmond. They all have a distinctive burr and feel to them.

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

I know where Huddersfield Town are in the table, but that’s as far as my county sport following goes, I’m afraid. I’m always pleased when they are doing well – same as the Yorkshire cricket team – but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to turn up to watch a match.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

Every time I come home I have a chicken makhani and peshwari naan from Solo’s Tandoori in my village. Going there is a fixture of any home visit, without fail. They are lovely people, and the food is superb. An absolute must, and I never have anything else on the menu. How unadventurous is that?

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Dixons ice cream shop in Lockwood, Huddersfield. I purposely drive a full 40 minutes out of my way to visit there, and that is another “have to do” on any trip home. It is simply the best ice cream outside of Italy. I could eat tons of it…

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

I think over the past 28 years the great thing to happen to Yorkshire is its growth in multiculturalism, embracing people from all over the place, all sorts of nationalities, and bringing them in to the communities. When I was at school everyone in my class was from the same village, but now people come to live in Yorkshire from all over the world. I think that’s a testament to how great a place it is to settle and to raise a family. I’m all in favour of that – it proves that Yorkshire people are something rather special, that they adapt and change, but still fundamentally have the same warm and loyal values.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

I’m keeping this in the family, because the answer is my father, Adrian Whittaker. He is the most generous, funny and proud Yorkshireman I know. I adore my dad, and I am mightily proud of him, in turn. He’s certainly encouraged me every step of the way. Maybe he doesn’t know how grateful I am to him.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Of course it has. I think everyone brings a bit of themselves to every job. Particularly when you are acting – you feed off all sorts of internal things. Things that have influenced you or which give you a different “take” on something. So my upbringing in West Yorkshire was and is hugely influential.

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

Am I being predictable here by revealing that my favourite book is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, which I actually read when I was in Thailand, and which I found quite randomly. Someone had left it there, I picked it up, and I was totally hooked. My favourite album is – you’ve guessed that Jarvis Cocker would pop up again – Different Class by Pulp, which reminds me, every time I hear it, of when I was in my teens, hanging out at my mate Gareth’s house because we were all far too young to go to the pub. Again, a lot of very fond memories.

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

I’d tell them that they just had to visit the Dales, because you can’t get more inspirational landscape than that. I love it when you’re walking or driving along, maybe on a road or in a valley that you think you know, and you turn a corner and something that you’ve never seen before, a new view, hits you in the eye. Where else in Britain do you get something like that? I’ll bet you that when this stranger had seen The Dales, they’d be back, time and time again, hungry for more.