All Creatures Great and Small star Paul Hawkyard says he's a 'professional Yorkshireman'

Leeds-born Paul Hawkyard is an acclaimed actor and artist. He played farmer William Henry in All Creatures Great and Small and on TV he had a long association with Bernard Cribbins playing Ernie Starboard in Old Jack’s Boat.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

My dad worked away quite a lot, but when he came home, he’d always take us kids out somewhere to give my mum a bit of a break. One time, we got the bus up to Knaresborough, and we went to Mother Shipton’s Cave. For some reason best known to myself, I’d taken my shrimping net with me, and so that we didn’t have to cart it all the way back home again, I left it there, along with all those other objects that slowly calcify into rocks.

What’s your favourite part of the county?

Paul Hawkyard loves the view of the Hole of Horcum, near PickeringPaul Hawkyard loves the view of the Hole of Horcum, near Pickering
Paul Hawkyard loves the view of the Hole of Horcum, near Pickering

I’ve always loved York, it’s such a magical place, and I have very happy memories of times at the theatre, working with some amazing people. I

What’s your idea of a perfect day out?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Going up to Top Hill Law nature reserve near Pocklington, and watching the wildlife. I was sitting in a hide one time, with some other enthusiasts, and a kingfisher flew past – both beautiful and magnificent.

Do you have a favourite walk/view?

Walkers enjoy the view during their walk along the top of the Hole of Horcum, near Pickering.  Picture: Gerard BinksWalkers enjoy the view during their walk along the top of the Hole of Horcum, near Pickering.  Picture: Gerard Binks
Walkers enjoy the view during their walk along the top of the Hole of Horcum, near Pickering. Picture: Gerard Binks

It’s stopping the car at the Hole of Horcum, and getting out, crossing the road, and just drinking in the scenery. I feel sorry for the motorists who whizz past without even glancing at the wonders around them. It’s made perfect if a steam train puffs past in the bottom of the valley.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson would you like to take for lunch?

Jessica Ennis-Hill. She’s just beautiful in every way. Extraordinarily gifted on the track, kind, generous, a role model for youngsters. And, for company, can I also invite Wakefield Trinity’s Luke Gale? I used to go to school with his mum and dad.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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

Dame Judi Dench. She’s not just a Yorkshire treasure, or a National Treasure, she’s our amazing International Treasure. Somehow, her talent, her warmth of spirit, radiates from within. I’ve never, so far, got to meet her, but oh, how I wish. She was one of the donors when we did those Shakespeare’s in York, and her generosity and encouragement won’t be forgotten.

What is your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’?

Selby Abbey, one of the most wonderful buildings in the county, and one which just doesn’t get the visitors it deserves. Nicola and I did some performances for the local council outside the Abbey not so long ago, and I parked my car nearby, only to return several hours later to discover that I’d over-run my ticket, and that I’d got a hefty fine. That fine was just about what the council had offered me as a fee!

If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a day, what would it be?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster, so that I could roam at will, with my camera, and take as many pictures as I could, of all the wonderful creatures that they home in that glorious space. Everything from polar bears to panthers. I’d be in my seventh heaven.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people, 100 per cent. Funny, friendly, straightforward, welcoming, honest. You know a Yorkshire person straight away when you meet them. If you are ever lucky enough to meet John Godber, there’s your quintessential Yorkshireman to a ‘t’.

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

As a kid, I used to be taken to see Leeds United, back in the glory days of Don Revie and Billy Bremner, and we were, back them, allowed on the pitch after the match. Bremner once spoke to me, and as a kid, I was thrilled. I watch some rugby, and some boxing, but I’ve not, these days, got an allegiance to one particular team.

Do you have a favourite restaurant/pub?

The Wheatsheaf, at Burn. It’s full of amazing memorabilia from the RAF base that used to operate down the road, and yet it’s the cleanest pub I’ve ever been in. Spotless. The locals are a lovely bunch, and their Sunday roasts are not only delicious, but also great value for money.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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

It’s a sadness, to me, that so many of the places where I used to get out to on my bike as a youngster, and to explore, are now vanished – built over with housing and other developments. I know that people need somewhere to live, but I do question why certain places are chosen, and I loathe the felling of so many trees.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

Guy Fawkes. They say that he was “the only man ever to enter Parliament with the best of intentions”, and I reckon that they are right! Apart from him, and more seriously, William Wilberforce, who led the way in the fight to abolish slavery with an admirable tenacity and single-mindedness.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

I bill myself as a “professional Yorkshireman”, and I am, it’s what I do. I never went to drama school, I was in the National Youth Theatre, and the Leeds Youth Players, and then I got a job at Leeds City Varieties, just sweeping up and helping out, and I watched everyone and everything.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book, writer, performer, CD?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I once lived on a narrowboat on a canal and there was a little latrine block and provisions place across the towpath, where people used to leave books for swapping. One day, I found a copy of All Creatures Great and Small, and fell in love with it . Little did I know that, many years on, I’d be in the television version.

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

Whitby and Staithes. That dear man Bernard Cribbins and I used to have so much fun up there when we were making Old Jack’s Boat. It all has a very special place in my heart.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.