What’s your first Yorkshire memory? A school trip to York when I was seven years old to see the Mallard and Stevenson’s Rocket at the National Railway Museum. I was born in Lancashire but I have now lived in Yorkshire for longer than I haven’t. My children are Yorkshire born and bred. They have that unique Yorkshire confidence and pride in their county which is similar to the Liverpudlian phenomenon of having to mention to outsiders, within the first 30 seconds of a conversation, where they’re from and how brilliant it is and how much better Yorkshire is than everywhere else. It isn’t taught, it’s ingrained in the Yorkshire psyche.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? I chose to live in my favourite part of the county; Calderdale. You can keep the peacocking of Harrogate and the bustle of Leeds. There is nowhere in England like Hebden Bridge and its outlying area. It is beautiful and untainted.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? We walk the dogs a lot. There’s a huge sprawling moorland directly above us which stretches over to Haworth. They say in London you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat but in Yorkshire, you’re never more than 20 minutes away from the most beautiful places on this earth.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? The walk from Midgley to Churn Milk Joan (standing stone) or even The Miller’s Grave (burial mound) on the moors is perfect. We’ve done it at the height of summer when you can see over to Emley Moor and beyond, and in the middle of snow storms in winter with ski goggles. The scope of the view is ridiculous, (without a single pylon), rewarding when you reach the top and it’s downhill all the way back!
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why? Charlie Chuck, who is one of Yorkshire’s most original acts. He is totally unique. He has one foot in the vaudeville tradition and one foot in the modern alternative comedy. He should be celebrated and held up as one of Yorkshire’s primary comics. He’s archetypal, authentic, iconic, inherently Yorkshire and there is simply no one else like him.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? This is Calderdale. The whole place is a hidden gem. The Heart Gallery and Hot Cakes in Hebden Bridge, May’s Shop in Heptonstall. The Irish Session night at The White Lion in Heptonstall, Sunday Lunch at The Pack Horse in Widdop (don’t ask for chips, just don’t), Muse Music for records and food and Two Tone Comics for... well, comics in Hebden Bridge, Castle Carr, Retro Games Fair in Leeds, Midgley Community Shop. Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax (which won’t be hidden for long), the Lantern in Halifax and The Trades Club for live music.
How do you immerse yourself in Yorkshire’s cultural life? I still see an awful lot of live music and theatre.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? We jump between The Cat I’ the Well and the Lord Nelson in Luddenden. We also have lunch at Muse Music (or Sid’s as we know it) as a family every weekend in Hebden Bridge. Sid DJ’s while his wife Val serves food. It’s very eclectic in that he plays everything from dub, house and garage punk to prog rock and Captain Beefheart and he won’t turn it down for anyone.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Midgley Community Shop has everything we need. Locally sourced meat and veg along with essentials. We were all snowed in twice this year and the shop was still open for logs, coal and milk. Craggies in Cragg Vale is fantastic for local produce Friendly and informed as to what they are selling and what is in it.
Do you ever sell Yorkshire to others? I do. There’s no need to be in London when most people I know, who work there work at a laptop. Come up here and breathe, walk, live and experience Yorkshire.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? Considering I was a welder in Accrington on a YTS scheme then an unemployed actor in London, I owe Yorkshire everything. I love Emmerdale intensely and I’m fiercely loyal towards the programme and the county. There is a building at ITV in Leeds where people work passionately towards bringing Emmerdale to TV screens. The crew and admin upstairs are the best at what they do and we can only hope to try and match their hard work as a cast.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m currently getting my teeth into a big storyline with Emmerdale which will extend until October. My wife and I have been very lucky in that we set up making feature films as a couple eight years ago and we continue to successfully deliver a feature every two or three years as a commercial enterprise. Our first film Before Dawn plays at The Square Chapel, Halifax arts centre as part of a double bill with Night of the Living Dead on May 6 as part of a mini zombie film festival. I’ll be there for a Q&A if you wanted to come and say hello.