Last Friday, Anne and I put on our evening gear and headed to Leeds for the annual Royal Television Society awards.
We were part of a huge contingent from Daisybeck Studios, the Leeds-based production company responsible for producing not only The Yorkshire Vet, but Springtime on the Farm, Help the Animals at Christmas and the Britain’s Favourite… series, all of which had been nominated for awards. As we all descended on The Queens Hotel, there was a mounting excitement.
Over gin and tonics in the bar, the chatter was all about the chances of each of the nominees.
“Surely it’s our turn this year?” I had been heard to say on more than one occasion. Hot money was on the Britain’s Favourite series, although I suspected that Help the Animals at Christmas and Springtime on the Farm both had great chances of receiving a ‘gong’.
This was the fourth year in a row that The Yorkshire Vet had been nominated, this time in the category for Best Documentary. We had been unsuccessful so far, so I had given up the idea of preparing an acceptance speech.
However, since we were nominated in two categories this year, the odds of a win had at least doubled. Based on sheer volume of episodes alone, we surely had to have a decent chance of bagging the prize. As the wine was poured and the starters arrived, I rummaged for my pen to jot down a few thoughts. Just in case.
Paul Stead noticed this and came to offer some guidance: “If we win, Julian, just say a few words. Speak from your heart.”
I needed to pace myself with the wine because, even if we didn’t win, I would still be spending some time on the stage with my hands on a trophy. I’d been asked to present one of them; the award for One to Watch. It was the penultimate prize, so I sipped at a slow and steady pace.
But as the evening wore on, the tension started to rise and my resolution to maintain a sensible wine consumption weakened. Best Single Documentary, Best Presenter, Best Drama and Professional Excellence in Post Production all came and went with no prizes for Daisybeck. Everyone was getting more anxious but more excited and slightly more drunk.
Then came The Yorkshire Vet’s category: Best Documentary Series. “And the winner is… THE YORKSHIRE VET!” announced the host for the evening, the hilarious Reverend Kate Bottley.
An uproarious reaction erupted from the Daisybeck corner of the room. It was emotional, for many reasons. Much of the team had been there from the beginning over four years ago, and this was an important milestone we had reached together.
The passion and enthusiasm of Paul and his team, in particular the producer-directors with whom we, the vets, work so closely, has been infectious and tonight’s award was the culmination of all that work.
To be able to share what we do with anyone who cares to watch on a Tuesday night is reward in itself.
Vets and nurses, owners and patients get satisfaction from a happy outcome, but sharing this with one and a half million viewers is a wonderful thing. Winning an award is just the cherry on top. On stage, I realised I’d forgotten the notes I’d made, but it didn’t matter. I spoke from the heart.
Julian Norton’s new book, On Call with a Yorkshire Vet, is available for £11.99 at www.ypbookoffer.co.uk or call 01274 735056.