My Yorkshire: Graham Relton

Graham Relton is the project manager for the Yorkshire Film Archive's Online project.

What's your first Yorkshire memory?

I'd have been about three or four years old, and my elder brother James and I were both taking part in the Primrose Hill Primary School summer fair's fancy dress competition. We were dressed as the motorcycle duo from the TV series Chips. We had the lot – papier-mch helmets, police uniforms and pint-sized motorbikes. I can remember that my mum and dad spent what seemed like ages getting everything right. We won first prize, something that we repeated the year after, when we entered as Action Men complete with cardboard jeep and tank. I think that I got a prize the following year, too – I went as Gandhi.

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

York, there's always some sort of festival or event going on, and there are still some wonderful old pubs. I love to see York Minster at different times of day – the changing light seems to bring it alive. The history of the city just seems to surround you, and although I've lived there for five years there's always something new and fresh to discover.

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

A long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, and a family drive out to somewhere like Aysgarth Falls and a nice pub lunch with a pint of two at Hawes or Leyburn. Then a good afternoon's walk before stumbling across a nice country B&B. The next day, more of the same, with the rolling hills, the drystone walls and wonderful views, with a stop-off at somewhere like Grassington.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

Probably a good sunny walk with the family along the cliff tops at Flamborough Head, with the stunning vista of the North Head, the migrating birds and the lifeboat station. Another choice would be Ravenscar – this year I took my first trip up there with my wife Keira and our daughter Juniper, who is only seven months. We stopped off for a picnic on the way, and enjoyed the views around Robin Hood's Bay. Amazing and breathtaking.

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

I am a big Leeds United fan, and some of the players from the 1991-92 league season spring to mind – Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, Gary Speed, even Eric Cantona, but sadly many of them aren't from Yorkshire. So I'm going to go for a catch-up with my old mate and school friend Matthew Hoggard, who, although he now plays for Leicestershire, will always be remembered and regarded as a great Yorkshire and England cricketer.

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

Michael Palin, who would obviously have a lot of tales to tell. Of course he's probably best known as the Monty Python straight man, but I'd be far more interested in talking to him about his globe-trotting. In fact, Mr Palin was the inspiration for my partner and me to quit our jobs at the National Rail Museum, and to go travelling for a year. We visited 16 countries in all, and managed to get married in Fiji en route.

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

My wife would surely say The Forbidden Corner, near Leyburn in the Dales. My personal and hugely biased hidden gem is the Yorkshire Film Archive. Hidden in our vaults are still so many unseen films that I want to get back out into the communities where they were made.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

Where to start? Since it is the biggest county in England, it has so much to offer. What I really feel gives us that something special is the people. On the whole the Yorkshire folk are friendly, warm-hearted and welcoming as well as being down to earth. I love the way that the dialect changes as you move around the county – I do quite a lot of travelling presenting shows from the archive, and I always love to hear the differences there are.

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

Leeds United is in my blood. I remember first watching them as a lad when they were in the old Division Two. I was devastated in 1987 when we missed out on promotion. I did however have a season ticket when we won the old First Division championship in the 1991-92 season. My personal sporting claim to fame is that I have scored at Elland Road (at the Co-op End) with a header. It was for Farsley Celtic under 16's in the 1993 Minor Cup Final. And yes, it is on video. Somewhere.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

When I lived in Pudsey I would have gone for The Olive Tree, a fantastic Greek restaurant in Rodley. Now that I live in York, I'm going for Melton's Too, on Walmgate – they proclaim themselves as being "passionate about regional produce" and that's exactly what they are. Everything's fresh, so nothing gets "messed about", and they have all sorts of events.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

We're based in the York St John University and under a minute away there's a great little deli on Gillygate called Tarts and Titbits. The chap who runs it is quite a character – to my shame I don't know his name, but in the archive he's been nicknamed the Quiche Man, because we're always going in for one thing, coming out with it – and a few other bits and pieces. He is incredibly enthusiastic – and persuasive.

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

As a child growing up in Pudsey, Leeds and Bradford always seemed to be very much on a par, but then Leeds seemed to get a lot of investment thrown at it. Looking out from the bus windows there was always something being sandblasted back to cleanliness, or being put up. Leeds can rightly claim to be the unofficial capital of the North. I'm rather saddened that Bradford is regarded as the poorer cousin – it too has much to recommend it like the National Media Museum and it has great potential.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

The ones who impress me are not the ones in the limelight, but the ones who work tirelessly and unselfishly for the community. The everyday man or woman in the street who is making a difference to where they live. It's the folk who don't get the recognition that they deserve that I admire the most.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

How could it not, the archive has 16,000 items in the collection, and in the past three years I've been selecting those to appear on our moving image website and it's been no easy task, because there is so much great footage to chose from. One thing is certain – 50 hours of footage on line at the moment is just the very start…

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

Being a new dad, I've very little time for reading at the moment, but I enjoy Gervase Phinn's books and his accounts of teaching and of being a school inspector. I'm also an ageing rocker at heart, and at school I set up a band (I played the drums) with some mates, two of whom, John Emsley and Paul Gautrey kept on getting better and better, and who are now making a living in the music world in their band The Glitterati.

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

A tough one, but it has to be York. After all, Yorkshire is named after the city, and I am convinced that even after a fleeting visit, the stranger would be so fascinated and enthused by what they found, they'd want to find out more and more about this wonderful part of the world.

The Yorkshire Film Archive is the first regional film archive to make over 50 hours of collections available online via an interactive moving image website. Packed with fascinating films, background information and images, see YFA Online (

YP MAG 11/12/10