What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Looking out of our garden at The Chevin and across to Guiseley and Menston. We lived there until I was ten, and I’ve a lot of happy memories. I remember meeting Richard Whiteley when he came to a party at our house. It was the year he was bitten by the ferret. I wore all my hats for him, and he was very patient. I still have a vast hat collection now.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? It almost depends on my mood. I spent most of my later childhood in the Dales, near Grassington, and lived there with my children too. Upper Wharfedale is where my heart is. I love to cycle there and walk and visit pubs. It’s a magical place to live. As children, we often stayed in Scarborough in a flat on The Esplanade. I’m not sure there’s a better view in the world than opening the curtains when the sun’s coming up and looking out over the South Bay.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? I suppose a lot of people head from cities and towns to the country, but I’ve been in the country most of the time so I head the other way. A day trip to Bradford with the National Science and Media Museum and fabulous restaurants. I used to go with my parents and children to the pantomime at The Alhambra and then they’d all be flat out after a curry on the way home.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? There’s a bike ride I do, it’s a favourite for a lot of people, but you have to know your way – it’s up Wharfedale from Grassington and into Littondale. The roads get quieter and narrower until you arrive in Halton Gill. There’s a brilliant self-serve tea shop there. Then you climb up the hill towards Settle, but you turn left and head over the moor past Malham Tarn and suddenly descend back into the verdant valley. Then it’s through Winterburn and Hetton and back home. It’s the perfect trip out after work in the summer.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why? I was delighted to have met Richard Whiteley a few times. Not only was he the first celebrity I met, he was the first celebrity my daughter met when she was just a couple of months old. I am lucky that I have taken one current screen star to lunch, as I work with Dominic West. I chose the wine.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be? L’Uva Vino e Cucina in York. There are some brilliant restaurants in York, but this is a gem.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Nowhere else looks the same, or has quite the same diversity. I love that you can drive from bucolic countryside to gritty, industrial landscapes and back again within an hour. I’ve sold wine in every corner of Yorkshire, and although there’s huge variety, there’s a unique and united sense of pride in being from Yorkshire among the people.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? I’ve been drinking in The Fountaine, in Linton, for 30 years. It’s changed a lot but it’s always been my favourite. I’ll be honest – I eat quite a lot of fish and chips from Bizzie Lizzie’s, in Skipton.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Am I allowed a favourite wine shop? I started my wine career at The Wright Wine Company, in Skipton. Julian the boss and I were both young lads and he’d started a little bit before me. He took it on when our mentor, Bob Wright, died suddenly. And it’s one of the country’s finest wine merchants.
Do you ever find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to others? All the time. I’ve travelled to dozens and dozens of countries with The Wine Show. Not a trip has gone by without them being told something obscure about Keighley.
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why? It’s hard when there are so many. It’s a county littered with greats from every walk of life. Beryl Burton was arguably the greatest cyclist of her era, and many other eras, man or woman. I’m a huge admirer of Richard Hoggart, the academic who wrote The Uses of Literacy. Everyone in Yorkshire should read it for his description of life in Hunslet in poverty between the wars. It’s my desert island book.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? I do think there’s a performative side to the Yorkshire character that lends itself to great pub raconteurs and people in television.
Name your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer and tell us why? I’m very lucky that every so often I bump into Alan Bennett. Sometimes in Yorkshire, sometimes on the train, and sometimes in London. He’s always very charming and fun. Whenever we’ve spoken, it’s always been really just a couple of people talking about places and people in Yorkshire.
What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just finished filming series three of The Wine Show. I teamed up with actors James Purefoy and Dominic West. Dom and I spent a lot of time comparing people we know, relations of his I was at school with. I went to Thailand, Madeira, Hungary, Germany and Hampshire, and we visited the Hambledon Estate run by Ian Kellett, who’s from Yorkshire. He told me his sparkling wine is the best match with fish and chips, although he didn’t like Hampshire ones so he’s had them sent down from Doncaster.