What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? We live just outside Wetherby, and I have to say that this is the area that I love, and which I call home. All those lovely little villages, and it’s near everything – you can get to Leeds, to Harrogate, to York, so conveniently.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire? If we were going to have a special day, then it would be popping down into Boston Spa for a morning coffee, then a trip over to Harrogate for a nice lunch, a drive to Filey for a walk on the beach, and then back home for a good curry.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view? Back at the time of the Millennium, Chris and I went over to Filey on New Year’s morning, and we just sat and watched the sun come up over the sea. Back then, a lot of others had the same idea, and there were a lot of Champagne corks popping in celebration. But we’ve kept up that tradition, and every year we get up and make the trip. We now take a flask of coffee, watch the sunrise, and then we wander down to have a bacon sandwich in a little beach cafe nearby.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? Dickie Bird, who I know quite well, is always a charmer and Brian Close was a perfect gentleman. There just wasn’t time to get to know him properly, and I would love to have had a lunch with him to find out what made him who he was.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? Keith Lemon. Or rather, Leigh Francis. It would be fun to talk to the “real” man who created such an outstanding comedy character.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be? Janet’s Foss, which is near Gordale Scar, up in Malhamdale. It’s nothing more than a tiny glade, with the most beautiful waterfall, and you can easily believe that it is enchanted.
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be? Lightwater Valley, on a brilliantly sunny, warm day, and I’d invite all our family and friends to come and have a brilliant day out. We’d use all the slides and rides and attractions, and then have a huge picnic.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? There is something that sets Yorkshire people apart, and I think we “in-comers” recognise that somehow. There’s a sense of being straightforward, of not messing about. Of being dour, but also very warm and welcoming. Of being down-to-earth and tough. Of grittiness, but having the driest sense of humour.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what? My husband Chris is a Huddersfield Town man, and has been all his life, and goes off to most of their matches. When they are on TV, I watch them with him, and I know a fair bit about them, which came in handy when I was sent over to cover their homecoming after their promotion.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub? There are so many lovely places around Wetherby and Boston Spa that we are spoiled for choice, and, since we are a fairly small community, we’ve made friends with a lot of the landlords and the chefs at various places. It would be wrong to pick out one.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Weetons in Harrogate is just wonderful, with a huge selection that ranges across everything that you’d ever need in and for the kitchen, and Blacker Hall Farm Shop, near Wakefield, is another centre of excellence.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it? Leeds has changed out of all recognition since I first came over on that day trip. New apartment blocks, regeneration everywhere, huge office facilities, the biggest names in retail all over the place, fine restaurants and bars, the list is endless. But, sadly, in the smaller towns, things have got pretty tough, with high streets that are really being hit hard.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be? The rail links from north to south are fair enough, but the east-west ones are a joke. They all need sorting out, and fast.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? There are two, both ladies, and they are Sally Wainwright and Kay Mellor, a pair of passionate writers who believe in this region, who create strong roles for women in powerful productions that deliver great stories well told.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work? In every way, because I am completely connected to it, and its people, every day. One thing that the county has taught me is that you cannot get away with being fake. You have to be yourself, and that has formed my character over the years.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.? Sorry, but it has to be Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. I loved that book as a child, and I grew up with it as well.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? Haworth. To see the place where that extraordinary family grew up, and where they wrote some of the finest books in the history of the English language.