What’s your first Yorkshire memory? Going to Scarborough, aged about three or four, and having a grand old time on the beach, chasing around with my younger sister – I’m the eldest of four girls – and finding all the rock pools. And I’ve also got a very clear memory of my first trip to York, when I was in the Brownies, and they took us on one of the Ghost Tours, which I absolutely adored. I’ve been hooked on things like that ever since.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
Going to Scarborough, aged about three or four, and having a grand old time on the beach, chasing around with my younger sister – I’m the eldest of four girls – and finding all the rock pools. And I’ve also got a very clear memory of my first trip to York, when I was in the Brownies, and they took us on one of the Ghost Tours, which I absolutely adored. I’ve been hooked on things like that ever since.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?
Hull, and I’m very proud to be from that wonderful city. I love it all, the Old Fruit Market, the quirky little cafes and bars, The Land of Green Ginger, the Marina and the waterside, the old town. I know I’m biased, but however much touring I do, and how many times I have to work in London, it is still very much home for me.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?
Being with my family, having a little trip out up to Scarborough for some fish and chips and a stroll in the Dalby Forest. Then back down to the Fish Trail in Hull and off to a really nice pub for a huge Sunday roast.
Do you have a favourite walk, or view?
Good old Scarborough again, but this time it’s not on the beach, but up near the statue of Queen Victoria, on the headland that looks across the bay, to the castle, and beyond. It takes in the Grand Hotel, all the rooftops, and away to the far horizon. If ever I had a ‘happy place’, it is there!
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
Sheridan Smith, who always seems to be so nice and down to earth. We did a dance competition once, when we were both younger, and while we never met, I looked at her as she performed (it was a Charlie Chaplin routine, I remember) and even then I thought to myself “That girl has got it!” There’s no frills with her, and no pretence, what you see is what you get, and I’d love to have a really good natter with her about the business, our mutual friends, and – well, just about everything!
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
Beverley, which a lot of people claim to know, but which I still haven’t explored as much as I would like to. A vibrant little town, loved by the people who live there and by the visitors as well, and yet still not quite “on the map” as it should be.
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?
Can I please do a Beyoncé, and have an entire shopping district closed for my own personal use? It would be Leeds, without all the people, but just the ladies and gents on the checkouts, so that I could have a complete binge without the distraction of other people!
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?
There’s an attitude from the people that you just do not find anywhere else and they know how to enjoy themselves. It’s also the variety of the county – and the fact that, while we have huge cities bustling with life, you can be out of each of them in about twenty minutes and into glorious countryside and rural tranquillity.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what? My dad, Roy, has been a mad keen supporter of football all his life, and follows Hull City through thick and thin, so I have inherited that from him.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
There’s a place near the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough called Eat Me, and it has the best food going – really lovely stuff, and friendly people.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
If it is at all possible, I always check out where the nearest market is and I make a beeline for it.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
The news that Channel 4 is shifting to Leeds is great news and just shows what sort of esteem the county is held in. The other great thing is that, in the last ten or fifteen years, the whole produce scene has burst into life – hand-crafted beers and gins, great food and brilliant cheeses.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?
Not a great deal, but I’d focus on transport – better trains to Hull and a really good fast lane super-carriageway from Hull to Scarborough, so that you can get from one to the other without having to spend three hours behind a tractor.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?
My grandma, Irene Middleton. She is now 87, she lived through the war years in Hull and brought up a family. She is loving, loyal and dependable and gets on with life, she never makes a fuss.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work? Ever since I walked through the doors of the old Hull Truck Theatre in Spring Street, absolutely and completely, yes. I grew up watching John Godber’s work, and I was lucky enough, later, to be in some of it.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer?
I love the Arctic Monkeys and I’m also a fan of The Beautiful South and particularly Paul Heaton’s voice.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?
Hull – because so many people disregard it. But apart from the people, there are museums and galleries (all free). My niece and nephew are still very young, but I look at them and I think ‘How lucky you are to have all of this right on your doorstep.’
Cinderella and the Lost Slipper, Grand Opera House, York, December 14 – Saturday January 5. For tickets call 0844 8713024.