After a very long half-term, the Christmas Holidays are finally here. This means that as well as spending quality time with my family, I can give my little space on the internet a bit of love too.
So, let me take you back. Way back to October half-term when I was invited to spend an evening at the Emmerdale Experience in Leeds. Now I am going to hold my hand up here and be very honest: I don’t watch Emmerdale. This isn’t because I don’t think it’s any good; it’s because it isn’t on Sky Atlantic. Honestly, move the much loved soap over to Sky Atlantic or even HBO and I will be right there along side Ashley Thomas as he battles against his dementia (look at my research.) However, my best friend and a much loved character in my blog, JC, is a huge fan, so she came along with me to help me sort my Sugdens from my Dingles.
Much loved Yorkshire soap opera first aired in October 1972 and the Emmerdale Experience is situated in a large building that once housed the majority of the sets on Burley Road in Leeds. Some filming takes place there these days, however, the majority of the filming is done on location at the Emmerdale village at Harewood House.
Never one to be on time, I picked up JC at 5.30 thus leaving us an hour to drive into Leeds. Plenty of time we thought. Nope. As it turned out, Leeds is pretty busy at 6pm because, you know, people are leaving work. Yeah, I didn’t think that one through. We were told that there was a car park directly opposite the studio entrance, and there is. The car park is literally opposite the building – absolutely perfect. Only we chose to panic park (because we were late) at a car park a couple of minutes down the road.
A five minute brisk walk later and we arrived. After being pleasantly greeted at the door, we were ushered in behind group of guests and into a small theatre style room for our introduction to to the experience. A few minutes passed when I recognised my first character.
“Didn’t she play Marilyn in ‘Home and Away’?” I asked.
“Yes, shush,” was JC’s reply.
“Was she in ‘Neighbours’ too at some point?”
After our introduction we we were led into the costume room where an array of costumes were on display. We were invited to try on some of Seth’s hats, but all the guests stood in embarrassed silence. Had, perhaps, we visited The Woolpack before the tour and not after, a number of guests may have been seen prancing around in Seth Armstrong’s knitted cap…Then came the makeup room. As soon as I spied the MAC make-up, the swizzle chair and the large Hollywood glamour mirror, I was encouraged to take a seat and pretend to be a soap star. I have always wanted someone to do may make-up for me, so all I needed was a professional make-up artist to come in and transform my tired eyes into full-on Hollywood glamour eyes – I’d have paid extra for it. Alas, it was not to be as we were soon directed down a corridor filled with famous old props and into the first set. We visited a number of sets. Amongst them there was: a beauty salon, a living room (where my inner geek came out and navigated straight over to the book shelf to see what books were up there) and the Dingle’s living room. Here we were treated to a film of the characters acting out a scene in the room itself. All the time this was going on, our very knowledgeable and friendly guides kept us entertained with fascinating facts and comical anecdotes. The tour lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. Like the Tardis, we were greeted to room after room after room of delights. We learnt about lighting and sound, about positioning of actors and we then we were treated to an elaborate retelling of how last year’s shocking helicopter crash was staged and filmed.
“Oh look, he was definitely in Home and Away. Wasn’t he a fit biker? Or was that in Neighbours? Was he a biker in Neighbours first and then a teacher in Home and Away?” I said.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t just JC who told me to ‘shush’!I was very impressed with the amount of southern hemisphere actors who chose to leave the glorious sunshine of Australia to settle in little old England for a while. I wasn’t surprised though, as Emmerdale is set in Yorkshire – God’s County – after all!
Before reaching the pinnacle of the tour (The Woolpack), we walked through an incredible miniature village. Obviously, I reached out and touched the first building to see what it was made out of. Then we were told not to touch so that we don’t damage the delicate buildings – oops. There was time for a photo opportunity before finally entering The Woolpack.By this time, JC and I weren’t so shy and we dashed around the back of the bar for a photograph. We were treated to a Peroni each and some lovely nibbles. We were even given the opportunity for a professional photograph behind the bar before saying our goodbyes are departing back into the October evening. Now, if only there was a car park bang opposite the building…oh wait a minute.