Day 2 – Leeds and Emmerdale

Matthew Collins - 01 05 10
Isabel Hodgins (Victoria Sugden)

Isabel Hodgins (Victoria Sugden)

We have finally landed in Stoke! We left Leeds in such high spirits, but by the time we arrived at our hotel some four hours later, Gregg’s charming company had long been swallowed up by the noise of the heavy and vibrating engine of our 1958 (note the correction) double decker bus, to the point where he was just another bloke in a t-shirt pointing and shouting. I’m sure he felt the same about me, by the way. One thing I do remember is the question as to why on your side of beef do you not get told which particular breed of cow it is? Angus? Is it a Hereford etc, etc. It was that kind of drive …

Poor Steve the driver awoke this morning to discover his SatNav had drowned under a constant leak in his cabin. It became such a problem that the good service of Louise Cousins from the Leeds branch of Unite the Union was required to guide us around Leeds.

Not being a cricket fan, I was surprised to discover that cricket at Headingly watching Leeds v Durham was a welcome break, and as people queued up to get on the bus for their pics, I snuck a sulky ten minutes under rare sunshine to watch blokes throw a rounded and red brick at each other’s shins. My colleague Nick Lowles alleges he is somewhat of a cricket fan, so I imagine the thought of me watching impassively as his beloved Yorkshire played cricket while he toiled in the Dagenham office should easily ensure another critical evaluation come my next pay negotiations!

And then came Emmerdale. It’s no longer just a farm. It is no longer Emmerdale Farm. Long gone are Annie Sugden, Mr Wilks, Amos and Seth. But we still had the Sugdens!

Elizabeth Estensen is better known as either Diane Sugden behind the bar at the Woolpack, or, for our more mature readers, as a former member of the classic series The Liver Birds where she played Carol Boswell. Not only is she a lady of striking grace and charm, she is also a forthright anti-racist and anti-fascist. I kid you not! We had a brief to-do in the reception of ITV Yorkshire where she was standing waiting for a taxi in her rain mac and holding her suitcase. She’d been working all day and did not seem at all interested in being harangued, but upon hearing what we there for she got herself onto the bus and let rip about racism and fascism. Gregg was blown away by her unprompted monologue against the racists.

It would seem that where Elizabeth goes, good fortune follows. For next up was Alice Coulthard, who plays the recently hard-done-by Maisie Wylde. She is a photo waiting to happen. Fresh from make-up and standing in the rain she waited patiently to have her say. She attacked homophobia as well as racism before coming back again to ask for another go. "I need to say some more," she said pleasantly and impatiently.

Our star was without a doubt Isabel Hodgins. She’s a sixteen-year-old tearaway called Victoria Sugden three nights a week on the show. But for us, she was obliging and friendly and more than happy to slip on a HnH t-shirt. "Why not?" she asked, dropping her bags. "I live in a multicultural country, I like it and cannot see why anybody would want to hurt it," she told us.

Poor Louise Cousins, who had been our impromptu SatNav and guide to the show’s ins and outs and scandals, admitted to being a tad disappointed. "I loved her to bits," she said of Isabel, "but I was sort of hoping that Victoria Sugden would appear and start being stroppy".

We forgave Victoria as soon as we got genuine Woolpack beer mats. Even Louise was placated for a bit. "I think" said Louise "Jack Sugden would be proud of young Isabel".

He probably would. Because long before all the murders and affairs on those fair dales, there was a farmer called Jack Sugden who always wanted to defend those without a voice. Victoria Sugden/Isabel Hodgins, got it right first time

Elizabeth Estensen (Diane Sugden)

Elizabeth Estensen (Diane Sugden)


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