There's something compelling about seeing the area you live and work in on screen. You see it every day and yet when you hear 'it's going to be on TV', an excitement bubbles within.
But why is this? Does it look better on screen than in real life?
I don't think so. Real life is nearly always surpassed by even the greatest photograph or video clip. So perhaps it's that we're all secretly proud of our neighbourhoods and want others to see them too. Or perhaps we are so intimately connected to the landscape that we live in that a storyline resonates all the more.
Yet today I don't think 'TV' has quite the same total captivation that it did 25 years ago. Back then, there was no Catch-up TV, very little total reliance on the internet. Mobile telephones certainly didn't have screens and were used to ring people first and text them second - if you could work out the keys, that is. You watched a TV series when it happened or carefully recorded it on video tape. TV was a great source of family entertainment that you sat down together for.
The rise of home-grown video clips and social media means that any of us, at any time, may see ourselves 'on screen' - provided we have the know-how and an appetite to put our story out there. On that, I'm still learning...
But what excited me most of all when a film crew descended on our farm in Bank Newton last September was -
1. That someone was interested to learn about my father's story. That they wanted to chat with him and find out about the restoration of Newton Grange Farm alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal - of sheep farming today and rural diversification in to our holiday cottages and farm tourism - and of continuity and change in the landscape.
2. That for a few hours over two days, the otherwise familiar pattern of life on the farm and the holiday cottages here, was interrupted - and welcomingly so. It made you stop and think - and for such home-based, home-grown enterprises as our own - that there's not only a much bigger picture out there but many of those in major metropolitan cities live a very different life to us, and are genuinely intrigued/amazed by the differences to our own lives. Things that we take for granted and see as ordinary, to others had great interest. They had something to learn and so did we.
3. That faces I'd seen on screen over the years or related to vivid memories I held (like buying the first ever record I owned - Kylie Minogue 'I should be so lucky') were now here on the farm, standing in our car park and fields. Pete Waterman and Bill Oddie were filming on our farm with my Dad for a Channel 5 series based on the canal network. Wow!
Whether or not the footage makes the final cut, it means something that they were here in the first place. And when I see that record (the one produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, that is ) I shall be reminded of the day the filmmakers came to Newton Grange Farm in September 2019.
4. That we had, at the end of the day, a renewed sense of pride - of our identity - and of all that we love about our home in Yorkshire. We had a sharper realisation of how distinctive it is - and what stories we (and the built and rural landscape around us) have to tell. That every day we can remind ourselves how lucky we are to live where we do and do what we do. That we can surely share better the local treasures that we know of to holiday makers before their visit, as well as during and perhaps aftewards - for next time.
5. That the very arrival of these celebrities and film producers to our farm meant to us - that they must have liked something of what they saw - and were seeking to tell others about it. As their mission was to produce a TV series to entertain and inform the audience about the fantastic canal networks the UK has - that we also have a mission and a story that makes the farm here in Bank Newton individual and unique. And that story is worth telling.
6. That we can look again at the gem that is the Leeds Liverpool Canal on our doorstep with a renewed sense of purpose - about how it relates to our own business and mission to increase the number of visitors to our holiday cottages, and to help them enjoy the local treasures on our doorstep to the full.
7. And that in life, we are always learning. I am intrigued to watch the programme when it is screened this week and next, to hear the Director's take on the stories that have been uncovered and chosen when the team navigated by barge along the Leeds Liverpool Canal. There is real power in a story.
8. That visitors and those less familiar with a place do look for local insights and recommendations - from how to reach their destination, to how long it might take to get there, and to find out what is really worth seeing - that no matter how much Googling you might do in advance, there's surely no replacement for a face-to-face conversation, a chat over the wall, and some signposting to help people uncover the stories and local history of the place they are visiting. The place that we call home and want others to enjoy and share too.
We eagerly await the TV Series 'Britain by Barge - Now and Then' with its sparkling cast of celebrities - pop producer Pete Waterman, conservationist Bill Oddie, presenter Anne Diamond and royal reporter Jennie Bond.
We shall have our notebooks at the ready - ready to learn, be entertained and no doubt take a deep breath when (and if) the footage from Bank Newton makes the final cut.
So, do check in to Channel 5 at 9pm on Friday 14th and Friday 21st February 2020 to watch 'Britain by Barge - Now and Then' - or why not set record if you're out, or catch up later.
Hear the story of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, spot places that you know along the way, or discover new ones. Perhaps it will whet your appetite to visit Yorkshire and Lancashire and discover the Leeds Liverpool Canal first hand. We can certainly highly recommend the delightfully rural and tranquil section of the canal between Gargrave, Bank Newton and Barnoldswick.
We would love to see new and returning guests in our four-star holiday cottages at Newton Grange Farm in Bank Newton, near Gargrave and Skipton, North Yorkshire. Please check availability and book online on our website, or please do call us on 01756 748140 especially if you're booking several cottages or have a bespoke request.
We hope to see you soon and hope you enjoy the TV series in the meantime!
10th February 2020
ps - we've just heard that the programme our farm features in will be Episode 2 that is scheduled for Friday 21st February 2020 - 9pm - Channel 5
The article was written by Rachael Berry. Rachael lives with her husband and young family at Newton Grange Farm in Bank Newton, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Skipton. She works with her parents John and Catherine, and housekeeping team Neil and Dee, to look after and promote their collection of holiday cottages in Bank Newton. The cottages are located on the family's working sheep farm, which is situated in a glorious spot adjacent to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the Pennine Way national trail in North Yorkshire.