Cross over to Yorkshirefor a tour of Emmerdale
For hundreds of years, there has been a bit of a friendly rivalry between Lancastrians and Yorkshire folk.
But in October 1972 Yorkshire residents were first welcomed in our living rooms in the form of new TV soap Emmerdale Farm which focused on the antics of the Sugden family who ran a farm in Beckinsdale.
The soap grew in popularity, as it was rebranded Emmerdale and the once sleepy village with a focus on farming formed a racier reputation, with love triangles, family feuds and plane crashes.
As we have laughed at the Dingles, cried with the Bartons and been appalled at the antics at Sharma’s sweet factory, the village and its characters are a fixture in the homes of many Lancastrians.
So it seems only fair we can step into the famous Emmerdale village and live through the soap’s iconic history.
Located less than two hours away, the Emmerdale Studio Experience and Emmerdale Village Tour are two separate attractions in Leeds which are well worth a visit if you are a soap fan.
The age-old Lancashire/Yorkshire contention is a distant memory, as the red rose county’s residents flock to the tours.
In fact, Lancaster was the second highest town for ticket purchasing earlier this year.
Based in a hushed location, the village is accessible only by coach which picks up and drops off at Weetwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre, which offers special accommodation rates for guests attending the tours.
The soap was originally set in Esholt, but at the end of 1997 producers had to recreate the village as the show’s growing popularity meant it was becoming over-run with fans. It is the largest purpose built TV set in history and took builders just 20 weeks to recreate the beautiful setting, with houses smeared in yoghurt and manure for the authentic rustic look.
The live, working TV set is located within the Harewood Estate in Leeds, and includes the familiar haunts of Sharma’s factory, Bob’s cafe, David’s shop, the Dingle’s garage, Beauty and Bernice, The Grange and rows of stone cottages known as home to your favourite Emmerdale characters for more than 43 years.
There is also - of course - The Woolpack, which is the heart of the community, and the cemetery, where the graves of the soap’s dearly departed characters, such as Sarah Sugden, Tricia Dingle and Val Pollard, lie.
On the outskirts visitors can take a sneak peak at Pollard’s converted barn, Dingle’s Wishing Well Cottage and Marlon’s home. Home Farm is located several miles away from the estate and is not part of the tour.
Friendly and very knowledgeable guides will share secrets and reveal fascinating facts behind the making of the award-winning soap, including what really lies within the four walls of the pub and salon and how you can pass on your phone number to St Helens actor Michael Parr, who plays bad-boy Ross Barton.
The tour, which costs £31 per person, lasts around 90 minutes. A maximum of two wheelchair users are allowed and alternative arrangements will need to be made for the coach.
The Emmerdale Studio Experience offers a different pace as fans are invited to be a part of the drama as they venture behind the camera and discover first-hand the magic that lies at the heart of ITV’s iconic television series.
The 80-minute tour, located in ITV’s studios in Burley Road, Leeds, takes people on a journey behind the scenes, showing them how the team bring the characters you love and plots you remember to life, from the story board, right through to editing.
Visitors will step into the costume and make up departments, taking a glimpse at iconic costumes such as Edna Birch’s hat and Moira Barton’s wedding dress - and even find out which actor spends the most time in make-up.
Fans can film their own scene at Rhona’s Smithy Cottage, test lighting at Bernice’s salon, edit a scene from the show and see how crew staged the helicopter crash which killed Val Pollard and Ruby Haswell in 2015.
No soap tour is complete without a souvenir photo in the iconic Woolpack pub. Guests can take a seat in the pub where the likes of Cain Dingle and Jimmy King have supped their pints.
Anyone wishing to buy a drink at the original Woolpack pub can make their own way to Esholt, where the pub is fully operational and pays homage to the soap.
Studio tours run seven days a week from 10am until 5pm. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters no wider than 80cm are permitted, but limited to one per tour due to health and safety.
Adult entry is £21; child £19.50; student/senior £19.50; family (two adults, two children) £68. Group discounts are available. To book visit www.emmerdalestudioexperience.co.uk or call 01904 261262.
The studio has two upcoming An Evening with… events which have ex-Emmerdale actors taking on the tour guide role. Bill Ward – who played James Barton – is hosting a meet and greet on Friday July 7, and Sammy Winward – who played Katie Sugden – will be there on Friday September 29.
To book the village tour, visit www.continuumattractions.com/emmerdale-village-tour.
For information on Weetwood Hall Hotel, which is four miles from Leeds city centre, and includes a pub and a restaurant, visit www.weetwood.co.uk or call 0113 2306000.