Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sally Wainwright's Happy Valley showcases Yorkshire

Picture: The Independent
Following the utterly brilliant Last Tango in Halifax, the latest TV drama written by Sally Wainwright hit the screen last night on the BBC. 'Happy Valley' is a gritty  West Yorkshire-based story set in a pretty village, Hebden Bridge.  Police sergeant Cawood (played by Sarah Lancashire) becomes embroiled in a kidnap plot involving the same man who drove her daughter to suicide years earlier. Taking in the darker side of life, including modern-day drugs culture, Happy Valley lacks the comedy of Wainwright's Last Tango in Halifax but is as utterly absorbing, be warned you may not blink for an hour.

Gripping TV story lines have been magnificently acted out in this drama, once again by lead actor Sarah Lancashire whose powerful deliveries leave us craving for next week's episode. At Holdsworth House we were lucky to accommodate Lancashire and other Happy Valley actors throughout filming in Hebden Bridge and nearby villages.

The first episode received good reviews from The Telegraph describing it as 'nail biting', and The Independent said the 'Homegrown, Yorkshire-set drama is better than Fargo'.

In addition to sharing Wainwright's BAFTA wining writing talent with the world, the local business and tourism economy has undoubtedly seen a boost in recent years as her stories are realised by producer Karen Lewis of Red Production Company. Through Last Tango in Halifax the number of enquiries for Holdsworth House has increased, lets hope the businesses of nearby Hebden Bridge see their trade magnified as their surroundings are showcased. Thankfully the wonderful artistic boutiques of Hebden Bridge and iconic Yorkshire scenery offer more escapism on a short break than the ficticious illegal drugs culture featured in the show!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Last Tango Spurs More Mature Weddings

There is little doubt that the brilliant Red Production series of Last Tango in Halifax for the BBC caused a ripple effect in popularising weddings of more mature brides and grooms, says the team at Holdsworth House in Halifax. 

The BAFTA winning BBC One show told the tale of Alan Buttershaw (Derek Jacobi) and Celia Dawson (Anne Reid) who are both widowed and in their 70s. When their grandsons put them on Facebook, they rediscover feelings for one another that are just as intense and beautiful now as they were 60 years ago when they were teenagers.

The series two finale on Christmas Eve showed Alan and Celia finally tying the knot and celebrating their romance with a grand wedding reception. Series writer Sally Wainwright from Halifax was insistent that as many scenes as possible were filmed in locations familiar to her. Wainwright and Red Production’s producer Karen Lewis chose four-star hotel Holdsworth House in Halifax - already a popular wedding venue - as one of the romantic settings.

Since airing, the team at Holdsworth House has seen enquiries for marriages and receptions from more mature couples increase twofold. It is clear that the story of Alan and Celia’s relationship described as ‘a celebration of the uplifting power of love at any age’ has encouraged many mature coupes to take the plunge.

Wedding coordinator Claire Nicholl said, ”We have seen a definite increase in older couples wanting to get married or renew their vows at Holdsworth House since Last Tango in Halifax. We call it the ‘Alan & Celia effect’! Sometimes couples that come to us have been married before, like Alan and Celia, and it is so wonderful to see large families celebrating the happiness of their grandparents or mums and dads together. The TV show was quite true to life focusing very much on family relationships; it was quite dark as well as comical in places since both Alan and Celias families come with baggage. However in the rare occasion there is tension we find that families tend to put any differences aside and the hotel becomes a wonderfully happy place to be”

Nicholl continues, ”We were lucky to be featured in the show. We still get visitors coming in saying ‘We saw it on Last Tango’, but when they realise they too can get married here, the excitement is palpable. We find older couples tend to want a sophisticated, understated wedding celebration. These are people who know what they like and want quality over quantity, good food and relaxed surroundings. ”

Last Tango in Halifax is up for its second year of BAFTA nominations in May 2014, with headline cast members Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker in the running for best supporting actress.

Pictures courtesy of Kyte Photography and Red Production Company

Friday, 4 April 2014

Three Generations Celebrate Together

Karen, Alisha and Margaret pictured in the historic Hall
If there was ever a place that knows how to throw a good party, it's Holdsworth House. For over 50 years the historic manor has been hosting top events and this spring was no different when three family members, who all work at the hotel, chose their place of work  as the place to party.

Margaret Henderson, who has worked part time in the restaurant for 18 years, has recently retired. Margaret's daughter is Karen Porter - a senior housekeeper at the hotel, and Margaret's granddaughter Alisha Jade Porter plays an important role in the restaurant team. But is was the occasion of Margaret's birthday that brought the three generations together for pleasure not work at the hotel. On March 20th Margaret chose to celebrate her birthday in a private dining room. Yet her official retirement party took place on 3rd April when the front office team and other colleagues joined to celebrate 18 impressive years of loyal service to Holdsworth House and the Pearson family who own it.

Some of Margaret's favourite memories during her time at Holdsworth House include TV presenter Gary Lineker visiting and seeing Jamie Oliver and his crew take over the grounds to film one of his popular shows. However it's the regular guests of the hotel and restaurant who are the ones that Margaret says made her job so interesting and enjoyable.

It hasn't all been hotel life for Margaret, as a church warden at her local Holy Nativity, Margaret visited Tanzania in 2008 to look at projects, which the hotel supported. And she's not ready to reach for the knitting needles any time soon, in fact she's going to be as busy as ever as she continues to help at the luncheon club and mums and toddlers group.

Margaret's granddaughter Alisha said, "My grandma will always think of her time at Holdsworth House as being part of a big family. I've certainly inherited the passion for hotel work from her and my mum. My main role is working on the top table of the wedding parties looking after the newlyweds and their families, this is a role my grandma used to do too!"

Congratulations to Margaret and enjoy your retirement - from the team at Holdsworth House x