Halifax Doctor Who and comic book writer Mark Wright shouting up for Calderdale

Halifax's Mark Wright on his influences and favourite places in Calderdale
Halifax's Mark Wright on his influences and favourite places in Calderdale

Mark Wright was born in Halifax, where he first watched Doctor Who at the age of three. It began a lifelong love of the Time Lord and he co-wrote the Who-Ology, celebrating 50 years of the show. He has written comics, novels and a short film.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Sledging! The house I was born in, in Halifax, was pretty much on the very edge of the Calder Valley, looking out towards Norland Moor.

We basically lived on the side of a hill at the edge of a wood, and the ‘cat steps’ that ran to the side of the house made the best sledging track when the snow came.

One of my earliest memories is clinging on to my dad’s back as we hurtled down this path on a sledge at terrifying speed. Great fun. My parents were in that house for 40 years, an amazing place to grow up.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why?

That’s always a tricky question. I’m very fond of the coast around Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, and the Wolds near Malton.

Halifax is in my DNA, but I’d have to say Burnsall in Wharfedale just edges it. It’s the gateway to the Dales and such a beautiful village with great walks – Bolton Abbey is not too far away.

The Red Lion and Manor House in the village is a fantastic country pub – I got married there, and it’s a place that will always hold special memories.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?

I’d have to start with a family breakfast at the Loom Lounge Café at Halifax’s Dean Clough Mills. Very friendly, great range of food.

Then we’d have a wander through the bottom of Halifax towards the Piece Hall, which has become a great place to just stroll and browse in the shops.

There might be time for lunch in the Square Chapel arts centre before catching a movie in the cinema there, and then before heading home we’d stop for a drink in one of the new bars that’s opened in the town recently. It’s a sign of how Halifax is changing in very positive ways.

Do you have a favourite walk, or view?

The view I woke up to for the first 20 years of my life – out across the Calder Valley from home. Even now I’ll just go and sit up on Albert Promenade on a bench and just sit peacefully for an hour.

We’re very lucky in this area that you can go from urban to countryside within a couple of miles.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why?

Right now it would have to be Jodie Whittaker. She’s incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to briefly interview Jodie, and she has so much energy, charm and passion. I’d happily sit and listen to her talk for hours.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be?

Burnsall as a starting point to discover the beauty of the Dales.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

Its sheer size and the variety of places that you get across God’s Own County.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

At the moment it’s a toss-up between The Grayston Unity and the Victorian Craft Beer Café in Halifax.

The Grayston is a unique little space, and the CBC is the perfect place that if you get in early enough and find the right seat, you can just stay there all night, watch people go by and put the world to rights with a good mate. And if it involves one of their top-notch black pudding pork pies at some point, all the better!

Do you have a favourite food shop?

I’ve recently discovered the farm shop at Cannon Hall Farm. I mentioned pork pies above, but the ones at Cannon Hall are amazing, made fresh on the farm that morning. It’s that kind of local business with the right approach to animal welfare and food prep that’s going to become so important in the coming years.

Do you ever find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to others?

I think in recent years people have started discovering it for themselves. There’s so much going on here now all across the county that it seems to be selling itself.

Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire, and why?

Sally Wainwright is top of the list. It’s been a joy to see her become one of the most sought-after screenwriters in the country.

I adored Last Tango in Halifax, and Happy Valley is among the best dramas I’ve ever seen on television from any part of the world. Both series are so very different, but both depicted a Halifax and Yorkshire I recognise.

How has Yorkshire influenced your work?

It’s starting to now more than it ever has. I left Halifax and Yorkshire in my early 20s to do a drama degree at Salford University.

I eventually found myself pursuing a career as a magazine journalist and ended up in Bath and then London for well over a decade. I came home to settle in Halifax in 2010, and it has worked its way back into my heart.

Name your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer (just one of them!) and tell us why?

This changes constantly, but I’m going to go for the artist Peter Brook. I only discovered his work in the last five years or so, but his paintings of the West Yorkshire landscape are just stunning.

I can just sit and stare at one of his snowscapes for hours and feel at peace. If I could own one original Brook piece, it would be Lighting Up Time. You can practically hear the boot steps crunching on snow