Opinion: Region celebrates Look North’s golden milestone

Harry Gration, Paul Hudson and Amy Garcia before they set out on the Look North sofa tour.
Harry Gration, Paul Hudson and Amy Garcia before they set out on the Look North sofa tour.

On Sunday, BBC Look North will celebrate its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, my two Look North colleagues Harry Gration, Paul Hudson and I decided to take the Look North sofa on a tour of Yorkshire. We’re due to travel over 100 miles and visit 50 places; we’ve been to some of the county’s best known locations as well as some hidden gems. I hope you will have been following our progress over the last eight days. No doubt by the time you’re reading this, Harry, Paul and I will all be collapsed in a heap somewhere!

Doing a challenge like that really makes me realise how special our audience is. I love getting out and about and meeting our viewers. For many, the Look North family is an extension of their own and the feeling is mutual. Without you there is no regional TV news. 

One of the highlights of the tour was on day three when we headed to North Yorkshire. We set out from Filey and followed the coast up to Scarborough. We enjoyed some stunning coastal views as we struggled pulling that sofa, it’s much heavier than it looks! I want to say a huge thank you to those readers of The Scarborough News who came out to support us on the route ... and in that terrible weather! If you couldn’t be there then it isn’t too late to donate to Sport Relief – all the details about how to donate are on our website which is www.bbc.co.uk/sofa. You can also see how we got on in tomorrow’s Look North programme at 6.30pm on BBC One.

The programme will be a very special edition of Look North to mark our 50th birthday. Harry and I will present the programme from a special studio in the building on Woodhouse Lane which housed the original Look North studios. The programme will reflect on some of the big news stories from the last 50 years and we’re inviting some special guests to join us.

I’ve been presenting Look North with Harry for over four years and thankfully we get on just as well off camera as we do on camera. What you see on screen is what you get with Harry.

He has such a dry sense of humour and we’re often laughing when the camera stops recording.

I have covered such a range of stories during my time at Look North. Some of the stories that stand out for me include doing a live broadcast from the school where teacher Ann Maguire had been murdered. That was a very difficult day. And I reported from Manchester city centre following the Arena bomb last year.

I went to some of the hospitals where the victims were being treated and met children who were still searching for parents. It’s important to keep your emotions under control when you’re on camera but it’s impossible not to be affected by stories like that and I remember shedding a few tears in private a couple of days later.

On a lighter note the Tour de Yorkshire was an experience and a half and I have never seen the county looking so beautiful. Every town and village along the route had really pulled out all the stops to make it such a memorable weekend. And of course that tandem bike ride for Sport Relief four years ago … your wonderful support and generous donations kicked off a whole new chapter of challenges for me and Harry.  

BBC Look North is more successful now than ever with two million people tuning into the evening bulletin every week.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago we recorded our highest viewing figures for five years as viewers turned to us for the latest information when the Beast from the East landed in Yorkshire!

I grew up in West Yorkshire watching Look North every night, so to present the programme on its 50th birthday is wonderful! To do what I love and bring my children up in this great county surrounded by family is the best!

l See pages 3 and 28 for pictures of the trio in Filey and Scarborough.