Finally, Hull is being represented properly on TV


Rana (Taj Atwal), Toni (Leah Brotherhead) and Paula (Sinead Matthews) all appear in Channel 4’s new program Hullraisers – and I am obsessed (Picture: Channel 4)

Being a working-class girl born and bred in Kingston Upon Hull, I’m proud of my roots.

But it’s rare for any TV show to shine the spotlight on Hull (BBC drama Four Lives’ featured Hull but was filmed elsewhere) and its people, particularly in a positive light.

Instead, it’s far more common for us to see programmes that represent the middle classes of the South, like BBC One’s The Split or Breeders on Sky One.

So it was with great excitement and relief that I sat down to watch Channel 4’s latest sitcom, Hullraisers, last week.

Hull-native Lucy Beaumont co-writes the comedy with Anne-Marie O’Connor and Caroline Moran, and the plot is loosely based on the Israeli sitcom Little Mom.

The show centres around the friendship of three women, Toni (played by Hull-born Leah Brotherhead), Rana and Paula, and follows the hilarious and agonising reality of what it is like to be a working-class woman juggling work, kids and everything else in-between.

A scene in the very first episode particularly resonated with me.

Toni is trying to recapture her life pre-parenthood and takes four-year-old daughter Grace to a pub instead of her drama group.

They find themselves surrounded by boisterous Hull City football fans watching a match.

It made me laugh aloud as it brought back memories of my childhood – I found myself in many pubs with my dad as a youngster watching football with sweary City fans plenty of times.

In my opinion, Hullraisers is a positive representation of the city because it places its emphasis on Hull’s best feature: ‘Its People’. They are warm, friendly and full of fun. They have no airs or graces, and go out of their way to help each other – this is something Hullraisers really hones in on.

While writing the show, Beaumont said: ‘What Hull needs is role models that are successful and entrepreneurial. It’s not a hard Northern town. It’s creative and European, and there’s a young energy there.’ And she is absolutely right.

Over the years, Hull has received some underserved flack. It was once voted the worst place to live in the UK and hit the headlines again this year for sitting at number 24 on a list of the ‘Top 50 Worst Places to Live in England.’


hullraisers-channel-4

In my opinion, Hullraisers is a positive representation of the city because it places emphasis on Hull’s best feature: ‘Its People’ (Picture: Channel 4)

I’ve certainly heard plenty of jokes through the years about my hometown – and I’ve had to endure years of my accent being mocked because I speak ‘ull’.

In fact, at the beginning of my journalism career, I was told in a job interview that I would never make it on a broadsheet newspaper because my accent was far too common and that I should stick to working for tabloids.

That didn’t deter me, and a few years later, I found myself reporting on London’s high society set for a broadsheet newspaper, rubbing shoulders with Royalty and political big hitters.

Most of these so-called posh people seemed to find my accent inoffensive and were often interested in my working-class background and used to ask me many questions about it.

And us Hull locals have a lot to celebrate – Hull City FC, for one. As the chant goes: ‘We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.’ I know my dad truly believed this.

It is also a city with a rich and deep history – our own William Wilberforce played a prominent part in abolishing the slave trade in Britain in the early 1800s.

The pub Ye Olde White Harte is where the first significant action in the English Civil War of 1642 to 1651 began, when Governor of Hull Sir John Hotham, decided to close the gates of the city to King Charles I.

Despite being partially destroyed in the Second World War, thanks to its strong fishing industry, Hull quickly returned to prosperity in the 1950s.

In 2017 Hull was awarded the title of ‘City of Culture’, and it breathed a new lease of life into the place, putting it firmly on the map as a tourist destination.

A key plot point in Hullraisers’ first episode relates to the fact the city is also home to the famous Aunt Bessie Yorkshire Puddings – what’s not to like?

And the Hull lingo is in a class of its own; where else in the country do you have a ‘tenfoot’ (An alley or passageway at the back or side of houses that is 10 feet wide), or you can give someone a ‘croggie’ (a lift on a friend’s bike).

I would also highly recommend tasting the Hull delicacies of a Pattie (mashed potato mixed with parsley and sage, formed into a patty and deep-fried in batter) and chip spice (spiced salt and paprika).

Once you’ve tried these, you’ll never go back to regular fish and chips again.

From the episodes I have seen of Hullraisers so far I firmly believe it acknowledges the best that Hull has to offer. It showcases the city as ‘bright’ and ‘vibrant, and not as ‘grey’ and ‘grim’ as many would have us believe.

The shows’ backdrops also feature some stunning shots of Hull’s famous landmarks, which might surprises viewers, including the Humber Bridge. Its a single-span road suspension bridge across the Humber Estuary that connects Hull with North Lincolnshire. It was opened in 1981 by the Queen and was the longest of its type in the world until 1998.

And, the much loved The Deep – the world’s only submarium opened in March 2002. It is home to thousands of sea creatures (including seven species of shark), penguins and northern Europe’s only pair of green sawfish.

Let’s not forget the city’s music scene – like Paul Heaton’s bands, the Housemartins and Beautiful South.

Some incredibly talented people hail from Hull, including Coronation Street’s Dame Maureen Lipman and actors Sir Tom Courtenay and Reece Shearsmith.

Famed poet Phillip Larkin made Hull his home for 30 years from 1955, and after initially hating the place, he gradually fell in love with Hull like many people do.

While Hull might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I know I am biased because it is my birthplace, but I genuinely believe it’s time we gave this thriving Northern city a break.

I, for one, hope Hullraisers is the first of many TV shows to be set here. As the saying goes: ‘It’s Never Dull in Hull.’

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