Where the Heart Is (TV Series 1997–2006)


Where the Heart Is (TV Series 1997–2006)

The ultimate story of families, love, and growth within a small British community. Sisters-in-law Peggy Snow and Ruth Goddard deal with life's trials and tribulations realistically, very much like the rest of us, in this heart-warming British TV series.
IMDb   6.7 /10
Creator Ashley Pharoah
Creator Vicky Featherstone
Release Date1997-04-06
Content RatingNot Rated (Not Rated)
Awards7 nominations.
CompanyAnglia Television, Meridian Broadcasting
Anna Kirkwall 80 episodes, 2000-2006
Luke Kirkwall 78 episodes, 2000-2006
David Buckley 71 episodes, 2000-2006
Dick Lampard 71 episodes, 1997-2002
Simon Goddard 68 episodes, 1997-2005
Vic Snow 66 episodes, 1997-2002
Henry Green 57 episodes, 1997-2001
Lucy Snow 56 episodes, 1997-2002
Jess Buckley 44 episodes, 2000-2003
Kerrie Taylor
Kerrie Taylor
Beth Enright / ... 42 episodes, 2001-2005
Karen Buckley 40 episodes, 2000-2003
Danny Seward
Danny Seward
Joe Beresford 39 episodes, 2002-2005
Peggy Snow 36 episodes, 1997-2000
Billy Boothe 36 episodes, 2003-2006
Nathan Boothe 36 episodes, 2003-2006
Stephen Snow 34 episodes, 1999-2001
Katy Clayton
Katy Clayton
Samantha Boothe / ... 34 episodes, 2002-2006
Simon Ashley
Simon Ashley
Terry 34 episodes, 1997-2000

Where the Heart Is (British TV series)

Where the Heart Is is a British drama television series set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Skelthwaite, created by Ashley Pharoah and Vicky Featherstone. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 6 April 1997. The show focuses on the lives of a group of district nurses and their families who reside in the town. The show was created after Featherstone visited the Yorkshire town of Meltham. She was intrigued by the tight-knit community, particularly those connected to the local district nursing office. Featherstone approached Pharoah with her ideas and they pitched the show to ITV. After the network ordered production of the first series, they along with producer Kate Anthony began creating the show. The series was filmed in the Colne valley of West Yorkshire, mainly in the villages Marsden, Slaithwaite and the town Meltham.

Where The Heart Is focuses on the stories that occur in small communities without being sentimental. Pharoah wanted to explore the hidden conflicts that occur within the families and friends. Margaret Tiffany, a real-life Meltham district nurse, provided Featherstone with the premise of the show. She was employed as a script advisor and coached the cast and helped the production create an authentic representation of life in the Colne Valley communities. Where The Heart Is initially focuses on five main characters from the Snow and Goddard family. In later series it expanded its focus to additional characters using an ensemble cast format. On 12 October 2006, ITV announced that the tenth series was the last as they decided to focus on creating other shows. The final episode was broadcast on 10 September 2006.

Plot overview

Where the Heart Is focuses on the personal lives of two district nurses in the small Yorkshire town of Skelthwaite. The official ITV website described the series as "an engaging story of life, love, family and people’s ever-changing fortunes in rural England. Set against the rugged landscape of Yorkshire, it follows the busy professional and family lives of District Nurses, as they bring nursing and emotional care to young and old alike." Initially, it mainly concentrated on the lives of two of the district health nurses, Peggy Snow (Pam Ferris) and Ruth Goddard (Sarah Lancashire). The story expands to focus on the lives of more Skelthwhaite residents, particularly those related to the nurses as well as those working in a local toilet paper factory.


Where The Heart Is was created by Ashley Pharoah and Vicky Featherstone. The show is a drama series and was made for ITV's "prime time" television slot. The series was filmed in the Colne valley of West Yorkshire, mainly in the villages Marsden, Slaithwaite and the town Meltham. The production team would also use Huddersfield Town Hall as an occasional filming location. The show's theme song, also titled "Where the Heart Is", was performed by the band Prefab Sprout.

Featherstone's inspiration for the series came from a visit to the Colne Valley, where she attended a wedding. Featherstone was intrigued by a close-knit community based in Meltham, particularly the district nurses working in the town. Featherstone had previously worked with Pharoah writing for the BBC television drama Silent Witness. She recalled that he was keen to create a story about a teenager who wanted to break away from a tight-knit community, and thought that the two stories could be combined. When Featherstone approached Pharoah with her idea, he was uninterested in the concept because he believed it "sounded soft and sentimental". She convinced Pharoah to accompany her to Meltham where they visited a small district nursing office. After conversing with the staff, Pharoah realised they had valid stories which had the potential to be explored fully on a television series. After two days in Meltham, Pharoah was determined to create the show. He had even envisioned all the characters based on the people he had met and thought of storylines.

Pharoah was soon hired by United Productions, where Featherstone was already employed, to write a script. The pair knew the show would need to be suitable for a pre-watershed time slot and were mindful to exclude profanity and nudity. Pharoah was adamant that Where The Heart Is would not be sentimental and would include conflict. The decision to make the two main characters female was made to give the show a "maternal heart". Pharoah decided to make certain characters related to add to the conflict that arises from family disagreements. Pharoah observed a toilet paper factory in Meltham and decided to incorporate it into the scripts because it dominated the town's employment. He told Deborah and Anthony Hayward, in their book Where The Heart Is, that "I thought it would be good to have that sense of industry. It gave us a workplace for the men that added a completely different angle from the women's nursing storylines." The show also features a local rugby team, with their story providing the more comedic elements of the series; Pharoah was a keen rugby fan and thought it added good balance to some of the show's "dark storylines". The story which set the tone for the show was the issue of euthanasia. In the opening episode the lead characters help their patient to die. Originally ITV was not keen on exploring the issue, but changed their stance after reading Pharoah's scripts. The network was also concerned about the show's structure in regards to its equal focus on all of the characters. They believed the programme better suited a "pyramid structure", in which the matriarchal character of Peggy was at the top.

Simon Lewis took on the role of the executive producer of Where The Heart Is. Kate Anthony was hired as the show's producer and was intrigued by the story of a woman choosing how she wanted to die. She met with Featherstone and Pharoah to discuss the series and travelled to the Yorkshire towns of Meltham, Marsden and Slaithwaite, which she decided to use as filming locations for the show. Naming the show's main town Skelthwaite was inspired by the real village of Slaithwaite. Anthony recalled watching the sun gleam over the Yorkshire moors and feeling that the show had found its home. She then set about finding the show's cast with the help of Lewis and casting director Gail Stevens.

One of Featherstone's biggest inspirations for the series was Margaret Tiffany, a district nursing sister based in Meltham. Tiffany had twenty-three years experience working her role in the Colne Valley area. She helped Pharoah research information for the stories included in the first series of the show and assisted cast members with their research as well, particularly Ferris. Tiffany also acted as a nursing advisor, providing information on medical practises and procedures, coaching the cast in how to perform first aid, apply bandages, and take a patient's blood pressure. Filming began in the British winter of 1996. They soon discovered they had to exclude the use of medical aprons in scenes because they affected on-set lighting. Ferris told Hayward that "we decided to take liberties with that sort of thing", noting it was a drama rather than a factual documentary. Where The Heart Is debuted on ITV on 6 April 1997. The first episode was watched by more than ten million viewers during its first broadcast in the United Kingdom.

On 12 October 2006, it was announced that ITV had decided to not renew the show for an additional series. The show was dropped despite high ratings, averaging more than six million viewers per episode. A publicist from the channel stated "Where The Heart Is has been a very successful series for ITV1. But the decision has been taken in order to create some flexibility for new programme ideas in that 8pm Sunday slot." The show's producer, Ian Hopkins said he was "sorry" the show had been cancelled and added "I would like to thank you for all your support for the programme over the last 10 years."

Cast and characters

The series initially focused on the Snow and Goddard family, which was headed by matriarch Peggy Snow. The character was based on Pharoah's mother Maureen, sharing her "decency, warmth and down-to-earth humanity." Peggy's role in the series was to drive the stories featured in each episode by being an investigator. Anthony told Hayward that Peggy's characterisation could be interpreted as nosiness but her "caring and inquisitive" nature allowed her to "wheedle out the stories". Anthony wanted to find an actress who could portray Peggy's "tremendous strength and resolve" alongside her "warmth and humour". The casting team decided to approach actress Pam Ferris for the part. Ferris had previously played matriarch Ma Larkin in The Darling Buds of May. She had previously refused other similar roles but liked the scripts for Where The Heart Is. She explained that the show was "daring" for portraying euthanasia and which made her want the role.

The role of Peggy's sister-in-law Ruth Goddard was given to Sarah Lancashire. She had been approached with the role while she was still appearing in the soap opera Coronation Street as Raquel Watts. Ferris and Lancashire being so well known for other roles worried Pharoah but having watched them perform and learning of their commitment to their new roles, he accepted them. Pharoah scripted Ruth very differently to Peggy; he stated that he wanted "someone who was lively, younger, less experienced and a little disrespectful." Pharoah was inspired to do so having met a nurse with similar characteristics. He decided that they should be best friends and sister-in-laws in order to create tension and conflict in their friendship via family disagreements.

Auditions for the male leads proved difficult for casting directors, who were determined to find actors that matched the strength that Ferris and Lancashire offered their respective role. Anthony auditioned countless actors and was fearful that casting the wrong person as Peggy's husband Vic Snow would ruin the relationship dynamic they envisioned. Tony Haygarth later auditioned and received the role; according to Anthony he stood out because "he had all the qualities of strength and humour - as well as the potential to be a bit grumpy." Vic was scripted as a well loved family man but has never amounted to great success materially. Thomas Craig was selected to play Simon Goddard, Ruth's husband and Peggy's younger brother. Simon was one of the final original characters to be cast, with Thomas receiving the offer weeks prior to filming. He had auditioned for another role and during his audition he tried to sell some cheap fireworks. This caused Anthony to offer him the role of Simon because she thought his behaviour better suited Simon. The character of Simon was pivotal to the show, not only as Peggy's sibling but the owner of the local toilet paper factory. He was characterised as a Thatcherite but also liked being a part of his community. He was portrayed as "ruthless and ambitious" but his role of an employer made him one of Skelwhaite's main providers. William Ash was hired to play Peggy and Vic's son, Stephen Snow. He was transformed into the character that Pharoah had always wanted to create; the teenager keen to move away from a tight-knit community. This characterisation was what initially prompted Featherstone approach Pharoah to create the series. Stephen was portrayed as loathe to end up like his father Vic, who had settled for a life time lived in a small community. Jessica Baglow completed the Snow family, playing Peggy and Vic's young daughter Lucy.

Other original characters featured in the series included William Travis as factory worker Dick Lampard, Andrew Knott as Stephen's best friend Henry Green, Maggie Wells as part-time district nurse Patricia Illingworth and Laura Crossley as Deborah Allis. Graham Turner played Walter Charlton, a recurring character created by Pharoah. Anthony did disliked his "old man" characterisation and decided to rewrite him. Turner originally auditioned for another role in the series, but Anthony believed he fitted her plans for Walter. He has learning difficulties, which Anthony was keen to portray in Where The Heart Is. She thought that television series were often scared to fully explore learning difficulties and she wanted to show how people like Walter fit into a community.

Cast list

  • Lesley Dunlop as Anna Kirkwall (series 4–10)
  • Jessica Childs-Cavill as Amy Kirkwall (series 9–10)
  • Molly Martin & Millie Martin as Rachel Kirkwall (series 9–10)
  • Christian Cooke as Luke Kirkwall (series 4–10)
  • Philip Middlemiss as David Buckley (series 4–10)
  • Brian Capron as Ozias Harding (series 8–10)
  • Andrew Paul as Billy Boothe (series 7–10)
  • Holly Lucas as Megan Boothe (series 10)
  • Adam Paul Harvey as Nathan Boothe (series 7–10)
  • Shobna Gulati as Nisha Clayton (series 10)
  • Ian Kelsey as Jack Clayton (series 10)
  • Fiona Wade as Rowan Clayton (series 10)
  • Richard Mylan as Danny Flint (series 9–10)
  • Taylor Bourke as Cady Flint (series 9–10)
  • Andrea Lowe as Zoë Phelps (series 10)
  • Joanna Riding as Terri Gough (series 10)
  • Wesley Nelson as Alfie Gough (series 10)
  • Tom Chadbon as Dr. Kenworthy (series 5–10)
  • Denise van Outen as Kim Blakeney (series 9–10)
  • Geraldine Newman as Mrs Murfin (series 4)
  • Katie Riddoch as Molly Beresford (series 6–9)
  • Pam Ferris as Peggy Snow (series 1–4)
  • Tony Haygarth as Vic Snow (series 1–6)
  • Leslie Ash as Karen Buckley (series 4–7)
  • Keith Barron as Alan Boothe (series 7–8)
  • Georgia Tennant as Alice Harding (series 8–9)
  • Kelly Wenham as Jess Buckley (series 4–7)
  • Julian Lewis Jones as Tom Beresford (series 6–9)
  • Samantha Giles as Sally Boothe (series 7–9, guest 10)
  • Thomas Craig as Simon Goddard (series 1–6, 9)
  • Sarah Lancashire as Ruth Goddard (series 1–3)
  • Andrew Knott as Henry Green (series 1–5)
  • William Ash as Stephen Snow (series 1–2)
  • Jason Done as Stephen Snow (series 3–5)
  • Jessica Baglow as Lucy Snow (series 1–6)
  • Danny Seward as Joe Beresford (series 6–9)
  • Kerrie Taylor as Beth Enright (series 5–9)
  • Holly Grainger as Megan Boothe (series 7–9)
  • Marsha Thomason as Jacqui Richards (series 2–3)
  • Paulette P Williams as Jacqui Richards (series 4–5)
  • Matthew Lewis as Billy Bevan (series 1)
  • Vincenzo Pellegrino as Chris Eckersley (series 4–5)
  • William Travis as Dick Lampard (series 1–6)
  • Kathryn Hunt as Cheryl Lampard (series 2–4)
  • Phillippa Wilson as Cheryl Lampard (series 5–6)
  • Kelly Harrison as Isabel Noakes (series 8)
  • Neil McCaul as Keith Harrison (series 3)
  • Melanie Kilburn as Sandra Harrison (series 3)
  • Alex Carter as Craig Harrison (series 3)

Series overview

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
166 April 199711 May 1997ITV
21019 April 19985 July 1998
31418 April 199925 July 1999
41630 April 20003 September 2000
51622 April 200112 August 2001
61221 April 20027 July 2002
796 July 200323 December 2003
8811 July 200429 August 2004
91026 June 200528 August 2005
10916 July 200610 September 2006

Home media

A tie in book based on the characters of Peggy and Ruth, which was written by Kate Lock was released on 7 May 1998. A television companion book was released on 28 October 1999. Series one to four of Where the Heart Is were released on DVD in the United Kingdom via Network. These are listed in the table below.

DVD SeasonEp #Original airedRegion 2 (UK)
Series 166 April – 11 May 199727 March 2006
Series 21019 April – 5 July 199821 May 2012
Series 31418 April – 25 July 19996 May 2013
Series 41630 April – 3 September 200010 March 2014