More than 40 notable people have spoken about their lives and Sheffield to Star interviewer Richard Blackledge over the past 12 months – here are some of the best quotes and highlights from the year’s conversations.
Michael Palin: “Sheffield had lots of space, outside on the moors and the crags up in Lodge Moor and all that – you could access the countryside straight away. It had hills, stone buildings, all these things I rather miss in London. But London is a good working town for what I do – I still feel I’m just a lodger. I’m still energetic, very curious and open to ideas. I’m not thinking of giving up.”
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University: “People say to me I’m part of the establishment – and I couldn’t possibly pretend that’s not true. But I’ve always felt I’ve been able to keep a foot out, because of the strong sense I have of pride in my background. Too many people have no idea how the majority live.”
Sir Michael Parkinson: "If I were a young man today I would not know how to start a career in journalism. Nothing in it attracts me any more. I don’t want to write for the internet, I don’t want to write all that nonsense – I don’t want to be that kind of person. The fact of the matter is, I had a better time and an easier time. There was more choice, all the way through. And also, we were able to drink on the job.”
Prof Sir Simon Wessely, Sheffield-born top psychiatrist: "There are disputes and battles across medicine, but most people can't understand them. In psychiatry a lot of people can: mad or bad? When does sadness become depression? What is autism? People know instinctively they can take part in those debates. Ordinary people can get involved in what we do. And if you don't like that, you won't really like psychiatry very much."
Dan Bates, chief executive, Sheffield Theatres: "We play a big part in attracting visitors to the city, and new business. It’s about thinking ‘What does a decent city in the UK need?’ – you probably need a decent theatre. Producers love coming to Sheffield. The staff are a little bit more – I’m going to say it – skilled. Other places are a bit like ‘We just unload the lorry and shove it on’.”
Ian Rankin, Inspector Rebus author who hosted discussion in Sheffield: "Crime fiction comes back to a very central question. Why do human beings keep doing terrible things to one another? Murder is the taking away of something unique and irreplaceable from the world. Which is why it’s still the most shocking crime imaginable.”
Alex Johnson, South Yorkshire assistant chief fire officer: “There’s certainly not many women in these senior positions. You can probably count on one hand how many of us there are in the country. So I feel quite privileged, as if I’m a bit of a trailblazer. I want to see more women coming into the service and progressing up the ranks, and I guess I’m proof you can do that.”
Clive Betts, Sheffield South East MP, who revealed his cancer diagnosis to The Star: “My GP said, ‘This is not a disaster. Just get on and live your life, carry on doing what you do and remain positive’. It’s something I’ve been treated for, I’ll have to have a bit of time off, at the end of that I’ll be back firing on all cylinders and doing the job I’m paid to do. It’s nothing that’s going to involve a by-election in the near future. At the next by-election I’ll be knocking on doors.”
Sharna Jackson, artistic director of new-look Site Gallery: “We’ll be open more days so we will all have to pick up the slack. But I’m not making people work every night, that’s not what I do. In arts and culture we are quite respectful of people’s time. It’s very different to when I worked in start-ups and the media – I mean, it was encouraged to be there at midnight, eating pizza, working on a release. And that’s not the culture I want to foster here.”
Graham Fellows, creator of John Shuttleworth: “I do still like songs about little things, rather than big subjects. I don’t tend to write a song about nuclear war; I write a song about a bit of paper on the floor in the Army General’s office.”
Lord Bob Kerslake, former Sheffield Council chief executive who led Manchester Arena bombing review: “I love the variety of what I can do. We only exist once, and we should make an impact. I can compartmentalise. But I can also connect things as well.”
Paddy Considine, star and director of boxing film Journeyman, shot in Sheffield: “When you say ‘action’ I’m in character, and when you say ‘cut’, I’m out. There’s a lot of young actors out there who fancy themselves as method actors, but I don’t think they quite understand it. A lot of method actors think it’s an excuse to act obtuse and weird on set – that’s the opposite of what I am.”
Jack Hunter-Spivey, Paralympic table tennis player: "I was always on Tinder and some people did reject you for being in a wheelchair. It’s a taboo to talk about sex and girls, because you’re put in that pigeonhole of ‘You don’t do that'. Paralympic sport is so professional now. It’s amazing to have household names like Hannah Cockcroft and Jonnie Peacock doing A Question of Sport – all these things Olympians would do.”
Magid Magid, Sheffield’s Lord Mayor: “I hope by the fact I am a black, Muslim immigrant – everything the Daily Mail probably hates – people will look and say ‘In Sheffield we’re proud of doing things differently and celebrating our differences’. Whatever opportunities I get, I just grab. I really have no idea what I’m doing in life, in the sense that I haven’t got a plan. As long as I’m always bettering myself, and pushing myself, that’s the main thing.”
Linder Sterling, Chatsworth’s first artist in residence: “The work I was doing in 1976 was very simple – just going into a newsagent and finding as many different images of women as I could, whether that was in a fashion magazine, a childrearing family magazine or a pornographic image. I wanted to see the difference in how women were portrayed, from Playboy through to Woman’s Own and Vogue. Within this house it’s still the same, looking at different portrayals of the female lineage, and then the domestic objects, which are so exquisite and extraordinary."
John Somers, chief executive, Sheffield Children’s Hospital: “The private sector is held in great esteem, but public service is the core fabric of our society. We have international-standard surgeons; if they wanted to, they could go and practise in Saudi Arabia and earn millions. They do some private work, but they want to give back.”
Robert Peston, ITV Political Editor and Off The Shelf guest: “If our banks had gone bust, it would have been an utter economic catastrophe. I don’t mean that in theoretical terms – millions of people would have been in dire straits. If you had a situation where people lost all their savings, where banks were unable to provide the credit businesses need to keep going, it would have been like the 1930s or worse.”
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, Recorder of Sheffield: “Nobody can tell me what to do. Of course I’m bound by the law, but what I do in a particular case and the way I implement the law is entirely a matter for me. That is fundamental to our constitution.”
Katrina Bunker, Editor of BBC Radio Sheffield: "The internet has absolutely transformed everything we do. We are still making great radio but we’ve also got to think about how we engage with audiences on social media and get all our big local stories on to BBC online as well. Our journalists don’t just tell stories for the radio any more - they’re also getting pictures and video, and thinking about stories that might work for social media. It’s a journey we’re still very much on, because that world changes all the time."
Prof Dame Hilary Chapman, outgoing chief nurse of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals: “Now, nurses can do practically anything. We can deliver the whole package of care. We have nurse consultants, consultant midwives, advanced nurse practitioners in neonatal, the emergency department – all over the hospital. It’s a passport to anything you want to do. The really great thing is you can stay at the bedside from the day you register to the day you leave.”
Pete McKee, artist: “Poverty is always mentioned in my work, because we were skint. People who like my work have grown up in a very similar situation to me. We might have fortunately found a way to put more money in our back pocket than we had when we were kids running round the estate, but you don’t forget that. You can look back and say ‘We survived it and we’re better for it’.”
Matthew Bannister, Sheffield-born broadcaster who controversially restructured Radio 1: “To be honest with you, I think I am now vindicated. Without what we did, there would have been big trouble for the BBC. Radio 1 has thrived and is still the engine room for new talent and music in the BBC, and increasingly a kind of multimedia service for young people.”
Martyn Ware, founding member of Heaven 17 and The Human League: “It’s just not the same now, is it – it’s a different, less future-facing world. There’s less optimism around, shall we say, and that’s putting it mildly. I’m very proud of the fact young people are now really getting ‘woke’ to the idea they need to shape their own future. And they are making it happen.”
Jodi Picoult, bestselling US author and Off The Shelf speaker: “My fan mail is 50 per cent male... and yet I get called a women’s fiction author. Do you ever hear anyone called a male fiction author? When a book is called women’s fiction it has less to do with the content than with the genitalia of the author."
John Cooper Clarke, poet appearing in Sheffield in March 2019: “I’ve always considered poetry to be a phonetic medium, rather than something you read to yourself. I always advise that even if you’re reading someone’s poetry in a book, read it aloud – if it doesn’t sound any good, it isn’t any good. Essentially, I think, poetry pre-dates mass literacy by a long way."