TV presenter Anita Rani visits Whitby and Scarborough in Saturday's Britain by Beach
TV presenter Anita Rani revisits childhood holiday haunts at Scarborough and Whitby in this Saturday’s episode of Channel 4’s Britain by Beach.
The last episode in the series begins on Tate Hill Sands, Whitby, where Rani discusses the arrival of Dracula, an event inspired by the wrecking of a Russian ship in 1885, with Dr Catherine Wynne from the University of Hull.
On the clifftop in St Mary’s Churchyard, Rani and Dr Wynne discuss the magnificence of the coastline which provided an ideal “stage” setting for the landing of Stoker’s demonic villain.
Author Bram Stoker worked as business manager of London’s Royal Lyceum theatre, Victorian Britain's leading theatre, and wrote in his spare time.
The year before he holidayed in Whitby in 1890, the theatre had staged “a very Gothic Macbeth”.
Dr Wynne said: “He came to Whitby with that fresh in his mind.
"Macbeth is a huge influence, there's the blood, the haunting, the supernatural.
"The three vampires in Dracula were inspired by the three witches in Macbeth.”
The programme then covers Scarborough, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, and Robin Hood’s Bay, where Rani speaks to Dr Robb Robinson, also from Hull University, about smuggling in the18th and early 19th centuries, before returning to Whitby.
Quoting words from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk. Laces for a lady; letters for a spy," Dr Robinson said the geography of the coast lent itself to smuggling with people running goods to shore in fast luggers and unloading them in the narrow inlets or wykes.
The goods would then be carried over the moors on ponies to the inland towns.
At one point two-thirds of all the tea drunk in the UK was smuggled in because duties were so high.
"Legend tells us that a large proportion of the population were actively or passively involved in smuggling," said Dr Robinson.
"The poor, hapless people who had to police it, the Custom House riding officers, had a section of coast to look after, it was incredibly difficult for them."
As well as having a dip in the sea in a swimming costume - the filming was done last month when the water temperature was just 13C - Rani does what she did on every trip as a child, and ends eating fish and chips at the Quayside in Whitby.
Director Lucy Swingler said: "It was all to do with Anita's childhood experiences, much like everybody else's her day trip started with parking at Whitby Abbey, then going down the steps, going to the beach and ending with fish and chips.
"We talk about sea bathing as a medicinal cure - swimming now is very popular.
"We decided early on that to be authentic she had not to wear a wet suit - but she was fine, she was really game and she didn't make a fuss.
"She loved it."
Britain by Beach starts at 8pm on November 27.