Where the Heart Is is a British television family drama series set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Skelthwaite. First shown in 1997, it was created by Ashley Pharoah and Vicky Featherstone and focuses on the professional and personal lives of the district nurses who work in the town. The original leads were Sarah Lancashire and Pam Ferris, who played sisters-in-law and colleagues at the Skelthwaite Health Centre. Both actresses had left the series by 2000, however, the format of at least two female leads continued with various actresses until the show's end. A typical episode would focus on one or two medical storylines interwoven with personal stories featuring one or both nurses.
The show followed the lives of the people of Skelthwaite, a fictional small Yorkshire town; particularly the work of the district nurses at the town's health centre. It originally focused on the extended Snow and Goddard family — sisters-in-law and close friends Peggy Snow (Ferris) and Ruth Goddard (Lancashire) worked together as district nurses, while Ruth's husband and Peggy's younger brother Simon (Thomas Craig) was the town's mainEMPLOYER through his paper products factory. Peggy's husband Vic (Tony Haygarth) and her children Stephen and Lucy provided family-focused storylines which sat alongside the medical-based plots.
The programme underwent major changes at the end of series three and beginning of series four, with first Lancashire and then Ferris departing. Ruth and Simon split, with Ruth moving to Australia and Peggy tragically dying following aROAD ACCIDENT involving a horse which also left her daughter Lucy fighting for her life. Storylines continued to focus on the rest of the family, with Simon and Vic adjusting to life as single men (and for Vic, as a single father), whilst old friends Anna Kirkwall (Lesley Dunlop) and Karen Buckley (Leslie Ash) took over at the health centre. Anna began a romance with Simon, only for her to reject him just before their wedding day, knowing that he wanted to be with Ruth and Alfie in Australia, whilst Karen's marriage to David (Philip Middlemiss) crumbled when she chose to focus on helping her long-lost sonRECOVER from his drug addiction (leading to Ash's departure from the series in 2003). Anna and David later became a couple, married and remained the show's lead characters for the rest of its run. Several other nurses would work alongside Anna during this time, most notably Sally Boothe (Samantha Giles), whose family became the focus of many of the non-medical storylines after the remaining members of the Snow family departed in 2002. In an echo of the Snow family's development, Sally was also killed off, with later storylines focusing on her family's attempts to cope without her.
Over the years the cast was expanded and the show became more of an ensemble drama, with typically three major nurse characters at any one time alongside other townsfolk (typically workers at Goddard's Paper Products and their families).
The series was filmed in the Colne and Holme valleys of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire using the real life villages of Marsden, Slaithwaite and Meltham for many of the external shots. The first series was mostly filmed in Slaithwaite, with some exterior shots filmed in the village of Baildon, but from series 2 onwards, Marsden was used as the principal filming location.