‘IT’S the same...just a bit different’.

That’s the key message behind Otley’s fourth annual promotional Christmas film.

The three minute video, produced by Visit Otley, features plenty of ‘normal’ festive activities taking place in the town - from shopping and admiring the Christmas lights to enjoying a stroll or run on the Chevin.

But it also includes a number of nods to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all of our lives.

People are pictured shopping while wearing masks and socially distancing, or using click-and-collect services after ordering online.

And the film’s song - an Otley-specific adaptation of the traditional Christmas tune The Holly Bears a Berry - is performed by local musicians who are all wearing specialist Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The song, whose refrain states that ‘And the best place at Christmas well that is Otley’, is sung by Sally Egan, the choral director at Leeds Cathedral Choir School.

Sally also provided the lyrics and is supported on vocals and guitar by Ukulele Orchestra founder Jennifer Pugh.

The song was arranged and produced, meanwhile, by Richard Sabey at Otley’s Woolpack Music Studios.

Funding for the film was provided by Otley’s Town Coordination Committee which consists of members of the Town Council, Otley Business Improvement District (Otley BID), Otley Chamber of Trade and Otley Town Partnership, as well as Leeds City Councillors.

Chair of Otley Town Council’s Trade and Tourism Committee, Councillor Paul Carter (Lib Dem, Manor Ward), said: “The Otley Christmas film has become an annual tradition that helps publicise Christmas in the town to tens of thousands of people online.

“This year’s shows that despite COVID-19 there are still many reasons to visit us over the festive season, as well as serving as a subtle reminder for people to follow current social distancing guidelines.”

The video was produced for a fourth time by Pool-in-Wharfedale’s Endure Communications, which acts as Otley’s tourism communications agency, with filming and editing done by Menston-based MChar Media.

The filming took place in and around Otley during the last week of November.

The film features a string of well-known Otley characters including Town Poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard, various shopkeepers, business owners and market traders and town and ward councillors.

There is also a ‘surprise’ appearance in the final scene by Otley Bellman Terry Ford.

Mr Ford, who is a multiple award winner, is seen standing in full regalia with his bell by the Jubilee Clock as he welcomes viewers to ‘Otley in beautiful Wharfedale’.

He then sheds his mask to deliver, in a booming voice, the message: “And a Merry Christmas one and all!”

Otley BID Chair Tom Hatley said: “Like most of the country Otley’s businesses have been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“But they have remained resolute in providing an incredible service where they have been allowed to do so under the Covid guidelines.

“We are confident the video’s reach will give them a much-needed boost as we emerge from the second national lockdown into the festive trading season.”

The film is now live on the Visit Otley website, at www.visitotley.co.uk, and on the organisation’s social media channels.

After suffering an extremely tough trading year due to the coronavirus Otley’s shopkeepers and market stall holders are hoping for a boost in the run-up to Christmas.

Two Super Sunday shopping days are being held in the town, on December 6 - which would have been the day of this year’s Victorian Fayre if it had been allowed to go ahead - and December 20, the date of the final Farmers’ Market of 2020.