How Yorkshire-backed BBC hit Peaky Blinders acts as a 'calling card' for new drama in region

The red carpet will be rolled out this evening for the season five premiere of family gang drama Peaky Blinders - a show originally backed by and filmed largely in Yorkshire.

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby on set at the Black Country Museum, West Midlands, for the filming of the fifth series of popular gangster hit Peaky Blinders. Picture: Anita Maric /
Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby on set at the Black Country Museum, West Midlands, for the filming of the fifth series of popular gangster hit Peaky Blinders. Picture: Anita Maric /

Birmingham Town Hall will host cast members of the BBC One show this evening as the fifth installment begins.

But the first series of the programme, which stars Cillian Murphy, was both part-funded by Yorkshire industry andfilmed at some of the region's high-profile landmarks and lesser-known backdrops.

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It was the first project to benefit from Leeds-based Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund, which since being launched in February 2012 has invested in more than 40 projects.

This meant that the bulk of the production in series one was filmed in the county even though the drama is set in post-First World War Birmingham.

Hugo Heppell, head of investments at Screen Yorkshire, said that "we are incredibly proud to have played a role in creating one of the best loved international dramas.

"While the first series shot mostly in Yorkshire as a result of our investment, subsequent series broadened their location needs, however each one has returned to film some scenes in Yorkshire.

"The legacy is significant; every hit show that films here builds confidence in Yorkshire as a production centre and the ability of our great crew to deliver, an the returns from Peaky Blinders have enabled us to invest in many more film and TV productions in the region, meaning that not only did it act as a calling card for other high profile dramas to come and film here, it directly created more opportunities for the industry here in Yorkshire.’’

Frith Tiplady, who during the first series was executive producer of Tiger Aspect Productions, said at the time that the Birmingham they needed to recreate, due to a combination of the war and town planning, no longer existed.

She said that "Yorkshire was the best place to base the drama," with a "combination of fantastic period locations, great crew and support from Screen Yorkshire and the local council".

Most of the first series filming took place in Leeds and was supplemented with shooting at a couple of key locations in Liverpool and Birmingham.

Producers hired production offices and studio space at Studio 81 on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, and has filmed at locations including Leeds City Varieties, Leeds Town Hall, Braime Pressings in Hunslet, Bolton Abbey in Skipton, Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford, Peel Park in Bradford, Ilkley Winter Gardens, Newby Hall & Gardens in Ripon, Salts Mill in Saltaire, Brooke’s Mill in Huddersfield, Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and North Light Film Studios in Dalton Mill.

The Keighley-based Vintage Carriages Trust, which owns Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel, provided carriages and a steam locomotive for the first season.

Regional locations used in the new series include Bradford City Hall and a private house in Huddersfield.

Following a move from BBC Two to BBC One, series five of Steven Knight’s drama finds the world thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929.

When Tommy Shelby MP (Cillian Murphy) is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realises that his response will affect not just his family’s future but that of the entire nation.

According to the BBC, an average of 2.4m viewers were tuning in to watch the first series, but this jumped to 3.3m by series four - 11.8 per cent of the audience share.

Cast members returning to the Bafta-winning series include Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, Kate Phillips, Natasha O’Keeffe, Aidan Gillen, Jack Rowan, Charlie Murphy, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Harry Kirton, Packy Lee, Ned Dennehy, Ian Peck and Benjamin Zephaniah.

It is directed by Anthony Byrne (In Darkness, Butterfly, Ripper Street) and produced by Annie Harrison-Baxter (Marcella, In The Flesh, The Secret Of Crickley Hall).

After tonight's premiere, the first episode will then be shown at the BFI Southbank on July 23, but no broadcast date has officially been released.