Our Yorkshire Farm, Gentleman Jack and All Creatures Great and Small - Why Yorkshire is so attractive to film crews

Yorkshire’s stunning scenery has provided a backdrop for a number of Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV series, and industry experts believe more film crews will soon flock to the county because the “missing piece of the jigsaw” is about to fall into place.

Gentleman Jack being filmed in Saltaire.
Gentleman Jack being filmed in Saltaire.

Screen Yorkshire provides funding for productions, highly skilled crew members and a range of other services to the filmmakers that are allured by the range of unique locations in God’s Own County.

The company has been struggling to help them with their desperate search for studio space, which is in short supply across the country, but a 130,000 sq ft state-of-the-art studio facility, called Leeds Studios, is due to open in Holbeck this summer.

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“While productions will always come to Yorkshire to use our locations and great landscapes, they wouldn't necessarily base themselves in Yorkshire previously if they needed studio space because we didn't have that available in a kind of central location,” said Caroline Cooper Charles, Head of Creative at Screen Yorkshire.

Actor Tom Cruise waves to onlookers as he walks to the set of his latest project, which is filming in the sidings of the railway station in the village of Levisham in the North York Moors.

“We hear it all the time from production companies who say ‘London is full, where else can we go?’ and obviously when we have all the other advantages that Yorkshire has to surround a studio with, we are now a really obvious choice.

“We have everything from the beautiful Dales to fantastic coastline, and a variety of different urban locations within very easy reach of one another, which is what productions are always looking for.”

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic shut down almost every production in Yorkshire, but dozens restarted after restrictions were eased in July 2020 and the government agreed to cover some coronavirus-related losses as part of a insurance £500m scheme.

“There has been a dent in our industry, but it's not like a full on car crash,” said Ms Cooper Charles.

Our Yorkshire Farm (Credit: Renegade Pictures)

Screen Yorkshire has helped 36 major feature film and TV productions get up and running since July 2020, including the second series of Gentleman Jack, Channel 5 drama Anne Boleyn and the second series of All Creatures Great and Small.

And earlier this year, Tom Cruise was seen taking on stunts on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for Mission: Impossible 7 and filming for Emily Brontë biopic Emily began in the West Yorkshire village of Haworth.

The talented professionals working behind the camera are not the only ones who are delighted to see the film industry is recovering after a difficult year.

Sally Folkard, Film Hub North's Strategic Manager, said there has "been lots of encouraging signs" for cinemas across the north since they were allowed to reopen on May 17.

"More venues have decided to reopen earlier, audiences are returning in greater numbers, and there’s a fantastic selection of films available to screen," she added. "Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing reports of lots of sell-outs and all of the numbers are positive. Last week’s box office was the strongest in over a year."

While the storylines and performances in these productions captivate the fans, people working in the tourism industry know the backdrops often inspire them to visit Yorkshire and walk in the footsteps of their favourite characters.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive James Mason said: “The last year has been a turbulent time for tourism, but seeing lovely locations on screen through dramas, feature films and documentaries is a great way to tempt tourists to visit and explore our breathtaking countryside, vibrant cities, impressive coastline and so much more.

“Pre-pandemic tourism was worth £9bn to the county, employing almost 225,000 people, and the film and TV industry in Yorkshire had a fantastic impact on the growth of tourism in the county, with visitor numbers increasing rapidly following the success of hit shows such as Gentleman Jack, Peaky Blinders and Victoria, plus the Downton Abbey film featuring wonderful heritage buildings and stunning scenery.”