THE LEGIONS of fans of Dad’s Army will know it is set in a fictional seaside town on the south coast, but the hapless Home Guard are making a move to God’s Own County.
Catherine Zeta Jones is among a stellar British cast, which also includes Sarah Lancashire, Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon, who have been signed up to star in the big-screen version of the Second World War sitcom which will be filmed in Yorkshire.
The announcement yesterday that shooting on location, which begins this month, will take place entirely in the county was heralded as a major coup.
Screen Yorkshire chief executive, Sally Joynson, said: “We are very excited to be announcing this news and it doesn’t get much better than this – a truly iconic series, a fabulous cast with some the cream of Britain’s acting talent – and all set in the stunning landscapes of Yorkshire.
“This is great news for Yorkshire and for Screen Yorkshire – the culmination of months of work and our investment has played a critical part.
“It’s a fitting finale to an already fabulous year for the region.”
The film was financed through executive producers Wiggin EP and is backed by Screen Yorkshire through the Yorkshire Content Fund. Those behind the film have not yet revealed the Yorkshire locations where they will be filming but there has been a suggestion Bridlington could be set to play a starring role.
Diane Davison, the co-owner of the Georgian Rooms on High Street, set to be one of the exteriors used for filming, said: “They are going to dress our windows but most of the filming will be done in the street. I just think it is great for the Old Town.”
Jeweller Carlo Verda, who lives on High Street – down whose narrow roadway a tank is reputed to have rolled during World War Two chewing up the wooden cobbles – said: “It’s got lots of character. People are always amazed how interesting it is.”
Mr Verda said that he hoped the film proved a huge success, bringing the Old Town international exposure, but added: “If the film doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders and people don’t connect with the characters they have been in love with for decades, it won’t make that much of a difference (to the area).
“But maybe with all the war memorials going on and it being more relevant, it may attract a new generation of people.”
Ms Zeta Jones will play a journalist sent to fictional Walmington-on-Sea to write about the men’s exploits in the film, which is directed by Oliver Parker and sees the hapless volunteers in search of a spy.
The cast for the film, based on the hugely popular TV show, includes Tom Courtenay as Corporal Jones and Mr Gambon as Godfrey.
Toby Jones has already been announced in the role of pompous bank manager Captain Mainwaring – played by Arthur Lowe in the original – and Bill Nighy will play his deputy, Sergeant Wilson.
Other cast members include Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison as Private Pike and Danny Mays as the spiv Walker and there are roles for Ms Lancashire, Alison Steadman, Mark Gatiss and Annette Crosbie.
The actors start filming this month in Yorkshire.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Gary Verity, said: “Yorkshire has been the backdrop to many iconic films and we’re delighted, thanks to Screen Yorkshire, that what looks set to be a huge hit will be filmed here. We look forward to welcoming Dad’s Army and the stellar cast to the region – we’ll make sure they are given a warm Yorkshire welcome.”
The show ran from 1968 to 1977, attracting 18m viewers at its height, and the original cast made a film in 1971.
About two million viewers still tune in for repeats of the original show, which was the creation of Jimmy Perry and David Croft.
Comment: Page 12