Cornish beaches featured in TV series Poldark have become overrun but what impact is filming here in Yorkshire having on our region? Laura Drysdale reports.
News that an all-star cast was filming in Bridlington for the Dad’s Army movie saw hotel bookings in the seaside resort soar by 70 per cent in just 24 hours.
It is just one example of the visitor boom that can be triggered in destinations selected as shooting locations for popular television shows or movies and for several years, the phenomenon of film or screen tourism has been recognised in economic reports.
Just this month, the Visit Cornwall tourist board stepped in to avoid overcrowding at Kynance Cove and Porthcurno Beach, both used for scenes in BBC One’s Poldark series. It said it had stopped promoting the two beaches due to gridlocked traffic.
According to flight comparison website Jetcost, destinations around the world are experiencing overexposure.
Maya Bay in Thailand, the location for 1998 film The Beach, has been temporarily closed in the hope the area can recover from a rise in waste and damage to the coral caused by overtourism. Dubrovnik in Croatia, where some scenes in Game of Thrones are filmed and Glen Etive in the Scottish Highlands, which has featured in Skyfall are among other affected locations.
As for Yorkshire? “There’s no ‘Cornwall effect’ here,” says Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. “We have the benefit of vastness with our stunning coastline, three national parks, three areas of outstanding natural beauty, and seven dynamic, vibrant cities.”
“The film and TV industry is growing faster in Yorkshire than anywhere else in UK”, he adds. “Its diversity of locations, accessibility, talent pool and value make it the perfect place to base a production.
“The industry as a whole is now worth £424 million per annum to the local economy boosting the tourism sector alone by £120 million a year and creating around a thousand jobs.”
One of the county’s most popular filming locations, according to Screen Yorkshire, which champions film, TV, games and digital industries in the region, is the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which has hosted the likes of Peaky Blinders, The Great Train Robbery, Swallows and Amazons, Testament of Youth and Dad’s Army.
“In terms of the impact of filming on tourism, at Screen Yorkshire some of our most memorable moments have been around the filming of Dad’s Army, in Bridlington,” a spokeswoman says.
“News that a cast including Catherine Zeta Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and other great names were filming in the resort saw hotel bookings go up by 70 per cent in the space of 24 hours.
“More generally, Yorkshire’s popularity as a filming location is booming – we’ve had an incredibly busy month with high profile stars including Annette Bening and Bill Nighy filming Hope Gap around Leeds and Doncaster and John Malkovich and Rupert Grint for BBC’s The ABC Murders (region wide).
“Victoria has also filmed in Hull’s Old Town this summer, following hot in the footsteps of feature film The Personal History of David Copperfield (literally filmed there the week before). Hull is becoming an increasingly popular location thanks to its well-preserved historic cobbled streets and period buildings, with Hull’s profile no doubt boosted by its City of Culture status last year.”
Across the region, projects are capitalising on the economic benefits filming can bring.
Bradford is a UNESCO City of Film and the University of Bradford Working Academy has launched the Bradford Film Heritage website, which includes tours of the city’s film history, whilst Calderdale, showcased in Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, also has its own film trail.