Yorkshire is the star of the screen - here is our top 20 gems

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It requires just four words to explain why Yorkshire is such a magnet for film-makers and television producers: location, location, location. And brass.

The glorious - and not so glorious - faces of the broad acres continue to take centre stage on the small and silver screen with cinema-goers and TV viewers alike set to enjoy some familiar sights in the weeks and months ahead.

David Jason

David Jason

Next month one of television’s biggest hits of 2014 returns to BBC One with the second series of Happy Valley.

The police drama has again been largely shot in the Calder Valley and around Huddersfield and is expected to be another ratings success for writer Sally Wainwright and its cast, which includes Sarah Lancashire.

Wainwright has done more than most to lift the profile of God’s own country in recent years with a string of popular and critical TV hits that were all filmed in Yorkshire, including At Home With The Braithwaites, Unforgiven and Last Tango in Halifax.

A York University graduate, Ms Wainwright hails from Sowerby Bridge and her writing demonstrates the value of local knowledge, a view not lost on her mentor Kay Mellor, whose West Yorkshire roots have been critical in the success of dramas such as Fat Friends, The Chase, Band of Gold and The Syndicate.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 18:00:01 on 08/11/2015 - Programme Name: Happy Valley series 2 - TX: 01/01/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **Early Release Image** Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 18:00:01 on 08/11/2015 - Programme Name: Happy Valley series 2 - TX: 01/01/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **Early Release Image** Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Being born in Yorkshire may not be a prerequisite to writing successful dramas set in this fine county, but it clearly helps, as does a White Rose lineage.

Steve Thompson, the creator of the imaginative period drama Jericho, which tells the story of the construction of the Ribblehead viaduct, lives in Cambridge but was inspired to write about the communities involved in the engineering project by his visits to Yorkshire as a child with his Huddersfield-born mother.

Whilst Yorkshire’s cinematic and televisual heritage can be traced back over half a century to an era when ‘kitchen sink dramas’ This Sporting Life, Room at the Top and Billy Liar were filmed in the county, the recent surge in interest owes much to the work of Screen Yorkshire.

The film and TV agency has provided an economic boost of around £25 million to the region in the last three years through judicious management of a modest ‘content fund.’

Oakwell Hall used in  the BBCdrama Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Oakwell Hall used in the BBCdrama Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Screen Yorkshire chief executive Sally Joynson said: “The vision for the fund was to make Yorkshire one of the most sought-after destinations for production in the UK.

“The impact that the fund has had … has been absolutely extraordinary.”

The influence of what people watch , on how, and where they spend their money away from the gogglebox should not be understated: in a survey last year by train company CrossCountry, 39 per cent of people said they had visited a destination after seeing it in a TV drama.

The most successful region in the survey was Yorkshire, with more than one in five people (22 per cent) stating their intention to visit the county after being inspired by television programmes.

From Castle Howard to Hebden Bridge, Halifax to Hambleton, and Haworth to Holmfirth, here are our top 20 screen moments which have helped put Yorkshire on the map:

1 - Emmerdale

Launched in 1972 as Emmerdale Farm, this soap opera about the lives of country folk set in a fictional Dales community with a worrying level of crime and man-made disasters still draws audiences of over seven million people, even without Seth Armstrong and Amos Brearly. Once filmed at Esholt, near Bradford, the location is now a purpose-built set on the Harewood House estate, Leeds.

2 - Brideshead Revisited

Granada’s 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel remains a tour de force of British television, largely as a result of a great script, fine performances by its leading actors Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, and the sumptuous setting of Castle Howard near York.

3 - A Touch of Frost

ITV’s detective drama starred David Jason as DI William Edward “Jack” Frost in the show which aired between 1992 and 2010. It was filmed at locations across Yorkshire, including Rishworth Street and Westgate station in Wakefield, Carlton Lane Shopping Centre in Castleford and parts of Pontefract.

4 - Heartbeat

Set in the 1960s and filmed in and around the village of Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors, this police drama captured the innocence of the decade in 18 series between 1992 and 2010. Stars included Derek Fowlds, Nick Berry, John Duttine, Tricia Penrose and Philip Franks.


5 - Last of the Summer Wine

Holmfirth provided the backdrop for the delightfully daft and endearing drama written by Roy Clarke whose comedy creations Foggy, Compo, Clegg and Nora Batty got up to all manner of escapades (many involving a tin bath on wheels) between 1973 and 2010.

6 - Last Tango in Halifax

The presence of Sarah Lancashire, Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid helped but stunning scripts from Sally Wainwright about the trials and tribulation of finding love late in life helped make this romantic drama a massive hit between 2012 and 2015.

7 - This Sporting Life

David Storey, a former professional rugby league player, adapted his Wakefield-set tale from his novel for the 1963 feature film. It was directed by Lindsay Anderson and starred Richard Harris, who won Best Actor at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival. The drama about sport and doomed relationships was filmed at locations such as Wakefield Trinity’s stadium Belle Vue (as it was then called), the top of 
Westgate.

8 - Blow Dry

The late Alan Rickman took a lead role in this off-beat story about competitors in the British Hairdressing Championship in Keighley. The 2001 feature was filmed in Batley and Dewsbury, and starred other Hollywood big shots such as Josh Hartnett, Rachael Leigh Cook, Heidi Klum and Bill Nighy.

9 - Happy Valley

Sarah Lancashire and Sally Wainwright struck TV gold again in 2014 with the BAFTA award-winning police drama filmed in Huddersfield, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Keighley, Luddenden, Todmorden, Heptonstall, Halifax and Huddersfield. A second series starts next month.

10 - Educating Yorkshire

First broadcast in 2013, this uplifting and insightful documentary captured the lives of the teachers and pupils at Thornhill Academy, Dewsbury, and won an Emmy and National Television Award, as well as hero status for its headmaster, Jonny Mitchell.

11 - Band of Gold

Writer Kay Mellor’s talent shone through in all three series of this drama about the lives of a group of women involved in the red light district of Bradford. Many of the scenes were filmed in and around the notorious Lumb Lane in the West Yorkshire city between 1995 and 1997. The cast included Barbara Dickson, Geraldine James and Samantha Morton.

12 - The New Statesman

Late British comedy legend Rik Mayall played scheming Tory MP Alan B’Stard in this ITV show, which ran from 1986 to 1992. In 1988 a house on St John’s Square in Wakefield was turned into Downing Street. The Georgian square was filled with crews and lit up to film Rik entering the Prime Minister’s home.

13 - DCI Banks

Based on the Inspector Alan Banks novels by Canadian-based Yorkshire writer Peter Robinson, DCI Banks ran for 26 episodes between 2010 and 2015 with Stephen Tompkinson in the title role. It was filmed at over 40 locations around Yorkshire.

14 - Where The Heart Is

Originally starring Sarah Lancashire and Pam Ferris, this series also featured Philip Middlemiss, Samantha Giles, Leslie Ash and Lesley Dunlop and told the story of district nurses in the fictional town of Skelthwaite. Its 110 episodes were largely filmed in Marsden, Slaithwaite and Meltham.

15 - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Based on the debut novel of Susanna Clarke, this 2015 historical fantasy was set in the Napoleonic wars at a time when conjurers and magicians were enlisted to fight the French. Locations included St John’s in Wakefield, Oakwell Hall in Birstall, Kirkstall Abbey; Fountains Abbey; York Minster; Wentworth Woodhouse; and Temple Newsam.

16 - Jericho

A 2016 historical drama which recounts the life and work of the transient communities that established makeshift towns in Victorian England during the construction of Britain’s rail network, and in particular the Ribblehead Viaduct. Starring Jessica Raine, Hans Matheson and Mark Addy, the series was filmed in Barnsley, Huddersfield and Heptonstall.

17 - Red Riding

A 2009 three-part adaptation of a quartet of books by Ossett-born David Peace, Red Riding examines police corruption and organised crime during investigations into serial killings in Yorkshire in the 1970s and 1980s. Its stars included Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Jim Carter and Warren Clarke, who were filmed at locations including the Yorkshire Post building in Leeds, Seacroft Hospital, Cookridge Hospital, Armley prison and the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.

18 - Peaky Blinders

The Peaky Blinders were a Birmingham-based gang whose exploits were captured in two six-part series first aired on BBC Two in 2013 and 2014. A third series is currently being filmed. Although set in the Midlands, Yorkshire film locations include Leeds City Varieties; Bolton Abbey; Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford; Peel Park, Bradford; Leeds Town Hall; Ilkley Winter Gardens; Newby Hall and Gardens; Saltaire; and the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

19 - In Loving Memory

Set in 1929, the sit-com In Loving Memory starred Thora Hird and Christopher Beeny as mother and son undertakers in the fictional Yorkshire town of Oldshaw and featured 37 episodes between 1969 and 1986. Locations included Luddenden and Bramham Park.

20 - Great Train Robbery

Yorkshire locations featured in two dramas for BBC One in 2013 . The cast list was led by Luke Evans and locations included the Adelphi pub and Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds; Bradford city centre; Bradford City Hall; Buttershaw; Shipley; Howarth; 
Filey and Goole.