IT didn’t take long for word to get out that Game of Thrones star Kit Harington had been spotted in a Saltaire bar, or that he and other cast and crew of his new TV drama had descended on a nearby bistro for an evening.
The actor has been filming BBC series Gunpowder at locations in the district, including Bradford College’s Garden Mills building, Dalton Mills in Keighley, Ilkley Moor and Oakwell Hall, Birstall. The drama, about the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, features a starry cast including Mr Harington, best known as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, Liv Tyler, Peter Mullan and Mark Gatiss.
And this week cast and crew from Peaky Blinders were at Bradford’s City Hall filming scenes for series four of the hugely popular 1920s gangster drama, starring Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody.
Producer Joe Donaldson said: “Bradford has some fantastic period buildings and locations that lend themselves perfectly to our filming needs.”
It’s not the first time Peaky Blinders has filmed here. Locations for the first series included Undercliffe Cemetery and Peel Park.
Both Peaky Blinders and Gunpowder are the latest in a long line of productions filming in Bradford - not only using properties for location shoots, but also putting up cast and crew in local hotels and using local facilities, generating spin-off benefits for businesses. It’s music to the ears of David Wilson, director of Bradford City of Film, who is getting enquiries from film-makers every week. The City of Film office, he says, has never been busier.
The district’s period architecture is a big draw for producers - and not just Victorian buildings. In January filming for new comedy-drama Funny Cow, starring Maxine Peake, took place at an authentic 1970s cafe at Bradford’s Oastler Centre.
Maxine Peake and co-star Vic Reeves, were also spotted filming in Saltaire for the film, about a comedienne in the 1970s. The production company created a 1950s set in a terraced house in Mary Street for flashback scenes. “We quickly decided that Saltaire was the perfect location when we came up to see it,” said producer Kevin Proctor. “Saltaire is cinematic. It has given us a snapshot of England that we don’t see any more.”
Other filming took place at Bradford’s Midland Hotel (where Peaky Blinders has also been shooting), Bradford Playhouse in Little Germany and Shipley Market Square. “The crew were very complimentary about Saltaire, its streets and moorland backdrop, and the ‘retro appeal’ of Shipley,” says David Wilson. “Bradford has played a key role in all these productions. Producers and other crew work on various projects; I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them here again. We have a long list of people wanting to come back and film in the Bradford district.”
It’s good news for the local economy. Mr Wilson said at least 50 crew from Peaky Blinders have stayed here over the past week, mostly at the Bradford Hotel, and are set to return next month. Crew from Gunpowder stayed at the Mercure Bradford Bankfield Hotel in Bingley. “That was a 15-week shoot. It goes without saying that while they’re here, people will use local shops, bars and restaurants,” says Mr Wilson.”We took 35 members of the Peaky Blinders crew to MyLahore in Bradford for lunch, they loved it.
“Peaky Blinders is massive in America and around the world. Fans have Peaky Blinders-themed weddings! This is a show with a global following, filmed here in Bradford. It’s great that as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, we’re playing a role in the show’s ongoing success.”
Mr Wilson and his team also worked with Sally Wainwright’s 2016 Bronte drama, To Walk Invisible, now out on DVD, shot in Haworth, Ghost Stories, co-written by the League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson and starring Martin Freeman, shot in Saltaire, and 2015 film Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette who stayed at Ilkley’s Cow and Calf Hotel during filming on the moorland, and in Haworth.
Bradford City of Film provides assistance with locations, crew, highways and traffic control and services such as hotels and catering. “The Peaker Blinders crew were impressed with parking services here, they’d been really responsive to their needs,” said Mr Wilson. “We work with many agencies and businesses - these film-friendly credentials, as well as Bradford’s amazing architecture and landscapes, is why we’re enjoying so many repeat visits.”
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