THIS weekend sees the return of Alan and Celia Buttershaw, whose late-life romance unfolded so beautifully in Bafta-winning BBC1 drama Last Tango in Halifax.

Writer Sally Wainwright recently joined Anne Reid, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker, who head the cast, at a preview screening. Fans who won tickets in a prize draw - more than 7,000 applied - jostled for selfies with the cast at Halifax’s Square Chapel Arts Centre. A whoop of delight went out as Anne Reid stepped onto the red carpet. “We think you’re marvellous,” said someone in the crowd.

What is it about this show that people love so much? It began in 2012; the story of former teenage sweethearts reunited as widowed pensioners 50 years later. Stage and screen veteran Anne Reid has worked with the likes of Daniel Craig and Victoria Wood. But, she says, she has never been in anything quite like Last Tango. “There’s nothing else like it, is there? I have never been in anything else that has had people all over the world asking when it’s coming back. Expectations are high.”

Yorkshire writers like Sally Wainwright and Kay Mellor are boosting the region by setting and filming their stories here. Mellor’s dramas including The Chase and The Syndicate have been filmed in Bradford, Leeds and Otley. The Syndicate is to return this year.

The new series of Last Tango in Halifax features more than 80 children from Articulate Drama School in Bradford, including eight-year-old Tilly Kaye who plays Calamity, Alan’s great grand-daughter. Locations include Ilkley, Elland, Sowerby Bridge, Ripponden and Halifax town centre.

Sally says it showcases the beauty of the district: “There are lots of things in production here, it’s great. It’s becoming more and more a place to film, because it’s so beautiful.”

Added Anne: “One of my favourite locations is Ripponden - there’s a lovely sprawling view of it from Alan and Celia’s bungalow. I’m from the North East, I have fond memories of hitch-hiking across the North York Moors as a girl. Yorkshire offers something so fantastic and diverse for film-makers.”

It’s a region that is now globally recognised as a hub for TV and film production, says head of BBC North, Rozina Breen.

TV dramas such as Last Tango in Halifax, Gentleman Jack - Sally Wainwright’s hit series about 19th-century landowner Anne Lister, which led to a 700 per cent rise in tourism at Shibden Hall - Dracula, Peaky Blinders and Victoria have boosted visitor numbers, with more growth predicted for 2020.

Following the extraordinary success of Gentleman Jack, on both sides of the Atlantic, Halifax is now a hotspot for LGBT tourism. From April 1-10 the town celebrates Anne Lister’s birthday at several events, with visitors expected from America, Canada and Iceland.

“Yorkshire’s media industry has taken a quantum leap in the last few years,” says Rozina. “Media bodies from around the world are sitting up and noticing just how much the region has to offer. Shows like Gentleman Jack and Dracula are great for tourism, but also create hundreds of jobs. By 2027 we want two thirds of all BBC jobs to be based outside London and I’m proud that Yorkshire will play a part in that.”

James Mason, chief executive at Welcome to Yorkshire, says: “The diversity of urban, rural and coastal locations makes the county a perfect place to film and is a real positive for local businesses too. There are many productions to look forward to this year that were shot in Yorkshire, from All Creatures Great and Small to The Secret Garden. It’s no surprise that after seeing Yorkshire on screen, people want to experience its beauty and drama.”

Other filming locations include Saltaire, where scenes for Julian Fellowes’ forthcoming Netflix drama The English Game were shot last summer. The production company was supported by Bradford’s film office, which also worked on dramas such as Peaky Blinders, The ABC Murders and Victoria, all high end productions filmed across the district in City Hall, Bradford Club, Dalton Mills and Undercliffe Cemetery.

Last year Bradford celebrated its 10th anniversary as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, and director David Wilson says 2019 has seen “virtually non-stop production”.

“We’ve supported The English Game and new film Ali and Ava, which based its production office in Little Germany for three months and shot the entire film in Bradford. Local people were recruited for crew and extras,” he says.

“We’ve supported development projects including a new Channel 4 pilot comedy and factual TV including The One Show, Grand Designs and Scrap Kings. All this provides direct employment opportunities or supply chain such as hotels, and there’s the screen tourism impact. The district is held in high regard and with a lot of affection by production managers, producers and directors who are making repeat visits.”

A total of 27 high-end TV productions and 14 films were filmed in the region in 2019, creating over 1,500 days of work for local crews. Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire, says: “The value of filming activity to the region is substantial, with budgets for the productions we’ve supported over the past year averaging between £10m and £20m per project.

“Our investment fund attracts projects like The Duke (a new film starring Dame Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, shot in Bradford earlier this year) and Official Secrets, providing jobs for local crew and raising the global profile of Yorkshire.’’