AS Bradford emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and its economy begins its recovery after over a year of restrictions, it’s hoped the district’s place as a film and TV production hotspot will bring much needed investment into the city.

Bradford’s economy, like pretty much every city in the country and across the world, was dealt a massive blow when Covid-19 hit.

Businesses shut down uncertain when – if ever – they would reopen, around 30,000 jobs were lost, and work that wasn’t essential or could be done from home ceased.

But now that life is returning to normal it is hoped the city’s record of playing host to some of the biggest TV series of recent times and films will get the economy back on its feet – and that a successful bid for City of Culture 2025 would enhance that even further.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Keira Knightley in Official Secrets, filmed at City HallKeira Knightley in Official Secrets, filmed at City Hall

And with each project adding more than £10 million to the economy the film industry is set to be vital to the recovery.

The world’s first UNESCO City of Film, Bradford has a long history of playing host to major film and TV productions; Monty Python, The Railway Children and Yanks to name just a few.

In recent years this role as a hotbed of production has ramped up, with productions including Peaky Blinders, Gentleman Jack, and Downtown Abbey.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Corrie has been filmed in Bradford in the pastCorrie has been filmed in Bradford in the past

David Wilson, the head of Bradford City of Film and has seen first-hand the benefits film and TV has brought to the district.

“The producers, directors and other crew who worked on these productions all remember the excellent support they received from a wide range of people in Bradford,” he said, “who strive to main the city’s film friendly reputation, which in turn leads to return projects in other forms.”

Screen Yorkshire also plays a key role in bringing filming to the district, helping companies secure locations and permissions alongside Bradford City of Film.

So far this year it has supported 73 filming days in the district, the same number as in 2019 despite Covid restrictions that have been in place.

Caroline Cooper-Charles, head of creative at Screen Yorkshire, said each project is worth between £10m and £20m and 2021 is set to be “easily the busiest year for filming in Bradford since we launched our film office in 2018.’’

Covid has hit certain industries harder than others – hospitality in particular – and the return of filming would give these industries a boost, Mr Wilson explained, with the supply chain including “everything from hotel accommodation to catering, laundry services, logistics, security - the list goes on”.

“There is also the screen tourism effect. Many people choose to visit different parts of the world based on what they have seen on screen.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Films shot in Bradford has seen increased visitors at Bradford Police Museum, Martin Baines saidFilms shot in Bradford has seen increased visitors at Bradford Police Museum, Martin Baines said

He added the pandemic has led to more UK-based holidays, attracting more people to the district’s filming locations; Martin Baines, who runs Bradford Police Museum, has seen screen tourism’s benefits first hand. It’s cells and other settings have featured in a number of films and TV series.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of filming here, from Peaky Blinders, The ABC Murders and more and they do make a difference. People want to see where shows were filmed, it’s a big benefit.

“The effect of films will help Bradford going into the. More people are having staycations and local hotels encourage people to visit us. A sizeable number of our visitors come from outside the district and all over the world.”

Ms Cooper-Charles said screen tourism is “big business”, so much so Screen Yorkshire has launched the Filmed in Yorkshire website mapping out the county’s locations.

She added: “Screen locations are frequently cited as an important driver influencing choice of visitor destination.

“Dramas that have their stories rooted in Yorkshire are particularly influential in inspiring tourists from around the world to visit the region.’’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: All Creatures Great and Small was filmed in Bradford earlier this yearAll Creatures Great and Small was filmed in Bradford earlier this year

But what is holding this industry back? David Wilson conceded as the industry aims to become greener and demand increases, there is a struggle for supply to keep up.

“There is significant demand for studio space and spaces to build film and TV sets; the established studio spaces are reporting full order books for some time to come.

“Making large spaces available for pop up studios would be one way to ensure more production comes to Bradford.

“The pandemic has also driven the agenda in terms of sustainable production, which has also led to production companies wanting to use more local talent.

“Most people with experience in film and TV production are now working at full capacity and there is a desperate need to train more people and to do this as a matter of urgency.”

Some of Bradford’s other industries – manufacturing, chemicals and more – may not see as many benefits from increased filming, but the tourism and hospitality industries will certainly be helped back onto their feet by the increase in filming.