FROM Wuthering Heights to Damon and Debbie, Bradford is no stranger to romantic dramas.

As the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, Bradford is a magnet for film-makers, and television and big screen productions shot here over the years have included several love stories.

According to a recent study, Keighley is the UK’s joint most romantic filming location. The study, by TourScanner, revealed that nearly a quarter of films and TV dramas shot in the area have been romances. Films have included Bronte-related classics and 2022 film Emily, which re-imagines how Emily Bronte came to write Wuthering Heights, inspired by a romance with curate William Weightman. The Bafta-nominated film, shot in Haworth, stars Emma Mackey, of Netflix hit Sex Education, as Emily and Line of Duty actor Adrian Dunbar as Patrick Bronte.

Popular filming locations in the Keighley area have included Dalton Mills, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and moorland. Guillaume Picard, co-founder of TourScanner, says: “Film tourism has become a major travel trend in recent years, as movie and television enthusiasts have taken to visiting locations featured in their favourite productions. Romance is one of the most popular genres, and such movies and TV programmes are often set in breathtaking locations. Visiting these locations could make a great Valentine’s break.”

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here’s a look at some of the love stories filmed in, and linked to, the Bradford district:

* Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte’s only novel is one of the world’s greatest love stories and has inspired many film and television and films, including a 1920 silent film, 1998 Japanese film, Arashi ga oka and 1996 Bollywood film Dil Diya Dard Liya.The story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, free spirits bound by a destructive passion, has also been a ballet, an opera, a graphic novel and a musical. Who could forget Cliff Richard as Heathcliff?

The 1939 classic, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, is much-loved but, like many versions, doesn’t tell the full story. Other movies include director Andrea Arnold’s 2011 film with James Howson as a black Heathcliff and a 1992 film starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes.

On TV, Charlton Heston played Heathcliff in a 1950 CBS drama and among the many other TV adaptations are Sally Wainwright’s 2002 role reversal series Sparkhouse, starring Sarah Smart as the anti-hero, and a 2009 version starring Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, shot at East Riddlesden Hall and Oakwell Hall in Birstall.

* Jane Eyre: “Reader, I married him,” says the “poor, obscure, plain and little” heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s novel when she finally finds happiness with brooding Mr Rochester. Jane Eyre has inspired countless films, including several Indian language versions, 1962 Egyptian film The Man I Love and 1963 Mexican movie, El Secreto.

More well known films include the 1970 adaptation starring George C. Scott and Susannah York; Franco Zeffirelli’s 1996 movie starring William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the 2011 film starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. TV productions starred Ciarán Hinds and Samantha Morton (1997) and Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (2006).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar in Ali & Ava Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar in Ali & Ava (Image: Altitude)

* Ali & Ava: Otley-born director Cli Barnard’s 2021 contemporary love story was filmed largely in Holme Wood and involved local people as cast and crew. The film is about a middle-aged woman Irish-Catholic woman who meets a younger Asian man. They bond over a love of music and tentatively begin a relationship neither of their families approve of. Starring Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook, Ali & Ava had its northern premiere in Bradford.

* Room at the Top: Bingley writer John Braine’s novel was made into a 1959 film, directed by Jack Clayton, starring Simone Signoret and Laurence Harvey. and filmed at Bradford’s City Hall. In 2021 Room at the Top was made into a mini-series starring Matthew McNulty and Maxine Peake. Although not technically a romance, the story of ambitious, working-class Joe Lampton who, while pursuing the daughter of a wealthy business boss has a passionate affair with an older woman, is ultimately one of love and tragedy.

* South Riding: At the heart of Winifred Holtby’s novel about a Yorkshire community in the 1930s is the tempestuous relationship between idealistic young headmistress Sarah Burton and landowner Robert Carne.

Andrew Davies’ BBC adaptation, starring Anna Maxwell Martin and David Morrissey, was filmed in Bradford, at the Connaught Rooms in Manningham, All Saints CofE Primary School in Little Horton, Salts Mill and Keighley Town Hall. The cast attended a screening at the National Media Museum.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Rachel Shenton and Nicholas Ralph take a break from filmingRachel Shenton and Nicholas Ralph take a break from filming (Image: Sarah Bullock)

* All Creatures Great and Small: In 2020 Alf Wight’s popular James Herriot books returned to the small screen in a new series for Channel 5. The show was a huge hit, in America too, and there have been four series so far. At the heart of the Dales drama are country vet James and his wife, farmer’s daughter Helen, played by Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton.

The show is filmed in Grassington, with children from Bradford theatre school Articulate in the cast. Other locations include Broughton Hall near Skipton.

* Damon and Debbie: Three-part spin-off from Channel 4 soap Brookside, broadcast in 1987, starred Simon O’Brien and Gillian Kearney as teen sweethearts Damon Grant and Debbie McGrath who ran away to York. With both sets of parents, back in Liverpool, opposing the relationship due to the class divide, the drama had a Romeo and Juliet vibe.

Fans were devastated when Damon died, after being stabbed by a gang member. Locations included Undercliffe Cemetery and Bradford’s Hall Ings footbridge, demolished in 2009.