BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014
Bradford and West YorkshireBradford and West Yorkshire

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Bradford

North Yorkshire
South Yorkshire

Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

Local films for local people
Commemoration plaque for the film Billy Liar which was filmed in Bradford
A memorial not only to Bradford's cinema history but to the Swinging Sixties
They were making films in Holmfirth long before there was a Hollywood, movies were being shown in Bradford from the very beginning and the film and television crews are still coming. We go in search of locations, past and present, in West Yorkshire.

BBC Films

BBC Drama

National Museum of Photography, Film and Television

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
View a printable version of this page.
get in contact

In Bradford ...

In the very early years Bradford was certainly the cinematic capital of Yorkshire (the Riley Brothers made films in Bradford and also had branches in New York and Boston) but it was a film made in 1963 that really put the city on the movie-making map.

Billy Liar, one of the greatest British films of the 1960s, was shot entirely on location in Bradford. Tom Courtenay plays Billy, the undertaker's clerk, a compulsive liar who spends his days fantasising. The location of Billy's office can still be found in Southgate - look out for the plaque unveiled by the film¹s director John Schlesinger in 1996. Undercliffe Cemetery and Bradford's War and Queen Victoria Memorials are amongst the city centre locations also used in the film.

Steps in Bradford featured in Billy Liar
These steps just off Southgate were used by Billy (Tom Courtenay) and his mate (Rodney Bewes) in the film

Bradford also stars in Room At The Top. Now seen as one of the first of the British 'kitchen sink' dramas, back in 1959, when it was released, the film was billed as a "savage story of lust and ambition." Laurence Harvey stars as 'angry young man,' Joe Lampton, the ambitious young accountant who gets involved with the boss's daughter as well as an older, married woman, with tragic consequences. Simone Signoret won as Oscar for her performance as Lampton's lover. Some of the most pivotal scenes in the film take place in the Boy and Barrell pub in James Gate but Ivegate, Kirkgate and Westgate also feature. The film was based on the novel by Bingley librarian John Braine.

Tom Courtenay was back in Bradford in 1986, this time with Albert Finney, to play the title role in The Dresser. Finney is an old-style actor manager who has brought his touring company of players to a provincial theatre. The Alhambra provided a splendid location.

In recent years Bradford's screen image has often been far from glamorous. Writer Andrea Dunbar grew up in Buttershaw and the adaptation of her play, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, about two schoolgirls who have a fling with a married man, is set there. Band of Gold, a television drama series about prostitution, was set around Lumb Lane in Manningham.

Such was the fame of the Bronte sisters that it was only natural that, from the beginning, attempts would be made to film their novels but although they may have lived in Haworth, few of their books have been filmed in the area. It is unlikely that Laurence Olivier went much beyond a Holywood lot when he played Heathcliff in what is still the most celebrated celluloid version of Wuthering Heights, released in 1939. The Haworth moors were recreated at great expense amongst Californian hills. However, a later version starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes, did use East Riddlesden Hall, just outside Keighley, as a location.

Steam train
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway continues to help movie makers bring the past to life

It was, of course, the 1970 film The Railway Children that ensured that movie makers would keep on coming back to Keighley. Even today, when you take a ride on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, you may find yourself looking out of the window wondering if a young Jenny Agutter will run alongside the train, waving. The railway was used again, to very different effect, by Pink Floyd and director Alan Parker in the 1982 film, The Wall, derived from the album of the same name. Born and Bred, starring James Bolam, has been one of the most recent television productions to use the railway, even though the series is set in Lancashire.

Blow Dry, scripted by Simon Beaufoy, who also wrote The Full Monty, sets out to tell the story of a Keighley hairdresser, played by Alan Rickman, but the film-makers preferred to use locations in Dewsbury and Batley.

And then, of course, there's Emmerdale, the country¹s second-longest running television soap opera. Over the years many day-trippers have poured into the village of Esholt hoping to recognise the odd cottage, and character, or have a drink in the Woolpack. These days the series is made elsewhere on a closed set.



Top | Films Index | Home
Also in this section
win win win! lifestyle student guide
Contact Us
BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire
National Museum of Photography,
Film and Television,
(+44) 01274 841051

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy