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24 September 2014
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Local films for local people
A scene from Our Day Out
A scene from A Day Out, 1972, written by Alan Bennett and filmed around the Calder Valley
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.

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In Calderdale...

Calderdale would now seem to be THE popular place to make films. Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags was recently transformed into the grim Dotheboys Hall for a big-screen version of the Dickens classic, Nicholas Nickleby. Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, Juliet Stevenson and Jamie 'Billy Eliot' Bell are amongst the actors involved in the project.

The best-known film of recent years to feature Halifax was very definitely set in South Yorkshire - in Brassed Off the Grimley Colliery Brass Band, with a little help from members of the real-life Grimethorpe Band, travel to Halifax's Piece Hall to take part in the regional heats of the national brass band competition. Star Tara Fitzgerald certainly did not hide her feelings about Grimethorpe but we have no idea what she thought of Halifax.The Piece Hall has featured in many other films over the years including The Dresser and Room At The Top.

Charlotte Coleman as Jess in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Charlotte Coleman as Jess in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

The 1979 film Yanks, starring Richard Gere (below) and Vanessa Redgrave filmed at Southowram Bank and the 1991 version of Wuthering Heights also used Shibden Hall as a location.

Todmorden has featured in many television productions, including the long-running cop series Juliet Bravo and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, the drama series based on the award-winning novel by Jeanette Winterson telling the story of a young girl raised ina repressive Pentecostal home by an over-powering mother. When Jess, the girl, leaves the fire and brimstone of home at the age of 16 she falls in love with a young woman. The part of Jess was played by the actress Charlotte Coleman (below) who died suddenly in 2001.

Television crews have also been in Todmorden to film a new series of The League Of Gentlemen.

One of the most memorable of the dramas filmed for the small screen ove the years is A Day Out, made in 1972 and written by Yorkshire's very own Alan Bennett. It features a group of cyclists (top) who in 1911 leave the soot and smoke of Halifax behind them to go for a day's bike ride in the country. One of the cylists finds it difficult to keep up because of a disability. At the end of the film this cyclist visits a war memorial inscibed with the names of his fellow cyclists.

Due to be screened on BBC1 in the autumn is a major new drama series, filmed around Hebden Bridge and set in present day Yorkshire, but based on Emile Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Sparkhouse is written by Sally Wainwright of At Home with the Braithwaites fame and stars Sarah Smart, Joe McFadden, Alun Armstrong, Celia Imrie and Nicholas Farell. This, however, is the classic tale with a twist - the roles of Cathy and Heathcliff are reversed.



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