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Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot swops boxing for ballet

Billy Elliot

In a nutshell … Billy Elliot is a coming of age story about a teenager who wants to become a ballet dancer. Starring Julie Walters and Jamie Bell, it is a powerful story of the triumph of a young boy's dreams in the face of adversity.

Billy Elliot fact file

Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell comes from Billingham in Teesside

Billy Elliot is written by Lee Hall who also wrote Gabriel and Me

Director Stephen Daldry made his name in the theatre

The film's star Jamie Bell began dancing at the age of six in his home town of Billingham

Jamie Bell was picked for the role of Billy after a search of over 2,000 children

Over 400 local people appeared as extras

Billy Elliot is a story of one boy's hopes and dreams set against the backdrop of the miners' strike.

Billy is a teenage boy who lives in a harsh North East mining community.

Billy Elliot
Jamie Bell makes his debut

When his family find out that he's been skipping boxing for ballet lessons, Billy (Jamie Bell) has to prove that he's got what it takes to follow his dreams.

Billy embarks on a journey of self discovery amidst a world of picket lines and riot police.

Kicking against family disapproval and deeply rooted stereotypes, Billy struggles to break free.

With the help of his ballet teacher (Julie Walters), Billy gets an audition for the Royal Ballet School but will his working class origins hold him back?

On Location

"We didn't realise how hard it would be to find working pits. We had to go all the way to Lynemouth and Ellington to look for them."
Producer Jon Finch

Billy Elliot was shot in entirety in the North East using a variety of industrial locations.

Most of the film was shot on location in Easington Village where the terraced streets doubled as a mining community at the time of the miners' strike.

The pit village is shot in a very claustrophobic way to reflect the tight knit community.

The mining sequences were shot at Ellington and Lynemouth Mine in Northumberland.

Other locations included Dawdon Miner's Institute and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Recreating the miner's strike

Easington's streets were dressed in the style of 1984 at the time of the miners' strike for the film.

Billy Elliot dances through Easington
Billy Elliot dances through Easington

The Lynemouth and Ellington pit which appears in the film was the only remaining mine in the North East.

Billy Elliot was written by Geordie script writer Lee Hall.

Geordie writer Lee Hall was interested in writing about the 1984 miners' strike which he sees as one of the defining moments in British history.

The strike left me with a sense of indignation which has fuelled much of my work" he says.

It's a coming of age story about someone who finds beauty and reason in his life. It is funny and coarse but should also make you cry.

He says that the film's message is that "creative people are left dormant because we, as a society, have no idea or ambition how to tap into them".

Actress Julie Walters identifies with how people felt during the miners' strike.

"It's hard enough for a working class child to say that they want to e a ballet dancer".

"But set against the dreadful situation of the mines closing - where there was nothing for people but the drugs, unemployment, the poverty - it's even more challenging".

last updated: 17/10/06
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