The screen industry in Yorkshire: famous productions based in Leeds
By Elise Czyzowska
11 May 2022
Back in 2018, Channel 4 announced that they would be moving their production headquarters to Leeds. Since then, many more productions have followed suit, a clear sign that the city is quickly growing into the newest UK base for the film and entertainment industry.
In fact, BBC Research in 2021 found that the region appeared in ‘more programmes on the UK’s five main channels than anywhere else in the UK’! If you’re dreaming of a career in the film and screen industries, this is great news, because where the industry moves, fresh opportunities arrive with it.
Already in 2022, Disney have been seen shooting a new Marvel show in the city (believed to be Secret Invasion, starring Samuel L. Jackson), and throughout the coming year, Yorkshire will play home to productions including Indiana Jones 5 and Mission Impossible 7.
In today’s blog, we’re sharing some of our favourite productions based in Leeds, both past and present – how many did you already know about?
The beloved BBC One drama starring Suranne Jones was spotted in August 2021 filming their second season across Leeds and the wider Yorkshire area. The crew transformed Park Square in the City Centre into a 19th-century street, horse-drawn carriages and all, as well as returning to shoot at Harewood House, a nearby country estate.
The latest season of Gentleman Jack has just started, and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now – but before you rush to catch up, why not read our blog with the show’s creator, Sally Wainwright, where she shared her top writing tips.
As the number of show-related tours will attest, Peaky Blinders is mainly shot in the city of Manchester. However, the BAFTA-winning cast and crew have been known to travel up to Leeds for a scene or two!
From repurposing Leeds Town Hall as an art gallery, to highlighting Leeds City Varieties (where both Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini once performed), Peaky Blinders also worked out of Studio 81 on Kirkstall Road – a stone’s throw from where MetFilm School Leeds is based at Prime Studios.
Leeds Heritage Theatre wrote this piece detailing all the scenes in which Leeds City Varieties appears in the show, where it was reimagined as ‘The Penny Crush Picture House’.
God’s Own Country
If the title of this film sounds familiar, it’s because it doubles as a description of the beautiful landscape of Yorkshire, where the film’s director, Francis Lee, was born. Starring Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu, production took place across Yorkshire, from Bradford and Keighley to, of course, Leeds. Not only this, but MetFilm served as an Executive Producer on the film, as well as a Post Production partner. BA Practical Filmmaking graduate Jon Olav Stokke worked as an online editor for the film, as well as three further MetFilm School staff members, who were also involved in the post production process.
Speaking about his inspiration for the film, Francis Lee highlighted the beautiful Yorkshire landscape:
‘Growing up here, I always had this kind of notion that the landscape was important to me. It felt as if it formed who I was, both physically and emotionally. [So] my starting point, when I started to think about doing a film, was exploring this landscape that I felt to be totally a part of me.’
Back in 2020, Dame Helen Mirren shared a photo in front of a ‘lovely old cinema otherwise known as a picture house’. The Leeds community will immediately recognise the location as Hyde Park Picture House, a historic cinema which is the only remaining gaslit cinema in the United Kingdom. Helen Mirren was in Leeds filming The Duke, and you can see locations around the city including Millennium Square, Holbeck Cemetery, and Whitelocks Pub in the film!
The Duke is not the only time that cinematic royalty has visited Leeds. Harewood House, just a twenty minute drive from the city, has been featured in both Downton Abbey and BBC’s Victoria. And for the sports fans: in 2010, Colin Firth, in his Oscar-winning performance for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, visited Elland Road Stadium, home to Leeds United and the site of Hooper’s previous film, The Damned United.
All Creatures Great and Small
The Channel 5 reboot of All Creatures Great and Small (which originally aired during the 1970-80s) is filmed a short train ride from Leeds, amongst the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. The show takes its plot from Yorkshire veterinarian Alf Wight’s book series of the same name, and follows three veterinary surgeons working in the Dales during the 1930s.
‘Filming in stunningly beautiful landscapes and working with such friendly, welcoming people across the Yorkshire Dales was an absolute joy,’ said Gary Barnes, Location Manager for the show, which uses Grassington, a nearby town an hour’s drive from Leeds, as its’ central location – Darrowby village.
With the newest MetFilm School campus located in Prime Studios, we’re no strangers to the fact that Emmerdale is shot right next door – in fact, next time you’re on campus, see if you can spot the exterior of the village police station!
The three-time winner of ‘Best Soap’ at the British Academy Television Awards has been based in Leeds since 1972, and even offers a unique way to experience the city through the Emmerdale Village Tour, which takes you around the best sights featured in the show.