Bristol’s starring role in UK film and TV industry brings in £17m for city’s coffers

October 16, 2020
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Film and TV production in Bristol contributed £17m towards the city’s economy in the 2019-20 financial year – up £1m on the previous 12 months, new figures show.

Bristol Film Office recorded a total of 957 filming days in locations in and around the city or at The Bottle Yard Studios, despite the looming coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown interrupting the final weeks of the period. 

The Film Office also said the city had bounced back quickly, acting as the location of choice for some of the first high-end TV productions to resume filming in the UK.

These included Pursuit of Love and season two of War of the Worlds, which were up and running again by late July/early August.

Confidence is high for the remainder of this financial year as filming and location inquiries continue to come on a daily basis, the film office said.

Just under 700 jobs were also estimated to have been generated over the past year by productions and businesses operating at The Bottle Yard, the Bristol City Council-owned TV and film production facility in Hengrove.

Some 252 productions were issued with permits to film in the city in the financial year April 2019 – March 2020, among them Season 2 of STARZ period drama The Spanish Princess, which started last week, and Lena Dunham’s banking drama Industry, which begins on BBC One and HBO next month.

During the year Bristol also served as the location for a number of other high-profile TV dramas due to reach UK screens soon.

em>His Dark Materials returned to shoot scenes at Blaise Orangery for its second series, which will launch on BBC One and HBO next month, while A Discovery of Witches (Sky One) also returned to film scenes in Berkeley Square for season two, due to air next January. 

Upcoming Netflix sci fi series The One filmed at numerous locations around the city, and the highly anticipated Doctor Who festive extended special Revolution of the Daleks, which is set to air over the Christmas/New year period, was filmed partly on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Meanwhile Nickelodeon headed to The Bottle Yard to produce its US family version of The Crystal Maze, hosted by comedian Adam Conover, while ITV’s Tipping Point and Tipping Point Lucky Stars, hosted by Ben Shephard, continued to film at the studios.

More CGI magic for young audiences was crafted on The Bottle Yard’s green screen by Andy Day and the BBC Natural History Unit, who filmed Andy’s Aquatic Adventures (CBeebies), the latest instalment in the successful Andy’s Adventures strand.

Senior Bristol Film manager Laura Aviles said the figures showed the excellent shape of Bristol’s film and TV production industry last year.

“It’s inevitable that the 2020-21 figures will read rather differently; the pause in filming caused by lockdown in March will have had an impact on this sector like every other,” she added.

“I’m pleased to say though that our recovery has been relatively fast. That’s very much down to the speed at which local crew and companies have adapted to new safety measures and the resourcefulness of the Studios and Film Office teams.

“With new filming inquiries coming in every day, we’re confident that Bristol will be very busy for the rest of this year and into 2021.” 

Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for finance, governance and performance Cllr Craig Cheney added: “Bristol’s strength as a city with a thriving creative sector and collaborative spirit is well known and our culture of talent and innovation continues to continually attract new investment and projects as well as helping to secure jobs.

“This year is likely to prove more challenging as film and television partners deal with the implications of Covid-19, the lockdown and further restrictions.

“The arts and culture sector and those who work within it have been hit hard and we support those calls for more central government support to be made available for this area.

“However, we remain confident that the expertise and commitment shown by our Film Office and Studio teams will ensure that Bristol remains a magnet for important productions as the industry as a whole sets out on the road to recovery.’’

Other titles filmed in Bristol last year that have already aired include BBC One’s Agatha Christie thriller The Pale Horse starring Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario, ITV detective drama McDonald & Dodds starring Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia – which is currently back in the city filming series two – and BBC One’s The Salisbury Poisonings, a retelling of the true events of the 2018 Novichok poisonings starring Anne Marie Duff, which used Bristol streets to recreate key Salisbury locations.

Meanwhile popular BBC Two series A House Through Time saw Bristol-based historian David Olusoga explore the history of 10 Guinea Street in Redcliffe, working with Bristol Archives, while Channel 4’s Hunted fugitives were released at Bristol’s A Bond Tobacco warehouse on Cumberland Road.

Pictured, from top: Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario on The Pale Horse set at The Bottle Yard Studios (© BBC/Mammoth Screen/Agatha Christie Ltd), The Spanish Princess – season 2 (image courtesy STARZ), and Industry (image courtesy BBC HBO)

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