Annual figures released by Bristol Film Office show film and TV production in the city in 2019-20 added £17 million towards Bristol’s economy.

Season 2 of STARZ period drama The Spanish Princess, which began on 11 October on STARZ and the STARZPLAY app, and Lena Dunham’s banking drama Industry, which begins on BBC One and HBO next month, were just two of 252 productions issued with permits to film in the city in the financial year April 2019 – March 2020.

Bristol Film Office recorded a total of 957 filming days at Bristol locations and/or at The Bottle Yard Studios, representing a value of £17,057,000 to the city’s economy, up £1million on the 2018-19 total of £16mllion.

Annual inward investment figures are calculated using national average production spend figures compiled by Creative England with contribution from all national Film Offices’ data. A total of 699 jobs were also estimated to have been generated by productions and businesses operating at The Bottle Yard Studios.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “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.’’

Senior Bristol Film Manager Laura Aviles says: “These figures show what excellent shape Bristol’s film & TV production was in last year, with £17million generated by productions using our studios, locations and freelance crew. 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. I’m pleased to say though that our recovery has been relatively fast, in fact Bristol has been the location of choice for some of the first high end TV productions to resume filming in the UK, such as Pursuit of Love and season two of War of the Worlds, which were up and running again by late July/early August. 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 enquiries coming in every day, we’re confident that Bristol will be very busy for the rest of this year and into 2021.”

In addition to The Spanish Princess and Industry, Bristol played host to TV dramas including His Dark Materials which returned to shoot scenes at Blaise Orangery for its second series which will launch on BBC One and HBO in November, whilst A Discovery of Witches (Sky One) also returned to film scenes in Berkeley Square for season two, due to air in January 2021. Upcoming Netflix sci fi series The One filmed at numerous locations around the city, and the Doctor Who festive extended special, Revolution of the Daleks, which is set to air over the Christmas/New year period, filmed partly on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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 (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.

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

Meanwhile Nickelodeon headed to The Bottle Yard to produce their US family version of The Crystal Maze hosted by comedian Adam Conover, whilst ITV’s Tipping Point and Tipping Point Lucky Stars, hosted by Ben Shephard, continued to film at the Studios. The BBC Natural History Unit filmed Andy’s Aquatic Adventures (CBeebies), the latest instalment in the  Andy’s Adventures strand.

Jon Creamer

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