Peaky Blinders to Coronation Street – city’s film and TV heritage celebrated in new book

A COLLECTION of poems inspired by filming in the district is being released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bradford’s City of Film status.

Reel Bradford, a poetic tribute to Bradford City of Film and the district’s “vital contribution to cinematic and TV history”, includes poems by Mike Farren, Joanna Sedgwick, Lorna Faye Dunsire, Gill Lambert and Mark Connors, the team behind local publishers, YAFFLE.

Produced by YAFFLE in conjunction with Bradford City of Film and Bradford Libraries, the book was showcased on a recent walking tour of film locations. It will be launched at Bradford Library, Centenary Square, on Friday, August 16 at 6.30pm.

“It started off with our work with Bradford Libraries for International Poetry Day,” said Bradford City of Film director David Wilson. “We filmed some poets reciting their work, and other poems, and it felt like we’d uncovered a hidden gem of creatives in Bradford. I invited some of them to one of our film heritage tours, so they could respond to locations, and we thought maybe one of two poems would come from that. They came up with a book of about 50.

“I was moved by some of the poetry, which pays tribute to the city’s film heritage. Most of these poets have grown up in Bradford but once they looked at our film heritage app they were surprised at all the productions filmed here.

“This book is a lovely thing to celebrate our 10th anniversary as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film.”

The walking tour featured readings at the National Science and Media Museum and City Hall, where films such as Room at the Top and Billy Liar and TV dramas Peaky Blinders and Victoria were filmed. A poem called In Defence of Soaps by Gill Lambert was read in City Hall’s Victorian courtroom, the setting for dramatic scenes in Coronation Street and Emmerdale, and If These Cell Walls could talk by Mark Connors, was read in the cells, inspired by Peaky Blinders and prisoners’ graffiti on the walls:

“The BBC crew had their own ideas, early 20th century colours, scenes where four of the Shelbys would be held at his majesty’s pleasure, before each of them would face their noose…Under layer after layer of this paint, a feast of social histories: Dave Bennett, Girlington, ’81. I got 12 months. Got out in 6! Result!…To the left, barely visible in pencil, another inmate penned his first poem: I think of you at lights out, that smile you flashed a thousand times, some joke I cracked in a pub off Manchester Road, your 21st, when all we had was hope….These walls have told a thousand tales.”

In The Greatest Movie, a tribute to Bradford’s film history, Mike Farren writes: “The world knows nothing happens here…We’ve always been poor, the butt of everybody’s jokes…If we made outrageous claims, like being the first town to show the Lumière brothers outside London, you’d laugh at us and call us ‘Billy liar’! We are not Hollywood, we’re just ourselves – the greatest movie waiting to be made.”

Original Telegraph and Argus article available HERE