Hull is turning into ‘Hullywood’ once again as Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen becomes the latest moviemaker to film in the city, boosting its set-jetting credentials.
Fresh from starring roles in smash-hit Netflix productions, The Crown and Enola Holmes 2, as well as cinema hit The Extraordinary Life of David Copperfield, Hull is back in the spotlight.
The biggest production yet comes courtesy of streaming giant Apple TV+, and its new movie Blitz, from British writer and director McQueen, who is perhaps best known for winning an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for his film 12 Years a Slave.
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson, Erin Kellyman and Stephen Graham, the film tells the story of how Londoners survived the German bombing campaign in World War Two. Red buses, vintage lampposts and shops given a make-over will become 1940s London for the wartime drama movie, which is likely to air sometime in 2024.
Hull also has a close connection to the movie’s theme. As a key port within easy flying distance from occupied Europe, Hull became the second most bombed city in England, with 90 per cent of its buildings being damaged.
Filming took place at locations across the city, including Hull Old Town, Hepworth Arcade and Walton Street fairground – using more than 750 extras – and is yet another sign of Hull’s growing role as a favourite TV and movie location.
Thanks to the labyrinth of cobbled streets and historic townhouses of the Old Town, the city is a top spot for filmmakers wanting to recreate street scenes from Victorian London – used for ITV drama Victoria, with Jenna Coleman – as well as for Georgian-era thriller The Confessions of Frannie Langton, showing on ITVX, ITV’s new, free streaming service.
This latest production comes hot on the heels of Superman actor Henry Cavill and award-winning actress Millie Bobby Brown filming in Hull in 2021 for Enola Holmes 2, which made its eagerly anticipated appearance on Netflix last November.
Back in 2018, it was Peter Capaldi and Dev Patel who were in the city as director Armando Iannucci filmed scenes for his star-studded comedy drama The Personal History of David Copperfield, which hit cinemas in 2020.
The Old Town – which still retains its medieval footprint with a surviving street plan around the original port area on the River Hull – doubled for Dickensian London, with producers impressed with the mix of civic buildings, cobbled streets and architecture.
Now Hull City Council is capitalising on these successful productions by developing a TV and Film Prospectus and marketing plan, aiming to become a full-service provider and making it even more attractive to filmmakers.
The council’s partnership with Screen Yorkshire has already helped showcase the city to national and international location managers and producers, and Hull hopes that the new Prospectus will further strengthen its appeal to TV and movie producers.
Along with shining a spotlight on Hull, attracting large-scale productions also brings a financial boost, pumping upwards of £250,000 into the city thanks to crews filling hotel spaces and using leisure and hospitality venues.
For those wanting to follow in the footsteps of movie and TV stars, Hull tour guide Paul Schofield runs bookable guided walking tours of the city, including around the historic streets of Old Town (www.tourhull.com)
For tourism information about visiting, and staying in, Hull, see www.visithull.org
Check out our photo feature on some of Hull’s set jetting hot spots here