Film crews and Hollywood stars have become almost a common site in Bolton in recent years.

In some quarters the town has come to be regarded as the Hollywood of the North. In the first of a three part special report, we look at how much money productions like these are expected to make for the borough.

Bolton is slated to host over 80 days of filming this year, making nearly £2M for the economy, burnishing its 'Hollywood of the North' reputation.

Over the last year, stars of film and television have become almost commonplace around Bolton as crews from productions ranging from prime time detective drama Ridley to BBC comedy Alma’s Not Normal came to the town.

As of March this year, Bolton made £975,250 from filming since 2019, which still came to a total of £746,053 after costs.

Bolton Council says that it is now on schedule to host film crews for more than 85 days across this year, more than double the days spent filming over last year, with crews estimated to spend more than £20,000 in the borough each day.

Cabinet member for culture Cllr Nadeem Ayub said: “Filming is an essential part of our cultural programme here in Bolton, we have some fantastic buildings in the town centre and the surrounding area.

The Bolton News: Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker in town filming Netflix's Toxic TownDoctor Who star Jodie Whittaker in town filming Netflix's Toxic Town (Image: Newsquest)

“It ensures there are people coming into the town centre whether part of film crews or visiting, and they are then spending money on restaurants, bars, cafes and so on which is good for our economy.”

He added: “And of course it brings celebrities to the town which helps to put is on the national and international stage.”

These celebrities have included Hollywood star Ewan McGregor, who arrived in Bolton to film Paramount+ drama A Gentleman in Moscow, while Adrian Dunbar, better known as Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings, was in town filming the second series of ITV detective drama Ridley earlier this year as well.

The Bolton News: A Gentleman in Moscow film crews in the townA Gentleman in Moscow film crews in the town (Image: Newsquest)

The town is currently playing host to Bolton born Sophie Willan, star of hit comedy Alma’s Not Normal, who is in and around the town centre.

A recent Bolton Council meeting heard how a total of 88 filming days had been projected for 2023 for the various film and television projects seen around the borough.

This was more than twice the 42 filming days that took place over 2022, while according to estimates by Creative England around £21,600 are spent by crews on the local economy for every day of filming.

The Bolton News: Le Mans Crescent has proven a popular site for film crewsLe Mans Crescent has proven a popular site for film crews (Image: Newsquest)

If the 88 projected days comes to pass, then this means a total of £1,900,800 will have been spent in Bolton by film crews over the course of this year.

But this can fluctuate given the size of productions and how long they spend filming.

Council leaders hope to build on this and continue to host filming days into the future by attracting further film crews into the borough.

Cllr Ayub said: “We’ve had some really big filming projects taking place in Bolton and if we can grow it as much as we can then that will really help make us on the world stage.”

He added: “The future of filming in Bolton will hopefully go hand in hand with events like the film festival, which proved to be a great success, and then we’ll start to see more local talent on our screens as well.”

The Bolton News: Film crews and stars have become a common site around Bolton town centreFilm crews and stars have become a common site around Bolton town centre (Image: Newsquest)

Filming, the money it makes and the way it raises the borough’s profile were all discussed at corporate scrutiny meeting held on Monday October 23.

The meeting heard how productions over the course of 2023 have included controversial Jimmy Saville drama The Reckoning, BBC series Tell Me A Secret, Kidnapped, also by the BBC, ITV’s Sleepover, Netflix’s Toxic Town and ITV soap Coronation Street.

Popular locations have proven to be the former magistrates court at Le Mans Crescent, Crompton Place and the area around Victoria Square, while a programme of work was underway to help identify potential units for the future.

The committee members heard a quote from BBC Red’s location manager on Years and Years James Muirhead, who had been one of many film professionals to have visited the town in recent years.

He said: “Bolton offers the production both period and contemporary.

“Having spent the day in the town we managed to achieve period London to high end futuristic offices.

“All sorted by the excellent team at the council.

“It’s a safe pair of hands from a location managers point of view.”

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Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Sean Fielding, of Breightmet, said that he knew from personal experience how valuable Bolton’s new found status as a destination for film crews could be both for the town’s prestige and economy.

He said: “It’s a really impressive list of productions that have been filmed in Bolton and its growing every year it seems.”

He added: “I have a family connection where my girlfriend’s uncle is the joiner for Netflix so he builds many of the sets and he works in Bolton quite regularly.

“And when we told him that we were moving here he had more of the recommendations for places to go in Bolton than some people who have lived here a long time because he spends so much money here when he’s working.”