Comment: Cumbria becoming nation's TV capital

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

CUMBRIA likes to promote itself these days as the UK’s Adventure Capital - an aspiration that is not without justification bearing in mind the numerous opportunities the landscape offers to people keen to walk, climb, sail or cycle.

However, the county could soon have another claim to fame as Britain’s premier location for film and TV companies.

Stories that have a strong link to Cumbria - such as Miss Potter and Swallows and Amazons - are always likely to be shot on location in the county.

But with the decision to film the period Daphne du Maurier drama in Kirkby Lonsdale, the creative boundaries appear to have become somewhat blurred.

If the BBC wanted to remain faithful to the original setting for Jamaica Inn it would have filmed it entirely in Cornwall.

As it is, modern-day Launceston, the Cornish town where part of the story is set, is apparently too modern so that’s why Kirkby Lonsdale, which has retained much of its traditional architecture, was chosen instead.

Undoubtedly, the Lunesdale residents will welcome the buzz that the filming of such a high-profile TV drama will bring.

And the town’s businesses will probably be more than adequately compensated for any disruption casued to their trade while the filming takes place.

But the greatest dividends are likely to come after the programme is screened, as the tourism benefits kick in.

This is what happened with Miss Potter, when an increasing number of Japanese visitors began to book holidays in the Lake District, all of them keen to check out the film’s locations that were actually connected with Beatrix Potter.

But film tourism is not a new phenomenon in the Lake District.

The cult movie Withnail and I was set in West Sleddale near Shap and devotees still visit the remote spot as a sort of prilgrimage.

On that basis, perhaps the Langdale Chase Hotel near Windermere should also have been a cult draw because Alfred Hitchcock used the hotel for his film The Paradise Case.

So while the Lake District’s beautiful landscape should ensure it continues to have a healthy tourism industry, it is also good news that a little touch of cinematic sparkle is likely to widen its appeal still further.

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