By Evelyn Heis, Film & TV Editor
Living in the unprecedented, post-pandemic times that we are currently living in has brought about a series of short-term and long-term changes that have impacted almost every aspect of our lives. At the beginning of the pandemic, film and television were, no doubt, greatly profiting from the pandemic’s sudden hit. With our lives having been put on hold and the world changing as we knew it, many of us relished in this much-needed break, taking the time to rest, pick up new hobbies, and indulge in the films and programmes that had been sitting in our ‘to watch’ list, practically collecting dust. Lockdown provided us with an excellent opportunity to binge-watch: we had all the time in the world and nowhere to go.
It was around this time that Netflix blessed us with one of the most-watched programmes of the year, Bridgerton (2020-). This raunchy period drama undeniably benefited from our temporary hiatus from reality, with 8.2 million British homes tuning in to watch it within the first three months of its release.
During national lockdowns then, the whole world was consuming twice as much media than ever before, with an estimated 60% of UK homes signing up to streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video by September 2020.
Despite the successes of the shows filmed and produced pre-pandemic, whose viewings sky-rocketed during the lockdown, many of us failed to acknowledge the impact Covid-19 had on the ongoing productions of the Film and Tv industry. Particularly in Bristol, home to The Bottle Yard Studios: the West of England’s largest dedicated production space, the three-month pause in filming caused a dip in its annual revenues.
Figures dropped from £17 million (recorded in 2019) to an estimated £12.6 million (recorded in 2020-21), though according to Bristol’s Senior Film Manager, Laura Aviles, who oversees Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios and Bristol’s Film Office, this was "fully expected".
Today, following the annual figure reports released by Bristol’s Film Office, it has been recorded that Film and Tv production in Bristol has generated an estimated £20.8 million, a 22% increase on the pre-pandemic figures. This year of production (2021-22) sits as the largest contribution that filming-related activity has made to Bristol’s economy in a decade.
Laura Aviles celebrates this incredible achievement, stating that “These figures paint an extremely healthy picture for Bristol’s thriving film and TV sector.”
“The numbers were no surprise to our Film Office and Bottle Yard staff. We knew that production had kicked back into gear quickly after the production pause during the first lockdown in 2020. Since then, our teams have been busier than ever, supporting productions on the ground. The skilled crew, companies and facilities we work alongside all play a vital role in making Bristol one of the most film-friendly cities in the UK.”
As covid-19 restrictions eased, the amount of filming that took place in Bristol increased by 10%, with 1,067 filming days being carried out at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios and in various locations dotted around the city this year.
One of the biggest productions filmed in the city in 2021-22 was the successful ITV period drama, Sanditon (2019-), whose film sets are built and kept in Bristol, which has recently been commissioned for a third season, featuring scenes filmed at Bristol’s Georgian House.
Other titles assisted by Bristol’s Film Office include Doctor’s Who’s (1963-) 60th Anniversary special episode, “The Power of the Doctor”, set in the city centre’s Clare Street, where David Tenant was seen filming at this June; as well as Peter Kosminsky’s Channel 4 thriller series The Undeclared War (2022-) which built large scale anti-capitalist sets on Redcliffe Wharf.
Although these up-and-coming shows are responsible for providing Bristol’s film scene with the recognition it deserves, it would be a disservice not to mention the already established shows that are responsible for bringing Bristol so much of its revenue this year. Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws (2021-), Ben Richards’ thriller short series Showtrial (2021-), and BBC & HBO Max’s The Girl Before (2021-) have contributed a total revenue that is a £3.8 million (22%) increase from the previous full 12-month total in 2019-20.
It is extremely heartening to see the world slowly return back to normal after such difficult and uncertain times, but it is even more uplifting to see the industry that helped us get through these challenging times finally recover and do so well.
With this year’s Film and TV bringing about the largest economic contribution in the last decade, why not celebrate by tuning into one of the promising programmes that are filmed, produced, and set in Bristol?
Featured Image: BBC York Tillyer
What are some of your favourite films and series filmed in Bristol?