I’ve been a fan of Peaky Blinders since the first series hit BBC 2 back in 2013. Bradford picked up a couple of scenes back then including Undercliffe Cemetery and some short scenes on the canal at Shipley. I remember thinking it would be great to get more scenes made in Bradford in future.
Fast forward through another couple of seasons and the show has become a world wide phenomenon, especially since it screened on Netflix. The series now has cult status and there’s talk of Peaky Blinders themed weddings, a whole fashion craze for peaked caps and long overcoats and even Peaky Blinders gin. Which I have tasted and can vouch for!!
Season 4 which aired in UK in the winter of 2017 was the best season yet in my opinion and a good chunk of it was filmed here in Bradford – the world’s first UNESCO City of Film.
It was on an earlier production (king Charles 111) which was filming in City Hall where I met Miglet Crighton and Michael Campbell, location managers for Peaky Blinders and we got along brilliantly from the word go. Both are professional, likeable and realistic in their approach to what can be a demanding job.
The job of location manager carries a significant amount of responsibility. Sourcing relevant locations which fit the script is one thing. Working out if its possible to bring the whole circus to town (which a high end TV drama does), is something else.
Miglet was already familiar with City Hall from working with me on King Charles 111 and had been intrigued by the Victorian cells in the basement. She arranged for Michael to come and spend the day with me to look at a long list of other potential locations.
Peaky Blinders season 4 begins in December 1925 so I showed Michael some of the best location gems Bradford has to offer which fit the period, including Bradford’s stunning Grade 1 listed, City Hall, the conservation area in Bradford known as ‘Little Germany’, the Midland Hotel, the Bradford Club and other places and spaces. I’m pleased to say Michael was hugely impressed by the heritage locations in the City which in his words ‘just keeps giving.’
The next step was to get the director and the art director up to Bradford to look at the short list, City Hall and Little Germany in particular.
The old warehouse in Little Germany looked like this when I showed Peaky Blinders around……
But by the time it had been given the Peaky Blinders treatment……well – check the transformation out here
So once the Director, Art Director, Director of Photographer and the Producer are happy with the location choices the detailed work of making them fit for filming begins and that’s when the little army are drafted in. All the highly skilled technicians who literally work their magic with a lot of smoke and mirrors (believe me, a lot of smoke in Peaky’s case) are then brought in for the technical recce and negotiations begin between the various teams of creatives and technicians as to what is possible and as importantly what is affordable and in some cases what is legal (health and safety wise).
Here is the crew on one of a number of technical recces to Bradford and of course the all important curry for lunch.