The Full Monty turns 20: How hit film was nearly shot in Blackburn

The Full Monty (pic:AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Tom Hilton, HO)
The Full Monty (pic:AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Tom Hilton, HO)
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The Full Monty could have been a very different film had the producers plumped for Bradford or Blackburn instead.

Sheffield's landscape, with its mix of industrial architecture and rolling countryside, is often acknowledged as one of the stars of the hit comedy - but the city nearly lost out to rival locations in the north.

Yardie, directed by Idris Elba and starring Aml Ameen, is one of Warp Film's latest projects (pic: Warp Films)

Yardie, directed by Idris Elba and starring Aml Ameen, is one of Warp Film's latest projects (pic: Warp Films)

Mark Herbert, joint chief executive of Sheffield-based production company Warp Films, was at the time working for the Yorkshire Screen Commission - the forerunner of Screen Yorkshire.

He helped persuade director Peter Cattaneo and producer Uberto Pasolini to choose Sheffield over alternatives including Bradford and Blackburn.

"We took them around Sheffield and tried to get them to film here. We were quite involved with the location manager Robert How," he said.

Warp Films, which is based in Sheffield but also has a London office, has helped make award-winning films and TV programmes including This is England, Four Lions and Submarine.

This is England '90 is among the Warp Films projects to have been shot in Sheffield (pic: Warp Films)

This is England '90 is among the Warp Films projects to have been shot in Sheffield (pic: Warp Films)

Its latest projects include The Virtues, a new drama directed by Shane Meadows, which is currently filming in Sheffield city centre; plus Yardie, a feature film by The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba; and a screen adaptation of the hit comedy-horror play Ghost Stories.

Mark credits The Full Monty with giving gifted filmmakers the confidence to remain in the north, stemming what he describes as the 'talent exodus' to London.

He also believes it made it easier than before to tell tales set outside London.

"When I was a freelancer before Warp, I used to need a base in London because half of my work was down south," he says.

"The Full Monty helped give people the confidence that another writer like Simon Beaufoy or another story like that set in the north would come along and they could get work here.

"There always has been and always will be a talent exodus from the north to the south, with people who do really well in music and film here tending to migrate.

"But the more successes there are here, the more confident people are to base themselves here and stay here.

As a location, he says Sheffield offers you a lot for your money, with its mix of industrial settings and amazing countryside, but it is the glut of creative talent in Sheffield and surrounding cities which make it an even more attractive proposition for film and TV makers.

The key to building the north's reputation for film and TV, he claims, is ensuring cities across the region work together.

"The stronger the connection is between the northern cities the better, I believe. I think we should be working together, not competing with one another," he says.