A POPULAR TV drama series which is giving Northumberland's vital tourism industry a national showcase has had a special screening in one of the county's most historic towns.
The first series of flagship ITV murder mystery Vera – based on the work of best-selling North East author Ann Cleeves and starring award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn – was filmed at a number of locations in Northumberland, including North Blyth, Druridge Bay, Low Hauxley and Embleton.
Now an episode of the forthcoming second series has been premiered at a special screening in Hexham’s Queen’s Hall to an invited audience of tourism, media industry and local council representatives.
Much of Silent Voices, which is based on a novel by Whitley Bay writer Cleeves, was filmed on location in Northumberland.
Guests at the private screening were given an insight into the creative and commercial background of Vera and were given first sight of the second series, which was shot at Northumberland locations including Toddlemoor, Linhope Spout, Corbridge and Thrum Rock. The first series of the detective drama attracted viewing figures of up to 6.6m and provided a major showcase for the region, and it is hoped the second series will continue the trend.
Northumberland County Council has worked closely with Northern Film and Media to set up locations and arrange access to roads and buildings for the drama, which also stars Northumberland-born David Leon.
It is estimated that the first series generated advertising value of £90m for the region, and brought massive national publicity.
Northern Film and Media invested £30,000 to bring Vera to the North East, and the series receives ongoing support from its production service.
The Hexham premiere of Silent Voices was organised in partnership with the Royal Television Society and ITV, and included an audience question and answer session with Vera creator Ann Cleeves.
Yesterday, Neil Bradbury, county council executive member for culture and tourism, said: “Filming in the area, whether for a TV commercial or a Hollywood blockbuster, brings with it the type of publicity that no amount of money can buy. There are great spin-offs throughout the local tourism industry and the economy, as history has proved.
“When the first series of Vera hit the nation’s screens, it attracted viewing figures in the region of 6.6 million, which is a fantastic showcase for Northumberland.”
Tom Harvey, chief executive of Northern Film and Media, said: “Our initial investment in, and ongoing support of, Vera has boosted the North East’s drama infrastructure with a distinctive, returnable series that benefits the economy, creates jobs and presents our region to potential visitors across the globe.
“Dramas filmed here in the past 18 months have attracted combined viewing figures of 76 million in the UK alone, and we expect the forthcoming series of Vera to grow the show’s already impressive viewing figures.”