A film director says a new TV detective drama set in York could bring in £75m to the local economy by tempting more international visitors to the city.
Dave Thorp, who works for Yorkshire-based Visualize Films, is behind The Duke of York Mysteries, which is inspired by classic English crime dramas such as the Agatha Christie adaptations, Midsomer Murders and Jonathan Creek.
The series follows the adventures of Sebastian Duke – an English gentleman in the vein of Roger Moore – as he and his companions solve mysteries around the city, with York’s architecture and history centre stage.
“York is the star of the show,” Dave said. “Vikings, Romans, chocolate factories, railways, Guy Fawkes, ghosts and the supernatural. All the things that make York so fascinating, wonderful and unique are are featured.”
Filming which began before the pandemic is now unusable for continuity reasons, but Dave, who lives in York, said the break had given the team a chance to refocus on pitching the programme to the international market.
He added: “There’s an insatiable desire abroad for English crime dramas – Vera is a really big seller and Midsomer Murders has been I think the longest running detetctive series.
“We were aiming at a British audience – the ideal Sunday evening, 8pm-10pm slots. But it was pretty soon pointed out to us that actually the real potential was abroad, and especially in the United States.”
The team at Visualize Films have written 12 two-hour episodes and production is underway on three of those, with interest in screening it from around the world.
Based on Oxford Economics research, Dave said the international exposure could boost York’s £750m annual tourism receipt by ten per cent.
Claim the title back
He appeared at a full council meeting to ask councillors for their backing, and said he had received a positive response.
Dave, a multi-award winning film maker and cameraman who has worked all over the world, said the team considered changing the name of the series due to sexual abuse allegations surrounding Prince Andrew – which he denies – but decided to keep it.
“He doesn’t own that title and in fact it’s a chance for us to claim that title back and give it some decency and honour,” Dave said.
Visualize Films are particularly keen that Yorkshire folk are used in the making of the series.
“Leeds and York have got an immense amount of talent,” Dave said. “Yorkshire is a wonderful place to work – from a photographic and filming point of view it is incredible.
“Also there are some amazing people both in front of and behind the camera – so we’re very keen when we’re shooting that we don’t just get talent from London.
“Actually we want to look at the talent pool in the Yorkshire area and utilise that – there are the economic benefits but also there are so many creative benefits.”