How the region’s starring role on the silver screen is a draw for tourists

A scene from the film Norfolk, directed by Martin Radich.

A scene from the film Norfolk, directed by Martin Radich. - Credit: submitted

From a superhero training ground to a Second World War battlefield, our region has been transformed into it all.

Gwyneth Paltrow walks across the beach at Holkham, North Norfolk, in the closing shot of the film Sh

Gwyneth Paltrow walks across the beach at Holkham, North Norfolk, in the closing shot of the film Shakespeare in Love. Universal publicity still dated 1998 - Credit: Archant

Over the last few years, East Anglia has become a sought-after spot for the film industry, with countless blockbusters and smaller productions shot in its towns and villages.

Tonight, Bafta-nominated director Martin Radich's haunting thriller Norfolk premieres in Norwich, becoming the latest movie to be filmed locally.

For communities, the arrival of film crews is, by and large, welcome - lucrative screen tourism can spark a gold rush of visitors to movie spots and in 2014 generated more than £100m for the national economy.

The Avengers, Tulip Fever, 45 Years, Jack the Giant Slayer, Stardust and Die Another Day are among the big names in which our county was the backdrop, while Dad's Army and Alan Partridge's escapades put Norfolk on the television map.

From the film "The Duchess" - this scene was filmed inside Holkham Hall in Norfolk.For Emma Lee.

From the film "The Duchess" - this scene was filmed inside Holkham Hall in Norfolk.For Emma Lee.

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One site which has repeatedly caught the eye of directors is Holkham - its six-mile beach and grand hall has been used for well-known films including Never Let Me Go, Shakespeare in Love and The Duchess, as well as 2017 Natalie Portman film Annihilation.

Paul O'Grady, locations manager for Holkham, said it was a mix of its geography and appearance which continued to capture imagination.

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'Holkham benefits in that the location is just about doable from London to attract producers and directors,' he said. 'The beach is uninterrupted and has pine trees, which is quite unique, and the marble hall is very impressive. We are geared up for it.'

According to Visit England and Creative England research, the value of tourist trips to Holkham sat at £900,000 in 2014.

Liam Walpole in The Goob. Picture: Supplied

Liam Walpole in The Goob. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

Celia Deeley, general manager at Holkham Enterprise, said they had enjoyed visits off the back of the coverage - including many after a recent appearance on television series Phil Spencer's Stately Homes.

She added: 'Both blockbuster movies The Duchess and Shakespeare in Love, which were filmed almost 10 years ago, have offered excellent media opportunities and, in particular, The Duchess still gets mentioned by visitors who recognise the interior of the hall – in particular the marble hall.'

Earlier this month, Tony Britten's comedy Chick Lit, which was filmed in north Norfolk, was released to the public after a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, while, last year, Guy Myhill's The Goob premiered in Norwich, after being filmed in Swaffham Raceway, Necton Diner and Fenland.

Cinema-goers will next be able to spot Norfolk in Tulip Fever, which is due to be released early next year.

Online - unconfirmed - rumours have also suggested the east has been scouted as a potential filming site for a Stephen Spielberg mini-series on the 8th USAAF.

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How lucrative can it be?

A show or film becoming a hit can generate millions of pounds in visitor income.

According to Creative England and Visit England, screen tourists generated between £100m and£140m for the economy in 2014.

The top filming site was Alnwick Castle in Northumberland – famously the home of Harry Potter's Hogwarts – which made £4.3m.

Since Poldark first aired on BBC last year, Cornwall has seen a spike in tourists, with Visit Cornwall reporting a 65pc rise in website hits and the government awarding it £60,000 to encourage visits.

Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia, said he would welcome similar success locally.

'It would be great to have a major TV series set here in Norfolk, they're wonderful opportunities to showcase our coast and countryside.

'Programmes like Poldark and Doc Martin have done wonders for Cornwall's image,' he said.

'As our visitor economy is worth £3bn a year, imagine how much more we could achieve in Norfolk with the additional publicity these things generate.'

After Alan Partridge movie Alpha Papa premiered in 2013, themed walking tours were launched and hotel websites reported soaring numbers of Norwich searches.

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