As Dad’s Army marches its way on to the silver screen Bridlington is braced for a new wave of visitors and a bumper tourism season.
The film, which was largely shot in and around Bridlington and the East Riding, had its London premiere on Tuesday and is expected to establish the seaside resort as a ‘must visit’ tourism hotspot. And as business owners in historic Old Town prepare for increased footfall this summer, they are also shaping up for their own taste of the red carpet at Yorkshire’s own Dad’s Army premiere, which will be held in the illustrious Spa Royal Hall.
Clive Ibson, a butcher at S.Crosier Family Butchers, and his colleague Martin Cockerill, are having their suits pressed in time for the glitzy premiere next Wednesday.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Clive. “How often is it that you get a big red carpet film filmed on your doorstep?
“Old Town will be a thriving place - this will draw people in, I think it will turn this street around.”
The clocks were turned back in November 2014, as High Street was transformed into wartime Walmington-on-Sea and a star-studded cast marched through its street.
Andy Todd, who owns Priory Antiques, is also heading to the premiere next week, after his shop was transformed into Hodges Grocers for the film.
“It will be good for the town. We have already had a lot of people ask us what shop we were in the film.”
Irene Cook, who helps out at Priory Antiques, added: “The filming was a wonderful experience and the work they did to the sets was amazing.
“I think it’s wonderful they are having a premiere at the Spa.”
Now Bridlington is enjoying its spot in the limelight as national media such as The Guardian and Telegraph zoom in on the town.
During production the town played host to the glitz and glam of the film industry, including Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Sir Tom Courtenay, Sir Michael Gambon and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Among those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the cast were Sally Atkinson and Sue Clark of H.Marshall Footwear Specialists, which was turned into a bakery and a drapers for the film.
Sally said: “We had Bill Nighy coming in and out of our shop and he really was fantastic.
“The others were lovely too, but we weren’t allowed to speak to Catherine Zeta-Jones.”
But perhaps luckiest of all was hairdresser Debbie Brown, who received a signed keepsake from Catherine herself.
Debbie, whose business ‘Hair Artists’ was converted into a bucket and spade shop for Dad’s Army, said: “We received a signed autograph from Catherine, she used to say good morning to us while they were filming.
“I think the film has brought something back to the street that it had lost. It will put Old Town on the map all over the world.”
Now plans are already thought to be in place to organise coach trips from the Spa, so visitors can explore High Street and see for themselves where Dad’s Army was filmed.
Susan Tobias, manager at the Georgian Tea Rooms and Antiques Centre, said Old Town’s revival as a tourist hotspot is well deserved and long overdue.
“A lot of people didn’t know it existed before. But there are not many streets in the UK like this - with all the original Georgian buildings.
“It can’t be anything but good.”
Susan said plans to further capitalise on Dad’s Army could also see the introduction of special World War Two themed menu at the tea rooms.
But Old Town is to further embrace their newfound identity and, the Old Town Association is planning a 1940s themed Summer Festival on June 12.
David Hinde, the Association’s chairman, said: “We are extremely proud to have played such a big part in the new movie and send our congratulations to the premiere.
“This shows what the Old Town Association can really do.”
Dad’s Army marches into cinemas everywhere on Friday February 5 - see page 34 of our what’s on guide for more information.