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Watch Out for Wigan on Your Christmas Telly!
Saturday 24th December, 2005

Viewers from across the nation may be in for an overdose of Wigan on their televisions during the Yuletide season. As people settle down to enjoy a deluge of Christmas specials and re-runs on the box, they may be surprised to see a splatter of images of our beautiful borough on their TV sets. And, it’s not only Wallace and Gromit!

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and Wigan Council, who monitor the levels of interest from film companies and television stations, have seen the amount of coverage in the borough increase dramatically over the last twelve months. Many of the trust’s prime venues, such as Haigh Hall and Wigan Pier, have featured as backdrops to films and TV documentaries with the borough’s streets being utilised as real-life film sets.

“All eyes have been on Wigan this year and this has been reflected by the number of national TV stations who have wanted to film at our many attractions and locations,” says Chris Dunbar, Public Relations Officer for the trust. “I think the good impressions we’ve made have resulted in many journalists going away and recommending the borough as a great place to use as a back drop for many different types of shows. We estimate that this free coverage would is worth several million pounds.”

There have been many examples of filming in the borough over the last view months:

  • Living TV were recently in the borough for their popular makeover show ‘Revealed’ in which Vicky Shaw of St Helens was ‘revealed’ to her family and friends in the sumptuous surroundings of Haigh Hall.
  • The BBC’s ‘Who Rules The Roost’, filmed a local family enjoying a memorable day out at Haigh Hall and Wigan Pier.
  • Granada’s ‘Locks and Quays’ have filmed twice at Wigan Pier as part of their series highlighting the joys of life on the canals in the North West.
  • Formby Hall and Haigh Golf Complex have both been used as the backdrop to A Question of Sport’s ‘Mystery Guest’ round.
  • Channel 5’s ‘Food Facts’ took advantage of the borough’s two-thirds of greenspaces to capture glorious stills for their culinary show.
  • Dutch TV’s leading sports station RTV filmed a documentary about Wigan’s industrial heritage, at Wigan Pier, with the aide of Wigan Athletic’s Arjan De Zeeuw.
National news stations have had their eyes firmly glued on Wigan as they chart the Latics’ rise up the Premiership table this season. Many seasoned reporters have come to Wigan to explore the reality behind the mythical perception that Wigan is a ’grim old town in the north’, full of cobbled streets and flat caps. Local celebrities, including the Mayor of Wigan, have regularly appeared on Sky Sports News and rival sports and news shows, with the trust’s and Council’s Public Relations teams fielding countless enquiries from national and international TV stations.

“The phones have never stopped buzzing this season, with reporters from all over the globe wanting factual information about the borough and the opportunity to meet people from the town,” continues Chris. “It is a long process to change the image of Wigan to ‘outsiders’ but the feedback we get from journalists and filmmakers alike is always positive. They are always overwhelmed when they visit places such as Haigh Hall, the Pier and Pennington Flash, because of the natural beauty they don’t expect to find here.”


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