New historic TV drama filmed in Wakefield will 'shine a light' on the city's past

A TV drama filmed in and around Wakefield city centre will premiere to audiences online next week.

Friday, 1st May 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Friday, 1st May 2020, 3:21 pm
Clara tells the story of 19th century diarist Clara Clarkson, who recorded her life as an unmarried woman in a series of detailed journals. (Photo: Clara TV Drama)
Clara tells the story of 19th century diarist Clara Clarkson, who recorded her life as an unmarried woman in a series of detailed journals. (Photo: Clara TV Drama)

Clara tells the story of 19th century diarist Clara Clarkson, who recorded her life as an unmarried woman in a series of detailed journals.

Filmed on location across Wakefield, including at St Peter's Church, Kirkthorpe, the pilot uses the journals as a basis to explore Clara's life as a suffragist and unmarried Victorian woman.

The pilot was commissioned by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield, a voluntary group who have uncovered the stories of more than a dozen historical women who helped to shape the city.

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Sarah Cobham, who founded the FWW project and served as executive producer for the pilot, said: "There was a lot of interest - people are interested in their local history and there's nothing good on telly.

"We decided that we would have a watch party. Clara's story is far too important to be kept in a can. If lockdown hadn't happened we would be at the next stage [with a production company].

"This is about power and control and women finding their place in an oppressive Victorian society.

“Clara didn’t achieve anything because she couldn’t. What she did do is she described what life was like for women in Victorian times.

Sarah Cobham, founder of the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project and executive producer of Clara.

“That shone a real spotlight on how awful it was for them.

“She set up a literary society, a music society, these safe spaces for women who never married for one reason or another.”

Clara's diaries detail her attempts to fit into an oppressive Victorian society. A suffragist, she never married, and was one of just 11 women from the city to sign the 1866 Suffrage Petition.

Following her death in 1889, she left large amounts of money to Ann Ashton, who was employed as a servant but is widely believed to have been Clara's life partner.

Clara will premiere during a one-time watch party on Facebook from 8pm on Monday. For more information, click here.

The team are also asking for donations to support their future work, as many stream of funding have been cut off during the coronavirus crisis.

Sarah said: "What would you pay if you went to the cinema? Even if it's just £5 each.

"Our short film Clara was achieved without funding, everyone gave their time and skills for expenses only. The costumes were cobbled together, the settings gifted, the cast and crew worked 16 hour days over 3 weekends.

"It is only with imagination, determination and ingenuity were we able to bring Clara to you. We use these donations to bring more women's stories to you."

Based on research conducted by Helga Fox, the pilot includes details from Clara’s diaries and follows a script by Caleb Shepherd. Directed by Anastasia Arsentyeva, it has been filmed in Wakefield and produced by students from the University of York.

For more information on the Forgotten Women of Wakefield, or to donate today, visit their website.A message from Deputy Editor Gavin Murray:

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