From Rigsby to Dusty Bin, five of the most memorable TV shows made in Leeds

Leonard Rossiter and Richard Beckinsale in a scene from Rising Damp.
Leonard Rossiter and Richard Beckinsale in a scene from Rising Damp.
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It might not be Hollywood just yet but Leeds can still be counted as one of the country’s small screen production capitals.

From Emmerdale and Fat Friends to Red Riding and The Beiderbecke Affair, the city has a proud tradition of playing host to some of the UK’s best-loved programmes.

Countdown's Richard Whiteley with the programme's long-serving maths queen Carol Vorderman.

Countdown's Richard Whiteley with the programme's long-serving maths queen Carol Vorderman.

Here are five of the most memorable TV shows made in Leeds.

• Yorkshire Television’s legendary sitcom Rising Damp ran for 28 unforgettable episodes between 1974 and 1978.

It starred Leonard Rossiter as Rigsby, the seedy landlord of a run-down boarding house in a city that is never named but is widely assumed to be Leeds.

Much of the comedy is provided by his ham-fisted attempts to better himself socially or win the heart of one of his tenants, Miss Jones (Frances de la Tour).

Sheridan Smith in crime drama Black Work.

Sheridan Smith in crime drama Black Work.

Rigsby also appears to be a Leeds United fan, bemoaning their 1975 European Cup final defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich with the joyously un-PC observation: “When they scored that second goal, I thought they were going to break out into the goose-step.”

And, when asked on another occasion whether a parliamentary candidate enjoys blood sports, Rigsby gives the immortal response: “I know he watches Leeds United.”

Rising Damp’s writer, Eric Chappell, penned a number of other successful comedies that were made by YTV, including Only When I Laugh and Duty Free.

• More than 4,000 episodes of daytime quiz Countdown were recorded at ITV’s Kirkstall Road studios in Leeds.

Originally hosted by the irrepressible Richard Whiteley, it was the first programme broadcast on Channel 4 when the station launched in 1982.

Cost-cutting at ITV meant production of the show shifted to Manchester in 2009, four years after Richard’s sad death.

Those bidding a regretful farewell to Countdown when it moved across the Pennines included his late partner Kathryn Apanowicz.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post at the time: “I’m terribly disappointed that it’s not going to be made in Leeds any more.

“I am sure they will work hard in Manchester but Countdown has always been made in Yorkshire, it’s always been in the same studios, it’s always had the same make-up people and so on.

“I know Richard would have hated to see it leaving Leeds.”

• Gloriously-daft Saturday evening show 3-2-1 ran on ITV for 10 years until 1988 under the watchful eye of host Ted Rogers.

A madcap mash-up of old-style variety turns and quiz questions, it was best known for its Dusty Bin booby prize and prize clues that would have stumped Sherlock Holmes.

Don’t believe us? One episode saw contestants presented with some sheet music and tasked with working out the hidden meaning behind ‘The Arches Might Provide A Clue, Not Strolling But He’s Going Too’.

Courtesy of the marvellous TV Cream website, here is Ted’s eventual explanation: “Well the first three letters of arches might have been clue enough, but we also said not strolling but he’s going too.

“Well if you take away HES from arches, all you have left is ARC. If you rearrange that with the sheet music, you’re left with ‘Music Maestro Please’.

“So what do think that means? Maestro! The British Leyland Maestro! You’ve won the car!”

• A documentary series that ran for nearly 200 episodes on ITV between 1987 and 1994, Jimmy’s took viewers behind the scenes of St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

It is widely regarded as having paved the way for fly-on-the-wall hits like The Cruise, Hotel and Driving School.

One of the programme’s most famous stories was that of 12-year-old Jamie McGrath, whose right arm was severed between the wrist and the elbow after it got caught up in a spin dryer.

The youngster needed a nine-and-a-half-hour operation to reconnect his hand.

ITV bosses were initially unconvinced by the series, with one executive even suggesting subtitles might be needed because of the participants’ Yorkshire accents.

• Coming right up to date, ITV police drama Black Work was shot in places including Leeds Minster, Kirkstall Road’s Cardigan Arms pub and the Trinity Leeds centre.

Broadcast earlier this year, it starred Sheridan Smith and was backed by the Screen Yorkshire agency.

Speaking to the YEP about Leeds’s popularity with programme makers, Screen Yorkshire’s head of production, Richard Knight said: “Part of it is the range of locations we are able to offer.

“You can be in the city and then out in the countryside in no time at all.

“Then there is our content fund, which is a public-private investment fund for the TV, film, video games and digital sectors in Yorkshire and the Humber.

“We estimate that for every pound we put in, the region’s economy gets three back in terms of jobs, exposure and so on.

“The programmes that have gone before are also a wonderful advert for what we can do here.”

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