Target Towns: Could Grimsby give Hollywood a run for its money?

Compared with Hollywood, Grimsby is perhaps more fish factory than dream factory - but just like La La Land, the Lincolnshire port town is aiming for the stars with ambitious plans to become a go-to location for filmmakers.

"Build it and hopefully they will come," is the belief of Emma Lingard, a resident who once worked in TV but is now a manager at Associated British Ports (ABP), the owners of Grimsby Docks.

"Every producer or location manager that has come to us is saying that London is overpriced," she says. "They're finding there are too many other productions jostling for the same space... so they're looking up North."

Seeing the potential, ABP has set up the Kasbah Film Quarter, based around some of its historic buildings. The plan is to expand by building a much sought-after resource in the UK - a sound stage, for soundproof recording of film and TV, as well as production hubs.

It might seem a stretch to compare Grimsby with the famous Hollywood film and musical Sunset Boulevard and its antagonist, the fading silent movie star Norma Desmond - but there are definite parallels as it tries to find its place in an industry that doesn't exist as it was.

Once the biggest fishing port in the world (it's still big, it's the catches that got small), signs of that faded glory remain but that's actually quite a sought-after asset within UK film and TV.

"There is a great appeal for the old buildings we have... the authenticity and the character," says Lingard. Part of the appeal for filmmakers is how they can save costs when it comes to building sets, she says.

It is an area that's home to a wealth of empty historic buildings, including eight nationally listed ones which are clustered together and closed off to the public. These recently doubled-up for wartime London in the Netflix drama Bodies, starring Stephen Graham.

"You can look at that building and think East End of London or maybe a street in the back of New York somewhere," Lingard says. "You've just got to have that vision."

Grimsby also provided a location for filming of the 2007 film Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

And it already has the acting talent. Thomas Turgoose, who found fame in his early teens when he was cast in Shane Meadows's critically acclaimed This Is England, has remained a resident despite his film career taking him all over the world.

"Shooting in London is a nightmare," he jokes. "If you're in someone's way or put a five-minute delay on them getting a coffee, oh my God, it's like you've just ruined their Christmas... which is probably one of the reasons I've never moved."

Turgoose is convinced more productions would shoot in his hometown if everyone was more aware of what it has to offer.

"We've got so much going on around here... if you want to come to Grimsby and shoot period drama it looks amazing, but then also you can go to the beach in five minutes. Hopefully this opens people's eyes.

"It goes back to people being proud of Grimsby and having a vision and being confident in it... and hopefully the film industry is going to do that for it."

Would the likes of Hollywood stars such as Timothee Chalamet enjoy swapping the capital for Cleethorpes, a nearby seaside town?

"I think he'd quite enjoy it, actually," says Turgoose. "I mean, he'd love the fish and chips."

But are locals quite ready for an invasion of carb-denying A-listers?

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Jade Shearer, the manager of local chip shop Ernie Becketts, reckons she could convert a few.

"I definitely wouldn't say no to serving Brad Pitt," she laughs. "We need more things to bring people back here again and make it as busy as it used to be."

With Grimsby and Cleethorpes likely to be a battleground in the next general election, politicians will undoubtedly promise all sorts of investment, including getting on board with Grimsby's Hollywood ending - but the creative minds here are currently ploughing on alone.

They say they've learned over the years that politicians' promises tend to end up on the cutting room floor.

Putting it politely, Lingard says: "If opportunities came along to give us pockets of money to help restore the heritage, then great... but you need to see action sometimes more than words."

For now, it's the big screen action she's concentrating on, including coming up with ways to attract the likes of 007 up North.

"Actually, in 1981, a James Bond movie was filmed in Grimsby," Lingard laughs. "So why not?"

Get ready, Mr DeMille - Grimsby is ready for its close-up.

Sky News' Target Towns series aims to follow the build-up to the general election from a key constituency prized by both Conservatives and Labour - Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Send in your stories to