Darcy's face launches 1,000 trips

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The Independent Online
PAUL FIELD

It seems Mr Darcy, and the broody gaze he fixed on Elizabeth Bennet, was not only responsible for melting the hearts of millions of women.

His dark, glossy curls, finely chiselled face and rogue behaviour also helped boost tourism in the principal locations used in the BBC1 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, such as Lyme Park in Disley, Cheshire, which doubled as his estate, Pemberley.

More than 14 million viewers watched the final episode which saw Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, played by Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, finally marry. Many of them later flocked to where the serial was filmed to relive their favourite scenes.

Yesterday the economic impact of the Pride and Prejudice pilgrimages was acknowledged when the pounds 6m costume drama took the top honour in the 1995 England for Excellence awards, organised by the English Tourist Board, for its outstanding contribution to tourism within and to England.

The awards at the London Hilton hotel celebrated the 100th anniversary of British cinema and acknowledged the impact films and television programmes have had on English travel and tourism.

Among the locations to have benefited from being used in the filming of the six-part serial of Pride and Prejudice are Belton House near Grantham, Lincolnshire, which doubled as Lady Catherine de Bourgh's house, Roslings Park, and Luckington Court in Wiltshire, which was used as the Bennets' house, Longbourne.

Lyme Park reported 10,000 visitors last October while Pride and Prejudice was being screened, compared with 2,000 for the same month in 1994.

Among the other categories, Manchester was voted town of the year for the way the city was promoted as a destination for cultural and short breaks.

The award for the best facilities for the disabled was won by Cheshire County Council, and the top visitor attraction was Hampton Court Palace in south-west London, which pipped Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

The Four Seasons Hotel in central London was the best hotel, while Tree Tops in East Ord, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, was the best bed and breakfast establishment.

Last year, the UK had a record 23.6 million overseas visitors- a 12 per cent increase on the previous record year of 1994 - spending pounds 11.73bn.

Best of British screen locations

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The English Tourist Board's 1995 awards celebrated the impact films and TV have had on English tourism. Here are some of Britain's best locations:

t Loch Ness: The Ted Danson romantic comedy was filmed at Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle on the north shore of Loch Duich and at Loch Torridon

t Chariots of Fire: The Olympic struggle of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell was filmed in Cambridge, Eton College and on the beach at St Andrews

t Carrington: The story of Bloomsbury set painter Dora Carrington was shot on the North Yorkshire Moors railway at Goathland and in Sussex

t The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill The film, starring Hugh Grant, about Welsh villagers obsessed with the size of a hill, was shot at Llanrhaeadr- ym-Mochnant, Clwyd, north Wales

t The Madness of King George: With Nigel Hawthorne as George III, it was filmed at Syon House, west London, Thame Park, Oxfordshire and Arundel Castle, West Sussex

t Last of the Summer Wine: The BBC TV comedy about three village eccentrics is filmed at Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

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