We’ve hit on a lucky streak for tourism

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IT has been controversial, but the dog sculpture made famous by a television programme is proving a lucky streak for tourism.

A month ago some town councillors were scathing in their comments when asked to put some money towards the path leading to the Lucky Dog statue at Centre Vale Park, featured in the Todmorden-based episode of illusionist Derren Brown’s Channel 4 television programme The Experiments last autumn.

But it appears the show, and Lucky, created by Todmorden artist David Wynne, is creating interest and attracting people to Todmorden, a pattern likely to increase following the series winning Best Entertainment Programme category at this year’s BAFTA awards ceremony in London at the end of May.

Todmorden Toy and Model Museum owner Mike Wollerton says visitors increasingly mention the show and he was amazed to greet a visitor from South Africa recently asking about the programme.

Todmorden Information Centre staff say the number of people asking where to find Lucky is on the increase.

Mike, among those filmed for the Derren Brown show, was surprised but delighted to welcome Professor Kriben Pillay of Durbam South Africa, and believes the Brown link is bringing people into Todmorden, helping boost the tourism economy.

“The man from South Africa happened to see my shop sign, and then asked me where Wayne Stansfield, who was among those featured in the programme, was,” said Mike.

“I had been pessimistic about the programme but trade is well up and a lot of people mention the show, or look it up.”

The Todmorden editioon was about luck with several Todmordians being persuaded the statue of the dog, in Centre Vale Park, was lucky, encouraging belief in luck. It ended with local butcher Wayne staking his savings, trusting to luck and coming up trumps on a roll of the dice, filmed at Todmorden Town Hall.

Jacqui Matthews, manager of Todmorden Information Centre, says that whatever people think about the programme or the dog there is no doubt it is bringing people into Todmorden, some of them asking straight away “where’s the dog?”

Jacqui says: “A party of hardcore Derren Brown fans are coming specially to have a picnic with the dog this summer.

“If it brings people into Todmorden, it’s a good thing.”

And Todmorden’s Lucky Dog has his own Twitter account with more than 500 followers, creating extra interest in Lucky’s fortunes.

Receiving the BAFTA, Derren Brown thanked the people of Todmorden for their contribution and producer of the Todmorden edition of the show, Nick Angel, believes coming here was a gamble that paid off for the illusionist.

“We were shocked and thrilled to get the BAFTA and Derren said in his speech that the award was as much for anyone who was in the programme as well as himself.

“We were very lucky in picking Todmorden. We visited 20 or 30 towns and it was hard to know which one to chooose. But the atmosphere here was really friendly and with a sense of community.

“It’s good the show has gone down positively. We didn’t have any control over how it went and we were a bit nervous because there was a degree of duplicity.

“But I’m very fond of Todmorden. I have got an attachment to the place,” said Nick.