The Arts

Among the chatter and clatter of commerce and industry, Bradford’s Jewish community has let shine a fair few stars and dream chasers.

In amongst these successes have been artists and actors which include William Rothenstein and Albert Rutherston, so similarly named as they were both brothers, one opting for an anglicized name change. Ernest Leopold Sichel was another Jewish Bradford artist and contemporary of the Rothenstein brothers.

Self portraits of William Rothenstein and his brother Albert Rutherston, left to right.



Poet Humbert Wolfe 1885-1940. Pastel picture by  Sir William Rothenstein

Poet Humbert Wolfe 1885-1940. Pastel picture by Sir William Rothenstein

Rutherston also wrote a biography of the writer and poet Italian born Humbert Wolfe who was the son a German Merchant and an Italian mother, both Jewish.

The actor George Layton hails from a family whose original name was Lowy. Also a director, and he is best known for his roles in Doctor In The House and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

The actor George Layton as he was then and as he is now.

Another Jewish Bradford actor is Harrogate born Nikolas Simmonds, who would go onto star as Josef Strauss in The Strauss Family  on television n 1972, and three years later in World War One drama epic Days of Hope in 1975. He later went on to write and direct, along with completing the translation of two Anton Chekhov plays.

Actor and director Nikolas Simmonds

Actor and director Nikolas Simmonds


While not strictly born in Bradford, but descended from the Great Jacob Unna are the acclaimed academy awarding winning actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft born 1907 who was a major screen star during the Golden Age of cinema, and her granddaughter the contemporary French singer Emily Loizeau.

Actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft

Actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft


 French-English singer-song-writer Emily Loizeu

French-English singer-song-writer Emily Loizeu













There are an unusually high number of cinematic productions filmed in Bradford, all with Jewish connections. Gritty Northern Classic Billy Liar (1963) and Yanks (1979) (Filmed in Haworth) were both directed by John Schlesinger, born 1926. This includes a scene filmed in the “Boy and Barrel” public house, located along Westgate at the top end of the town. Other Northern Realism films Room At The Top (1959 and its sequel Life At The Top (1965) starred actor Lawrence Harvey who was born Zvi Mosheh Skikne in 1928, in Joniskis Lithuania.

Billy Liar, Room at the Top and Yanks, all filmed in and around Bradford

Click to watch Room At The Top on Youtube