TV tourism has seen German visitors flooding to Poole to explore the picturesque town which features in their top rated drama.

The novels of Rosamunde Pilcher are extremely popular in Germany, where national TV station ZDF has produced more than 70 of her stories.

These small-screen films are some of the most popular programmes on the channel, striking a chord with viewers keen to visit the locations, including the historic old town and quayside.

“Last year told us Poole was their most popular destination for German tourists,” said Duncan Kerr, the borough’s filming officer.

TV tourism is just one aspect of a serious bid to exploit the town’s considerable assets of talent and unique locations.

In fact, its prospects of raising funds for the cash-strapped council are being taken so seriously that its commercial opportunities are part of the borough’s medium term financial plan.

“We are seeing a much higher level of enquiries this year from last year,” said economic development officer Duncan.

“Last year we had seven TV, film and photo shoots in the local area. This year we have had 27. That’s a considerable increase and it’s partly down to the work we have done.”

Unsurprisingly the glorious golden beach at Sandbanks is top of the list for location shots with the stately home of Upton House and its waterside park a very popular spot. The Haven Hotel is also very film-friendly.

Turn on and tune in to see a new ITV dating show called Take Me Out, due to start in January, and you will see one of the contestant being filmed on Sandbanks beach.

BBC Wales visited Broadstone, where Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution, ended his life and is buried.

GMTV based its weather outside broadcasts at Sandbanks all summer with fitness instructor Mr Motivator leading exercise on the sand. And the BBC filmed a Springwatch programme from the SSSI at Hatchpond.

Littlewoods summer fashion collection was shot on the beach and the borough’s sought-after homes appear often on property programmes.

However, all is not what it appears in the world of film, with Sandbanks lifeguard tower posing as a Miami beach.

It is not easy to say what financial effect this has on the local economy, however South West Screen, which supports and develops creative media in the region, has produced figures for what could be generated with major productions in the area – a feature film £22,660 a day, TV drama £19,998, TV period drama £22,121, commercials £10,730 and docu-dramas £8,496.

The desire to exploit the town’s considerable assets and bring the funds and the tourists rolling in is only scene one of the unfolding drama.

Scene two is helping promote the area’s strong creative media industries, strengthened by students flooding out of Bournemouth University and the Arts Institute.

The Location Poole website is due to go live in the new year, promoting the borough as a film-friendly town, ready and able to help.

“What it is all about is supporting the talent we have here by promoting the area to companies outside,” said Duncan.

“We know we have a lot of talent coming out of Bournemouth and Poole and we want to try and develop that.”

* The stunning harbour setting, millionaires row at Sandbanks, the historic old town and surrounding countryside featured in a BBC series called The Collectors in 1984/5.

It revolved around a group of Customs and Excise officers in the fictional seaside town of Wrelling, which bore more than a passing resemblance to Poole.

Seaside smuggling made for some colourful episodes, along with EC fraud, tax avoidance and ice-cream wars, fought by actor Peter McEnery as Harry Caines and his team of officers.

But it was not all work and the erupting passions of private lives and relationships added to the drama.

Bruce Grant-Braham, now chairman of Poole Tourism Partnership, wrote and took the photos for a souvenir book of The Collectors, revealing where scenes were set in the town and beyond.

“Like most of these things we hoped it would go on and make two or three series or more,” he said. “They did the one series.”

The series producer, the late Geraint Morris, was at the time working on a new medical soap, which turned out to be the long-running Casualty, which began in 1986.

“That became a wall-to-wall success and we faded into the background,” said Bruce. “But it was good. It got the name around.”