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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 12:25 GMT
BBC plans for Manchester move
By Rozina Breen
BBC News, Manchester

Blackpool
BBC One drama Blackpool starring David Morrissey
Manchester is set to become a major media centre under the BBC's plans to move significant amounts of television and radio production from London.

The BBC says it is serious about creating a "production cluster" in the north, which would mean more programmes from both the corporation and independent companies being made in Manchester.

The city has been chosen for several reasons, not least to act as a base for attracting talent from across the north of England.

Relocation

BBC spending per head is low in the north of England and less money is also spent on network programming in Manchester than in other cities like Bristol and Birmingham.

The corporation also says the north currently has lower levels of approval of the BBC and that the current Manchester site needs to be redeveloped anyway, so it makes sense to move there.

About 1,800 staff will make the move to the city in order to increase the percentage of employees based outside London from 42% to 50%.

Regional boost

The BBC wants to create a Children's BBC Centre in Manchester that parents and children can visit - members of the public will also be able to tour the studios and see how programmes are made.

The corporation also plans to launch a media academy for skills and learning in partnership with Manchester City Council and the local government development agency.

A media enterprise zone to help local independent producers and boost the local economy will be set up with media trade group PACT.

Manchester has long been a dynamo of creative talent.

BBC programmes Cutting It and Blackpool as well as Channel 4 productions Shameless and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere are examples of the television output to come from the city.

Other productions include BBC Three's Conviction and ITV's The Second Coming.

'New London'

Endemol chairman Peter Bazalgette, responsible for Big Brother, The Salon and Fame Academy, has previously described Manchester as the "new London".

Mark Thompson the BBC's Director General
Mark Thompson sets his sights on Manchester

Independent producer Hat Trick, which produces Have I Got News For You, The Kumars at No 42 and Father Ted, has already opened a production office in Manchester.

Last week Objective Productions, which is responsible for Channel 4's Derren Brown - Mind Control, announced its intention to set up an office in the city too.

Film makers are also recognising the allure of the north of England.

Producers of the feature film Alfie, starring Jude Law, spent more than 1.5m in north west England.

They used the Northern Quarter in Manchester as a double for New York during a 10-day shoot.




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