Robert Hampton

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4th August 2010

It’s Not Grim Up North
Posted by at 8.27pm | Television | No responses

In 2007 the BBC announced plans to up sticks and move a large number of departments and staff to MediaCityUK in Salford. The Sport and Children’s departments are moving en masse, along with Radio 5 Live. It was recently announced that BBC Breakfast will follow suit.

I think it’s a great idea. I love the BBC but the corporation does have a bit of a blind spot with the north of England, and relocating to Salford could go a long way towards redressing the balance and ensuring that the corporation better reflects all of Britain. Also, I went past MediaCity last year and even in its half-completed state it looked absolutely incredible. I can tell it’s going to be a great place to work.

The move has not been without its critics and the corporation has been accused of wasting money. The Daily Mail — with their long-standing antipathy for the BBC and scorn for anywhere outside the Home Counties — have delighted in stories about presenters who dislike the move and executives who won’t relocate.

The latest person who is reportedly not moving is Breakfast‘s Sian Williams, although she told the Manchester Evening News that for her it is because she does not want to uproot her family, rather than any perceived problems with working in the North (in fact she worked on North West Tonight for five years).

I’m not too upset about Londoners refusing to relocate: it would be preferable for there to be a real infusion of local talent. What’s the point in spending millions building expensive new facilities in Salford, only to fill them with people from down South?

I appreciate that people do not want to uproot their families, but it appears that some people are genuinely concerned about lack of quality of life. Well, it’s their loss — “The North” is not some depressing hellhole of flat caps and whippets. There is no sign across the M6 as you head up from Birmingham, reading “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here” (although if you have to go as far as Morecambe you may see one). Our cities are smaller than London, but they are every bit as civilised and cosmopolitan. We have sushi bars and gay people up here too, you know!

Also, the wonderful Gordon Burns should be main presenter on Breakfast after the move.