Phil Redmond leads Liverpool’s Channel 4 bid

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

As Channel 4 lays out its argument that it should remain firmly in the capital, the regions are putting their relocation bids together.

The leading contenders of Birmingham and Manchester, have been joined by a growing shortlist of Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, Bradford and now Liverpool.

The Liverpool bid is being headed up by Phil Redmond. Somewhat ironically, Channel 4 cited the success of Hollyoaks (the drama he created) as one of the main case studies to show how much it was investing in the Nations and Regions.

“As one of the founding producers that helped Channel 4 develop its distinctive voice I long felt that there was a need to find some way to refresh its vision and reinvigorate its voice,” he stated.

"Moving the channel out of London seems the right solution. "Moving it to Liverpool, the UK's second city of culture, seems the obvious solution.”

The bid team includes Liverpool City Council and Liverpool John Moores University - of which Redmond is an honorary Fellow.

“Channel 4’s global reputation reflects that which our city is renowned for: pushing the boundaries of creativity, developing the talent and skills for a thriving and capable workforce, and, embracing diversity and individuality that contributes to a vibrant and innovative community,” added Prof Nigel Weatherill, VC of Liverpool John Moores.

The Liverpool bid outlines a number of reasons why it should be considered for Channel 4’s new base, but its main argument is that unlike other major cities, it is “deprived” of a major broadcasting presence.

It says that at the very least, a C4Talent hub centred in Liverpool would ensure that regional talent wasn’t overlooked.

“Liverpool City Region has a rich heritage in the creative and digital sector including music, film, television, gaming, media, and digital technology. The sector’s current GVA contribution to the city region is more than £800m with a projected rise to £1.6bn by 2030,” it states.

“The City is a highly media-literate environment and ideally placed to act as a gateway for new markets and creativity. This has been in the DNA of the city for generations.

“This vibrant convergence of the creative and digital sectors to meet the needs of the digital economy and the multi-platform media industry, coupled with the strong entrepreneurial spirit within the region, creates a perfect environment to host and nurture a regional Channel 4 offering.

“The Media industry features strongly in Liverpool’s identity. Liverpool is the most filmed in city outside of London. From Chariots of Fire (1981) to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) a wide variety of films have been shot on location in the city. In 2015, 257 film and TV projects came to the city, resulting in 1,067 filming days bringing in £11.5m to the local regional economy.”

Elsewhere, Creative Sheffield has already earmarked a site for Channel 4, the vacant Sheaf Square area, near the railway station. It believes that with major transport links and a “wealth of creative talent”, Sheffield is, to quote: “up for this.”

Bradford MPs are also lobbying for West Yorkshire. They believe Channel 4 could be based in Leeds, with a training centre created in Bradford and other offices across the county.

Their bid is backed by Screen Yorkshire:

“Some of the best TV shows, including Channel 4’s National Treasure have been filmed in Yorkshire, and we are really fighting to bring Channel 4 here.

“There has also been a lack of investment in the east of the country, with activity going on in Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham.

“The east has not been getting representation and it’s important the whole of the north is represented, especially with the Government’s Northern Powerhouse, and we want this to be an opportunity to turn the tide.”

In Birmingham, West Midlands leaders have also launched an official bid to attract the channel. Its pitch is that Channel 4 could “thrive” in the area, possibly near one of the two new HS2 stations in the city centre, or Solihull.

Manchester/Salford, also a front-runner, was quick to put its case forward, led by Mayor (and former culture secretary), Andy Burnham. He said that MediaCityUK was the “only viable alternative outside of London.”