BBC to open centre of production excellence in Birmingham

Major plans to open a new centre of excellence for TV production in Birmingham have been unveiled by the BBC.

The Digbeth district, known as the city’s creative quarter, is expected to be the home of the site of the new production centre, with the BBC committing to producing at least one major long-running drama show and an entertainment show here.

They form part of a list of proposals aimed at bringing jobs and decision making to the West Midlands and away from the capital, reports out sister website BirminghamLive.

The plans have been published today in a new strategy called ‘Across the UK’, saying: “We will build Birmingham’s strength in TV formats, with more prime-time brands alongside Great British Menu.

“We aim to build a centre of excellence in production in Birmingham by consolidating all BBC activity there into one creative quarter, such as Digbeth.”

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The announcement comes 17 years after the BBC’s famous Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston closed while Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is behind long-running plans to open new studios, most likely in Digbeth.

The BBC’s other proposals include:

– Asian Network, currently produced in both Birmingham and London, will be consolidated into one base in Birmingham

– A news data journalism team will move to Birmingham while Radio 1 Newsbeat will be presented from the city

– Learning hubs will be establish to provide face-to-face training and support members of the public

– An apprentice academy will be created, working with the West Midlands Combined Authority. Apprentices will learn skills to work in other organisations not just the BBC

– BBC Three will launch a documentary opportunity for producers to tell original West Midlands stories

– Regional BBC One HD services will launch, making West Midlands content available on HD for the first time

– A new peak-time local radio service in Wolverhampton

Birmingham and the West Midlands will also benefit from nationwide plans to ensure spending and programme-making is focused less on London, with at least 60 per cent of its network TV budget for commissioning programmes outside the capital.

This will be up from 50 per cent now.

Head of strategy Gautam Rangarajan said: “We would expect Birmingham to be a really important part of our 60 per cent increase in TV. We certainly expect some prime time entertainment and dramas to come from Birmingham. We’ve got stuff in development there already.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street welcomed the move, saying: “Today is a landmark day for the BBC and the West Midlands.

“For too long, our region has been under-represented within the corporation but working with the new director general Tim Davie over the last few months we are now beginning to put past problems right.

“The BBC’s commitment as part of our ground-breaking regional partnership is not just about jobs and buildings, it’s about ensuring that the voices and culture of the West Midlands are heard in BBC programming.”

The BBC’s plans also include ensuring at least half of network radio and music spend will be outside London by 2027/28, compared to less than 40 per cent today.

Flagship news programmes will be presented from across the UK, and many of the teams of journalists that work on them will be moved outside London such as Radio 4’s flagship radio news programmes, Today and PM, being presented from different UK locations.

BusinessLive – West Midlands