Channel 4 move – regional chiefs meet

Creative chiefs collaborate to convince Channel 4 to move to West Midlands.

Leaders from the creative industry have met to hone the West Midlands’ approach to ensure Channel 4 selects the region for its new national HQ.

At the meeting the group which included representatives from film & TV, advertising, publishing, theatre and art, discussed how to present the West Midlands’ case for becoming the new home of C4 when the broadcaster conducts its regional visit later in June.

Hosted by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, the meeting included: Adil Ray (writer/actor/director), Anita Bhalla (Creative Cities Partnership), Chris Randall (Second Home Studios), Craig Spivey (Craig Spivey Creative), Fiona Allan (The Space), Iain Bennett (BOP), Jonnie Turpie (MAC); Julia Negus (Theatre Absolute); Laura Ellis (BBC), Laura McMillan (Coventry City of Culture), Justin Eames (Fish in a Bottle); Liz Katz (Noisegate Media & Studios), Michael Gubbins (WM Screen Bureau), Neil Rami (WMGC), Ollie Clarke (Lockwood Publishing); Paul Bramwell (MediaCom), Sarah Trigg (7Wonder), Sarah Windrum (C&W LEP), Simon Chappell (Sondar), Suzie Norton (Zanna Creative), Tim Kay (KPMG), and Zoe Davidson (KPMG).

The formal bid from West Midlands Combined Authority was shortlisted by C4 at the end of May. The broadcaster will now spend the summer months working with the competing locations with the final decision being announced in October.

The WMCA bid focused on potential sites in Birmingham and Coventry, highlighting the many strengths of the West Midlands under the strapline of ‘Get Closer’, including: the region’s unparalleled connectedness to talent, ideas and resources, its youth and diversity, and the ongoing success and development the region is experiencing such as Coventry City of Culture 2021 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.

Adil Ray OBE, actor, writer & broadcaster, said: “I owe my career to Birmingham. The city allowed me to turn my dreams into reality. There are many more young storytellers right here in one of Europe’s youngest and most diverse cities, a microcosm of the UK. It’s almost impossible to imagine Channel 4, with its quest to be reflective and relevant not making Brum their new home. Channel 4 has a brilliant track record on serving broad-ranging and underrepresented audiences and I hope that we can all come together to help create 4 Brum.”

Julia Negus, producer at Theatre Absolute, said: “The creative sector in the West Midlands continues to produce world class talent across theatre, film & TV, music, and, more recently, technology and gaming. These people will shape the future of entertainment, and therefore make the region an ideal choice for Channel 4. As a place to live and work, Coventry has an unparalleled connectivity to the rest of the UK and diverse and attractive quality of life for those who choose to live here, providing the perfect conditions for the broadcaster to establish its new national HQ.”

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The West Midlands has united behind our bid to secure Channel 4’s new national HQ, and I would like to thank the creative leaders for coming together today, to share their knowledge and insight on how we can showcase our region’s talent and strengths to the broadcaster.

“We will now work to show Channel 4 why, in terms of location, talent and the youth and diversity of the population, the West Midlands is should be the number one choice for the new national HQ, as we develop the approach that brings Channel 4 to our region.”

There will be now a period of further consultation, which will see the WMCA work in partnership with C4 to highlight the benefits of moving to the West Midlands.

C4 is seeking to establish three new creative hubs outside London, as part of its ‘4 All the UK’ strategy. The largest of these hubs will become the national headquarters, consisting of offices, a new studio, a base for daily programmes and a new digital production unit. The final announcement will be October 2018, with the broadcaster moving to the new HQ in 2019.