It’s not the first time the broadcaster has taken a gamble on the city - and the dividends are still being felt.
LOCATION is everything - and when that location is London and when London is the only place you can ever really hope to be if you want to reach the top of your professional game, there is one simple dilemma: do you choose work or do you choose life?
The above mostly applies to individuals brought up hundreds of miles from the M25 and particularly those with ambitions in the creative and media sectors. As Generation Rent they can face the prospect of parting with 50 percent of their wages for the pleasure of sleeping in a litter tray in West Drayton.
For plenty on the starting rungs it’s a price that must be paid.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, described the city as being Channel 4’s “soulmate”
For decades, Liverpool - along with many other provincial cities - suffered a brain drain as talent upped sticks and headed south for opportunities.
The city has worked hard to reverse the trend and it’s starting to pay off with a growing number of people selling up and looking north to put down permanent roots the city. In their droves? Who can say? But certainly enough for it to be of note.
Now Liverpool’s bid to be the new home of Channel 4 has received a significant boost, as the broadcaster today shortlisted the city in its search for a new national HQ alongside its main London base.
Mayor Joe Anderson, who is leading the bid jointly with the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, described the city as being Channel 4’s “soulmate” but there’s a long way to go before any of them tie the knot.
Six other strong and fit suitors are in the running: Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leeds, and the West Midlands. Nevertheless, we have already gone a long way to prove we’re The One.
Channel 4’s search for a location, called “4 All in the UK”, will be the biggest structural change in the broadcaster’s 35-year history, with the new national HQ housing a TV studio and hosting executive and board meetings.
Channel 4 News is to also open three new news bureaux, with a trebling of jobs in the nations and regions by 2020, while spend on shows made by TV production companies based outside London will rise from £169m annually to about £350m a year by 2023. Heartening times for those wanting a move into quality journalism with a quality of life.
“The #4forLiverpool bid was submitted in early May with a focus on several locations, including Liverpool’s World Heritage waterfront, and the strength of the city’s talent supply and world class partnerships,” said a council spokesman.
Anderson said: “This is a hotly contested bidding competition and to reach this next stage in the process demonstrates Liverpool’s pulling power as a location that offers businesses and their employees a great work/life balance.”
His oppo, Metro Mayor Rotheram, went on: “Everyone knows our city region has an incredible pool of talent of writers, actors, directors and technicians and Channel 4’s potential relocation here would put rocket boosters on our plans to establish the area as a beacon for the next generation of story tellers, film makers and set designers.”
you could argue that Channel 4 started off here - notionally at least - with Brookside being among its first flagship shows
Liverpool, which has aspirations to create one of the largest film studios in the UK, at the former Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane, has already received backing from stars from TV, film and stage including actor Amanda Redman, designer Wayne Hemmingway and Harry Potter director David Yates.
Indeed, you could argue that Channel 4 started off here - notionally at least - with Brookside being among its first flagship shows, aired on the channel’s opening night in November 1982.
It was a leap of faith by C4 in creative endeavour in the city. In return Phil Redmond’s soap dared to go where no soap had gone before, breaking taboo after taboo. In the process big stars were born from its cast, including Anna Friel and Amanda Burton, and it provided a springboard for young, unknown writers such as Jimmy McGovern and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Even thought Brookie ended in 2003, arguably the reverberations are still felt. The show’s offspring, the hugely successful Hollyoaks, continues to be made here by Lime Pictures in Childwall, and the drama also showcased a different Liverpool to the world. Europe’s first film office was established and the city is now the most filmed outside of London with £90m of productions currently in the pipeline. Liverpool John Moores University’s Screen School is recognised as one of the UK’s leading film faculties, with partnerships around the world.
McGovern, famed for writing Cracker, The Accused, Hillsborough and recent Bafta winner Broken, said: “Liverpool is full of wonderfully creative people, and if you commit to us, I promise you that all of these wonderful creatives and wonderful storytellers will fully commit to Channel 4.”
Undoubtedly. But if Channel 4 bosses were still unsure, a promise by Paul Askew, head chef at The Art School just might swing it.
“We’ve got the creative edge, artistic edge, the sporting culture, the food culture,” he said. “If you come to Liverpool, come to Art School Liverpool and I’ll do a lovely dinner for you.”
The broadcaster is to make a final decision in October.