BBC Director-General Tim Davie reaffirmed the BBC’s dedication to the North East on Tuesday, 14th November, during his address at the recording of Radio 4’s Reith Lecture in Sunderland.
The lecture, recorded in front of a full auditorium at the Fire Station, is a continuation of the BBC’s longstanding tradition of broadcasting speeches from prominent figures annually since 1948.
Presented by Professor Ben Ansell, the lecture, titled “Our Democratic Future: The Future of Solidarity,” is scheduled to air on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service on Wednesday, 13th December, with availability on BBC Sounds.
Addressing guests and key stakeholders in the region at the Fire Station prior to the lecture, Director-General Tim Davie stated, “We have finalized our Memorandum of Understanding with the North East Screen Investment Partnership and committed to investing at least £25 million here over five years. We are collaborating with 12 local authorities and three mayoral authorities to formulate a plan for funding network TV and film production in the region.”
Tim also outlined the BBC’s efforts to develop talent in the North East, saying: “In the last two years, we’ve had six new North East commissions – like Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes, and we’re just warming up our engines.
“We’ve seen a £500k development fund for new writing, to bring new people in. We’ve had the first City of Comedy festival held in Newcastle and our Festival of Proms from Gateshead, which was a triumph.
“Helen Munson, the BBC’s Daytime Commissioner, is based in the North East. And we’ve got the University of Sunderland’s Chrissy Cameron and Newcastle’s Chris Howard presenting BBC Radio 1’s early mornings.
“In the coming months we’ll also have our new dedicated online news service for Sunderland and Wearside.
“We’ve got a brand-new product and technology hub at our refurbished base in Newcastle and committed to 70 new roles there which is fantastic. We’ve got a 15% increase in our headcount here, and we’re growing.”
Tim then went on to speak about a new partnership which was announced this week (14 November 2023) and sees some of the leading figures in the creative industries, alongside local leaders across the North of England, coming together to commit to developing a “Northern Creative Corridor” (NCC).
“We have announced with Andy Haldane, the Royal Society of Arts and the Bank of England, the Northern Creative Corridor Charter. This means getting everyone together across the north of England to tell those stories and develop the economy.
“If we get the creative industries in the North, in terms of contribution to the economy, at the same level as London, we would be creating hundreds of millions of pounds worth of economic value. And the jobs will be better paid than average and more interesting.
Speaking about the BBC’s wider investment plan, Tim said: “We’re beginning to see the effect of our really ambitious Across the UK Plan. We’ve committed to an extra £700 million from our budget a year, and 60% of our Network TV commissioning spend, outside London by 2027. It seems a long time ago that we promised this, until you realise that we reached about 58% last year. We’re nearly there.
“We’ve also relocated about 200 jobs outside London, and there are now five different locations where you can work your way up in network news, as well as that cross-fertilisation of regional news, across the UK.”
Nayeema Chowdhury, Head of Delivery in the BBC Product Group, spoke about the BBC’s new tech hub, saying: “Our Product and Technology Groups support the breadth of the BBC’s digital products and services, including iPlayer and Sounds.
“The hub has opened in the newly refurbished Barrack Road Broadcasting Centre, with a fantastic purpose-built space to accommodate digital and agile ways of working.
“The intention behind the hub is to tap into the thriving tech industry here in the North East and attract local talent. We’re continuing to grow with roles currently available for Product Data Managers and Software Engineers.”
The Kemps: All Gold is a BBC Studios Comedy production (1 x 60) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy at the BBC. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Rhys Thomas, and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Ben Caudell.
Broadcast details for The Kemps: All Gold will be announced in due course.