Back in July, Channel 4 announced a shortlist of three cities being considered for its new home: Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester.
As the broadcaster prepares to move almost half its workforce to a new UK base, the cities still in the running have made their bids for the business.
Whether Leeds ends up with one of a smaller creative hub commission or lands the big one will be announced on 1 October – but before then, here’s four reasons why we think the city deserves a piece of the action.
When TV franchising rules loosened Granada’s grip on the North in 1967, Yorkshire Television was born in cutting-edge Kirkstall Road studios. Together with the BBC, which quickly built a new regional base in Leeds, they gave the oft-neglected North its very own voice.
While Yorkshire TV set some national firsts – Breakfast TV show, 24-hour broadcasting and a festive helpline jingle that cannot be unheard – Auntie’s distinct Yorkshire dialect brought communities together.
With a potential Channel 4 move to Leeds, the city can carry on the proud traditions of Yorkshire Television, which sadly exists today in name only, and drive at the heart of regional representation that the BBC is still strong on.
Creative talent in spades
Five universities, thousands of arts, drama and dance students, and 13 of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital Agencies – Leeds has the here and now of creativity covered, as well as the past.
Tolkien’s Two Towers? He’ll have first spotted one on the Parkinson Building when he worked at the university. Hirst, Hepworth and Moore all studied and refined their arts and crafts in Leeds, while the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, The Wedding Present and Soft Cell were plying their own trade in the pubs and clubs.
Leeds is on the cutting edge of creativity during office hours, too. All in. Leeds is made up of more than 50 Leeds agencies, including Stickyeyes, keen to showcase the region’s creativity. The campaign’s love letter to Channel 4 pledges ‘collaboration, sharing and open honesty’ in an effort to drive the sector forward should Leeds be selected.
Furthermore, its five-point manifesto – Education, Community, Talent & Diversity, Businesses and Creativity – shares many of the same tenets of the Channel 4 ethos.
Channel 4 does things differently
Based on its public service remit, Channel 4 has always had a head for trying something new. From its inception in 1982, the broadcaster has always challenged viewers with its alternative editorial focus.
Big Brother took lowbrow reality programming to record-breaking ratings success. Peep Show and Brass Eye explored comedy convention (and news formats) and turned them upside down for huge critical acclaim (and controversy).
Hit sitcom Desmond’s, The Undateables’ challenging societal standards and the channel’s award-winning Paralympics coverage, have all vindicated 4’s core beliefs in providing programming with diversity and representation as central themes.
Where Birmingham and Manchester weaved their own multicultural tapestries, Leeds thrives on the same challenges of representation, only much further away from the national focus.
A thriving business opportunity - outside London?
The Government’s appointment of a Northern Powerhouse minister in 2014 signalled its intent to create an area which can rival London economically. Such is the potential for a major broadcaster to come knocking in Leeds, it can only stoke those flames and prove this city’s potential for becoming that rival.
Brexit may have scuppered plans for Leeds to be the European Capital of Culture 2023, but the team behind the bid is pressing on with new and exciting plans to promote Leeds among the country’s movers and shakers. Announcements for an expansion of the South Bank area which would see the city centre double in size – 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs – are trickling through and getting everyone excited about the potential.
An announcement for the new HQ location is expected early next week – so let’s wish Leeds the best in securing a new home for Channel 4, and an exciting future for both.