A new campaign has today been launched to persuade Channel 4 to move to Leeds - with a pledge that it will spark a revolution in the creative and screen industries in Yorkshire and across the North.
The Leeds City Region partnership of Yorkshire councils has launched its #4Sparks drive to attract the relocation of the commercial broadcaster, and it’s been backed by a host of up and coming Yorkshire talent and key creative names.
The campaign comes after the YEP reported earlier this year that parts of Channel 4 - including its digital arm and some of the responsibility for commissioning programmes - could be relocated to ensure television better represents the North.
An initial bid has already been submitted by Leeds and its neighbour councils. And now, the local authorities have teamed up with Screen Yorkshire and a host of young actors and producers from the region to support the campaign.
Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “There’s a real momentum here and I’m delighted the young creatives of the region have come together to champion the #4Sparks campaign, demonstrating that we offer a distinctive voice for Channel 4. We all know that the region is on the cusp of a real transformation and Channel Four are the spark, the opportunity that could lead that revolution.
“We’re fully committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with Channel Four to offer a full package of support to de-risk the process of relocation.
“We offer a unique location, creative talent, diversity of voices and critical mass of digital platform developers to support commercial success.”
Among those supporting the drive is Bradford actress Maariah Hussain, who stars in school-drama Ackley Bridge, which filmed in Halifax and was part-financed by Screen Yorkshire. She said: “It’s great to be part of #4Sparks because I’m really excited about the potential for Channel Four moving here. I’m proud to be part of a group of young, creative people from Bradford, York, Huddersfield and Leeds coming together to show how inspirational a Channel Four presence would be.”
David Eccles, founding partner of Leeds-based Numiko, Channel Four’s digital partner for many high profile projects such as The Undatables, Stand Up to Cancer, Fresh Meat, Bear Grylls‘ The Island and the Paralympics, added: “With the unstoppable rise of on-demand, internet based content providers such as Netflix and Amazon vying for viewers’ attention, Channel Four needs to be able to plug into a local ecosystem of digital talent which will guarantee their success for the next 35 years. I strongly believe that Leeds can provide this.”
Reasearch shows that Yorkshire and the Humber’s film and TV industries growth has outstripped that of every other part of the UK, including London and the South East.
The figures show that between 2009-2015, Yorkshire’s film and TV Industries generated an annual turnover of £424m across 590 creative businesses, an increase of 247 per cent against the UK average of 118 per cent, with Gross Value Added (GVA) increasing 242 per cent in comparison to a UK average growth of 120 per cent.
Figures are based on data from ONS, taken from research commissioned by Screen Yorkshire as part of the BFI-supported Creative Clusters programme.