Hazel on BBC's Salford Move

Posted: 13 January 2011

Hazel at Salford Quays

Dear Editor,

With the digital age accelerating at dizzying pace and our media landscape changing fast, it’s disappointing to see some in the BBC remain stuck in a time warp.

Alison Ford’s view that celebrities, politicians and opinion formers won’t be accessible in Salford once again drags up the same old tired and outdated stereotypes of the north.

Instead of worrying about getting Will Smith on the couch – who incidentally has been happy enough to attend film premieres in Manchester in the past – I would hope BBC editors are genuinely excited about incorporating all that is good about our contemporary, creative and authentic north into BBC programming.

Far from being a no-go area for A-list stars our region is home to a galaxy of leading entertainers and major players in their field, as well as a key destination for stars around the world. It’s also home to many UK cultural firsts.

One of my favourite moments as Salford’s MP was overhearing the ballet critic of The Times on the train from London loudly complaining that the Paris Opera Ballet were not performing in London and the only place he could see them dance La Bayadere outside Paris was in Salford!

Getting politicians into Salford is not something the BBC should worry about either. Do they need reminding that the Prime Minister made a special pilgrimage to Salford to make public his affection for Morrissey? As for opinion formers – there are plenty on our doorstep. We don’t need to ship them in from Islington.

For all the handwringing and doom mongering over the BBC’s move north, the bigger picture remains positive. The future of the BBC doesn’t depend on Hollywood. It’s about nurturing and celebrating the best of British talent. Embracing the warmth, humour and directness of the north will place the BBC at the heart of a rich pool of talent that has often been overlooked.

Yours sincerely,
Hazel Blears MP
Labour Member for Salford & Eccles

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