Made in the Midlands: Outside broadcast focusses on local manufacturing

Editor, BBC Midlands Today

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In an ambitious outside broadcast, the BBC MidlandsToday team attempted to collate 101 items that were manufactured in the Midlands. Editor Robert Thompson explains.

It was one of those mad ideas from a colleague. 'You do a lot of stories from factory floors in the West Midlands', she said, 'what would happen if you got everything that's Made in the Midlands in one place?' And with that one thought -- we were off.

The Midlands: the birthplace of the industrial revolution, once the workplace of the world, home of Spitfires, whistles and chocolate, a remarkable range of things are made here for sale here in the UK and for export around the world. But as manufacturing declined, tens of thousands of jobs were lost over the year. Unemployment in the West Midlands remains high with 226,000 people out of work, more than 1% above the UK national average of 8.3%. As the economy starts to turn around experts predict much of the growth will be manufacturing – and that growth could be double the national average in the West Midlands.

So we set about asking a few questions - what does manufacturing mean to the economy here in the Midlands (quite a lot it seems) and just how important is it in driving the economic revival? And to illustrate this point we wanted 101 objects made right here in the Midlands to find their way to the Telford International Centre for quite possibly the biggest outside broadcast we've ever put on. So could we pull it off?

Two of my ace colleagues bashed the phones for two months putting in cheeky requests for things like a confectionary TV from Birmingham's local chocolate makers and a bespoke carpet from a company in Kidderminster. To my total surprise everyone said yes to helping us with this mad idea. It took on a life of its own. Not only we were saying something meaningful about the West Midlands economy but we were becoming increasingly proud of what this fantastic region produces.

The bespoke BBC Midlands Today carpet

It’s not often we junk the entire running order and devote it to something special so it felt rather odd transporting ourselves to a space in Telford. Our brilliant engineers built us a bespoke gallery as our team guided in tanks, buses and an AGA! You can see how they did it here. The response from the audience was exceptionally positive – I’ve never seen so much activity on our @bbcmtd twitter feed whilst we were on air.

It was an exciting, ambitious project designed to say something meaningful about our region and thanks to our talented team here in Birmingham we brought the audience something very special indeed.

Robert Thompson is Editor, BBC Midlands Today.


  • For more news from the area, visit the BBC Midlands Today homepage.
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