You could be forgiven for thinking sport was a national obsession this summer. Lucky then the bulk of the UK's coverage is produced by BBC teams based at our MediaCity home in the North for BBC Television, Radio 5 live and our BBC Sport website.
For the next few weeks we will be preoccupied with The Big Summer of Sport: the 2014 FIFA World Cup first, the Golf Open Championships from Royal Liverpool and then Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. And that extraordinary cycling weekend when the Tour De France comes to the glorious Yorkshire countryside and its cities, towns and villages – BBC 6Music and Radio Leeds will be broadcasting from the start line too.
But there's much more being produced and supported by the BBC here than just great sport.
Our spring / summer burst of top class drama is in full flow – watch out for our Great British Drama – Made in the North TV trails soon: on BBC One Happy Valley took West Yorkshire's grit and beauty to new levels – and audiences and approval ratings too; in From There to Here Philip Glenister strode through a decade of British political and social life beginning with Manchester's 1996 IRA bomb; soon it's Kay Mellor's Leeds based Rollem Productions' In The Club, a six-part BBC One series about a group of colourful, expectant Northern mums and dads; and Jimmy McGovern's campaigning Common from Liverpool's LA Productions, which tackles the UK's controversial common enterprise law. The autumn promises similar strong North of England-made BBC dramas like The Village and Last Tango in Halifax.
This week we are also in Sheffield where the world's leading documentary festival has opened. The Sheffield Doc/Fest is a magnet for thousands of programme makers and buyers. It's also the premiere of our BBC Four Storyville feature Love Is All, which I can't wait to introduce in the grounds of Chatsworth, with a score by former Pulp guitarist extraordinaire Richard Hawley.
It's To Hull and Back too – part of BBC Radio 2's Comedy Week – the eagerly awaited sitcom pilot from Lucy Beaumont. Lucy organises a car boot sale so she can leave Humberside and become a famous actress – the only trouble is she doesn't have a car. It's highly recommended – live or on BBC Radio iPlayer. I have a feeling Lucy, who won the BBC New Comedy Award, will be featuring heavily in our Hull 2017 City of Culture coverage.
Liverpool is a city to visit this summer as it's bursting with some of the most imaginative events in the UK supported by BBC regional and network coverage – from the International Festival of Business to the Tate's Mondrian exhibition, the Biennial's stunning Dazzle Ship displays and Royal De Luxe street parades – the latter both marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the World War One. And this Friday BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 6Music kick off the city's Music on the Waterfront Festival. 6Music DJ Craig Charles and guests play a free, live set at Pier Head.
The North East has certainly seen a lot of the BBC lately too. Catch Radio 4's Round Britain Quiz on Mondays, a series recorded in its entirety at Doxford Hall near Alnwick in Northumberland; the CBBC channel moved its operation to Newcastle/Gateshead over the half term holidays to entertain 35,000 people for free on the banks of the Tyne with shows from Blue Peter, Sam and Mark and CBBC Newsround. Our hit series Wolfblood, shot at lovely Rowland's Gill, has just finished recording too. The North East is fast becoming a centre for great children's drama production, as it's now also home to The Dumping Ground and Hatty's War, two other popular CBBC series – a great credit to programme talent there.
BBC Children's has in fact become a leading producer of TV for the BBC made in the North. Just this month So Awkward moved into Radcliffe Riverside High School near Bury to shoot a comedy series about three geeky 12 year old girls coping with life, love and embarrassing parents; and the Hank Zipzer team – including legendary actor Henry Winkler – will be in Halifax from later this month for series number two shot there. What's wonderful is the new employment and training this creates too and the support for digital and craft skills in the region. On that note, we have just launched our first Future Media Apprentice Scheme in IT, software and web technologies to be based in Salford – alongside our 60 other new apprentices and ambassadors. Our new recruits will work on everything from CBeebies to iPlayer – and the details are on the BBC Careers website until 22nd June.
I am really looking forward to catching up with the team behind our latest BBC One drama set in the North West, Our Zoo, based on the real life origins of Chester Zoo and featuring everything from penguins to camels. When I visit them this week they've got a bear making an appearance – so wish me luck.
Finally, enjoy our World Cup coverage – the first truly 24/7 football tournament – with content from more than 60 matches available around the clock on all manner of devices supported from our MediaCity base. It's great news that our partners ITV and ourselves have just secured World Cup broadcast rights for 2018 and 2022 as well – superb international matches available free to air for years to come.
It's Wimbledon soon too on the BBC of course – anyone for tennis?
Peter Salmon is Director, England
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