Arriving at Media City - a sports reporter goes North

Wednesday 8 June 2011, 16:45

Francis Keogh Francis Keogh

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The BBC's new offices at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays

Editor's note: Frank Keogh is a senior sports reporter at the BBC. He and his family have moved to Salford. He'll be sharing the experience with us here on the blog. He starts with an introduction:

One thing helped my decision to up sticks 200 miles from London to the North West.

My football team West Ham would be playing in Manchester, on Merseyside and at several other big local grounds. Then they were relegated.

I'll be blogging during 2011 as we reshape our lives in the north and settle into a new work HQ at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays.

In another life, I was a crime reporter. For the last decade, I have worked on the BBC Sport website, with horse racing, football and the Olympics among my areas of interest.

I'm a former school chess and table tennis finalist, and desperately hoping I can somehow improve my 22 golf handicap. You can follow me on Twitter.

After 11 years at Television Centre in London, a new place of work has a hard act to follow.

There can be few venues that have welcomed such a range of entertainers, celebrities, sports stars and politicians down the decades. So it was nice to sign off from the BBC's iconic west London building, ahead of the relocation to Salford, with a chance encounter.

Frank Keogh, BBC sports journalist, with a BAFTA won by his department

Frank with the Bafta won by sport's Formula One TV team.

As we headed down from our Sport department on the fifth floor, the lift stopped at level three and in walked comic Matt Lucas. The last celeb I'd been in a lift with was Bruce Forsyth. "Higher or lower," I'd joked and the gag brought a chuckle, and even a surprise handshake, when retold to Lucas.

His good wishes were a nice touch as we prepared to move from one part of little Britain to another. It's 195 miles from Wood Lane to Manchester, and while the new workplace home of Salford Quays does not have the Television Centre tradition, it does have something different.

There are no bins at your desks, quirky meeting places apparently called 'thought wheels' and a place to make tea and coffee known as a 'refresh area.'

At a social session to welcome new movers, the boss of BBC North, Peter Salmon, showed off a Bafta won by sport's Formula One TV team. "This is given for great content and this will be a place to make great content," he said to a heartwarming cheer.

An appearance at our Quay House building by Brucie's Strictly partner Tess Daly, who was filming a promotional video, added a touch of excitement. The waterside location, open plan design, colourful meeting areas, even the view of Old Trafford bring a feeling of change to this place.

Then there are the accents. Suddenly as a Southerner who has never lived further north than Northampton, you are in a minority. Two people I have never met before immediately guessed which football team I support (West Ham) by the way I talked.

And you sense football, and sport in general, will be a common verbal currency in the new location. Both Manchester City (FA Cup) and Manchester United (Premier League) held open-top bus tours through the city within a week although after their Champions League defeat to Barcelona, there was an irony in the sign which said: "Man Utd victory parade - delays expected."

Of course, there are negatives to a big move. The sense of upheaval, almost loss, at the change. Those with children, leaving friends behind, will perhaps feel it most keenly.

And one suspects the people who will find the switch particularly hard are the partners. While I am busily bantering away at work with colleagues old and new, my wife is in a new town where she knows no-one.

In a lower moment, she posted a homesick Facebook status update where she talked about going home. There was plenty of empathy from the excellent group set up by two partners of Sport staff who have already moved and don't work for the BBC.

It probably didn't help that we have been without home broadband for a fortnight, and the radio silence meant the post was left hanging in the air. But it was with a small sense of progress that she was able to update - albeit a week later - in a chipper mood.

However difficult it might seem, there is usually someone having a tougher time. On my first working day in Manchester, in a city centre coffee shop, I saw a discarded pregnancy test in the unisex toilets.

Later in the week, a distraught cabbie told me about how a friend had written off his beloved sports boat. He plans to buy a new one and as the year progresses, it will be time to sink or swim for all of us.

Frank Keogh is a Senior Broadcast Journalist at BBC Sport

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