Northern locations to get greater exposure
As a son of the North, I've always thought the most stirring clause in the BBC Charter is the promise to reflect the nation back to itself. That doesn't mean people living in London patronising regional viewers with programmes about flat capped Northerners with whippets or Welshmen who sing in choirs. It means recognising that 'the audience' is a set of different communities who often come together in shared tastes and enthusiasms, but at the same time may have different needs and different cultural identities. And now, with the opening next year of MediaCity at Salford Quays, the BBC will really be putting its money where its mouth is. What will come out of that mouth is a distinctive new Northern voice for the Corporation.
We are in a process of unprecedented editorial devolution, the BBC aims to shift half of all its network production out of London by 2016. In the biggest single move in its history, no less than five departments Sport, Children's, Learning, Radio Five Live, and parts of Future Media and Technology - will transfer from London to Greater Manchester. An enormous range of television, radio and online content, including some of our most loved shows like Match of The Day and Blue Peter, will be made in the North.
Where you place your feet affects the way you see things and the stories you tell. I want people all over the UK to be able to turn on their television or radio, and hear northern voices: not only in the sense of familiar vowel sounds, but also in that they describe the world in a way that is familiar and authentic. They want to see their hills, their valleys, their towns and their coastline celebrated. We need to be better at representing people's lives on screen, so our new base in Salford will be a filter, not a fortress, ensuring the benefits flow right across the North, to include great creative cities like Newcastle, Leeds, and Liverpool.
So in the next series of our biggest children's drama Tracy Beaker Returns, now made in the North East, there'll be more of Tyneside on screen, and even an episode set on an outdoor activities course in the glorious Northumbrian countryside. Producers aim to make the show associated to Newcastle in the way Torchwood and Doctor Who have become with Cardiff. Off screen the show is also engaging with young people, working with schools in Darlington on a project to boost media skills, and will take part in an event for secondary school students from across the North East at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle on 2nd July.
Peter Salmon is Director of BBC North