Monday 20 May 2013
BBC One's award-winning school drama series Waterloo Road is to relocate its production base to Greenock in Inverclyde.
Shed Productions, who make the popular drama which is currently in its seventh series for BBC Scotland, have reached agreement with Inverclyde Council to lease the former Greenock Academy building to film in for the next two series. The move will see the former Greenock secondary become the new on-screen Waterloo Road school from next year.
In addition to using the former school classrooms on-screen, Shed will also use the rest of the Madiera Street premises as production base for the series.
Production is moving to Greenock from Rochdale as part of the BBC's move to increase network programming from Scotland and the other nations of the UK.
Set-up work by Shed is likely to start as early as next month before set design and construction kicks off in January in time for filming to begin in April next year.
Filming an initial 50 one-hour episodes over two years will provide a significant boost to the Scottish creative sector worth an estimated £20m, while up to 200 jobs are also likely to be created from the move.
A dramatic storyline will be played out at the end of this series (broadcasting on BBC One), which will see a number of current teachers and pupils setting up a new independent school in Scotland.
The drama will be executive produced by Shed Productions Head of Drama Cameron Roach and Gaynor Holmes for the BBC.
Set up by Eileen Gallagher, Brian Park, Maureen Chadwick and former secondary teacher Ann McManus in 1998, Shed Productions have been responsible for a number of high-profile dramas including Footballers' Wives and Bad Girls. In 2008 they established an office in Glasgow's Media Quarter, where last year they launched the online spin-off, Waterloo Road Reunited, which followed the post-school lives of some of the show's regular characters.
Waterloo Road is part of BBC Scotland's thriving drama department, which recently made Case Histories and Garrow's Law for BBC One and currently has a second series of Lip Service due for transmission for BBC Three. A new series based on vet James Herriot's student days, Young Herriot, will transmit in the next few months. The department's in-house team are also responsible for BBC Scotland's popular weekly soap, River City, which films across the Clyde in Dumbarton.
Talking about the move, Shed's CEO Eileen Gallagher says: "Waterloo Road has had an incredibly happy six years in Rochdale working with one of the best TV crews in the country. But now we have outgrown our present site and we couldn't resist the BBC offer to take the show to Scotland.
"The former Greenock Academy school will make a great Waterloo Road and the stunning scenery in and around Greenock will be a fantastic asset right on our doorstep. We're really looking forward to coming to Greenock and already we've had a terrific welcome."
BBC Scotland's Executive Producer Gaynor Holmes also welcomed the move: "BBC Scotland and Shed have worked brilliantly together on making Waterloo Road the award-winning drama that it is, so it feels right that we're now bringing it to Scotland.
"We also know Greenock well, having filmed there for River City in the past, so we know we'll get a warm welcome when we set up home and we're all very excited about the move," she said.
Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: "I am delighted the former Greenock Academy site has been chosen as the new location for Waterloo Road. Shed Production's decision to relocate to Inverclyde is an important boost for the area promising jobs and business opportunities for local companies.
"We have been working hard for the past four years to invest in our schools, leisure facilities and town centres to transform Inverclyde into a place to work, live and relax and Waterloo Road's relocation reflects how far we have come and what we have achieved."
Linda McPherson, creative industries director at Scottish Enterprise, said: "We have been working closely with Shed Media to support the relocation of Waterloo Road to Scotland and are pleased to have helped identify the right filming location for the series. It is an exciting time for the creative industries in Scotland and we look forward to continuing to build on our reputation as a great location for production companies to locate."