What do Ashford, Doncaster, Reading, Liverpool and Hartlepool have in common?
These places together with Shepperton, Dagenham, the Port of Leith, Elstree and others will soon be hosting shiny new production studios.
The billions of pounds that overseas companies are pumping into our creative industries is evidence that Britain is truly world-leading in making films, TV shows, advertising, and everything in between. It is not an overstatement to say that once all these studios are built the UK will be a genuine rival to Hollywood. Over the coming years, it seems more and more of the major global players will anchor their production hubs in cities like Liverpool and Bristol. LA might have the sunshine, but the stars will be drawn to Dagenham.
The past twelve months have been challenging economically, and the immediate past even more so. But despite Brexit and, hopefully, in spite of COVID-19, production in the UK will be capable of getting back up and running to make even more industry-leading post-Coronavirus content. Boy do we need it to stop the re-runs of Midsummer Murders.
In Guy Bisson’s session “Understanding the future of entertainment” a few weeks ago on MIPTV’s digital platform he spoke about crime series being the most commissioned type of content. In the unscripted genre I anticipate the first reality shows will be of the Love in Lockdown ilk. Whilst others will mimic the Child of Our Time format for those conceived during COVID-19. You can see the names now – Quarantots for when they are kids and Quaranteens for when they hit adolescence. You heard it here first.
Whatever the show, the UK production industry will continue to make world class programmes with international appeal.
There is one big elephant in the room though. The lifeblood of this industry is the independent producers and the freelancers who make up the staff. With production on hold, they have major cashflow problems which could lead to some of the very best talent leaving to find alternative employment and financial security. Given the revenue our creative industries generate, and given the appeal the UK has for overseas investors the British Government needs to step in and do more to help those struggling. It cannot rely on the broadcasters and the market to do all the work. It needs to be investing more in helping the country’s wealth of talent, supporting those who have attracted the billions in international investment. It needs to give these people reliable compensation packages throughout the pandemic. It is an investment that will provide huge returns.