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Corporation shake-up

Scotland may get new soap as BBC relocates operations

BBC Scotland

Some staff will relocate to Glasgow

The BBC is moving some of its departments and staff out of London to spread its operations and output across the UK.

Technology staff will move to Glasgow while the corporation will base one of two new soap-style network dramas in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The other will be set in northern England.

The project, described as the BBC’s biggest transformation in decades, will see various departments relocate to Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Glasgow and Salford.

The BBC’s 22,000 employees, many of whom are currently working from home, were briefed on the plans on Thursday.

Director general Tim Davie said: “Our mission must be to deliver for the whole of the UK and ensure every household gets value from the BBC.

“These plans will get us closer to audiences, create jobs and investment, and develop and nurture new talent.

“Taken together, our proposals mean the BBC will cumulatively spend at least an extra £700m outside London by 2027/28.”

Changes to the corporation will include:

  • News and current affairs programmes like BBC Two’s Newsnight being presented from different UK bases through the year.
  • Radio 4’s flagship Today programme to be co-presented from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year.
  • Key daytime strands on Radio 1, 1Xtra and Radio 2 will be moved from London and made across the UK.
  • Radio 3 will be rooted in Salford, along with the majority of 6 Music.
  • Radio 1’s Newsbeat team will relocate to Birmingham, which will also be the base for the Asian Network.
  • BBC News’s Climate and Science team will move to Cardiff, while the Technology team will shift to Glasgow. The Learning and Identity News team will go to Leeds.
  • A new generation of 100 new reporters to be based in towns and areas that have never had a regional TV presence.
  • The BBC Concert Orchestra and some Proms to leave London, plus a music events calendar more rooted across the UK.

Plans set out in detail in the BBC’s 13-page Across the UK document include:

  • A commitment to commission and produce “a clear majority” of TV programmes across the UK and not in London.
  • A commitment to locate 50% of the money spent on network radio and music outside London by 2028.
  • The moving of major parts of BBC News to locations across the UK.
  • More investment in BBC local reporting and apprenticeships.
  • An upgrade of the BBC’s Belfast headquarters.

Broadcasting trade union Bectu said it was “good to see the BBC wanting to build on its strong local offering and prioritise getting closer to communities”.

But its “immediate concern” was how the plans would affect is members, adding “the devil will be in the detail”.

It said it would examine the proposals closely to ensure “workers are properly supported through these changes and that the need for redundancies is minimised”.

The new drama series will see the BBC challenge ITV’s Coronation Street and Emmerdale, produced in Manchester and Leeds respectively.

The BBC’s current flagship soap EastEnders is filmed at Elstree in north London, with the set undergoing a £87 million revamp that is set to be completed in 2023. 

The channel’s weekly programmes Casualty and Holby City are recorded in Cardiff and Elstree respectively.

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