A lot can happen in a year!

One year on from the Channel 4 National HQ announcement

Channel 4 have now formally arrived in the region, marking the moment by opening the Westgate office, and last week unveiling a new campaign across the Majestic building hoardings, which will be home to the National HQ once refurbished.

The new National HQ will accommodate staff from a range of different departments, including the Managing Director, Nations & Regions, programme commissioners, the new Digital Creative Unit, producing and commissioning content to reach audiences on digital and social platforms, and staff across a variety of creative, digital, operational and supporting functions. 

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) and NP11 said:

“We have been working with Channel 4 and the 4AlltheUK strategy for a number of years now and I’m delighted that Channel 4 are officially here and expanding their presence in the region.

“Since the announcement of the National HQ location last October, the region’s creative industries have experienced significant growth. This sets the tone for what is to come in future months and years.

“The LEP has an increased role in supporting growth within the sector, through the launch of our #Grow scheme and enabling clear pathways for talent to maintain and grow the sector and underline the region’s position as a hotbed for creativity.”

Alex Mahon, Chief Executive of Channel 4 said:

“We are really at the start a new era for Channel 4, as we mark the launch of our National HQ here in Leeds. An era in which we will be rooted in and better connected to the lives of the communities that make up the UK.

“Channel 4 as an organisation will unearth more of the stories that define modern Britain. That will not just look and feel different but will think and behave differently. One that will reflect the whole of the UK and by doing so, become more creative, innovative, distinctive and relevant for the UK than at any point in our history.”

Sinead Rocks, Channel 4’s Managing Director, Nations & Regions said:

“This is a really exciting moment for everyone at Channel 4 but particularly for all the staff at our National HQ in Leeds where there’s a real buzz of enthusiasm and anticipation.

“The opening of our National HQ marks the start of something very special as it’ll give Channel 4 the opportunity to work more closely with regional organisations, businesses and indies and seek out new, untapped talent.”

It certainly is an exciting new phase for Leeds City Region, with Channel 4 already acting as the spark for a number of expansions and investments.

Indie growth has been substantial;

  • True North have expanded their post-production facilities with support from the LEP
  • True Vision Yorkshire received investment from Channel 4 as part of the ‘C4 Indie Growth Fund’
  • Daisybeck Studios were bought by Canadian production giant Entertainment One (eOne)
  • New start-ups Hell Fire! and Wise Owl films have established themselves and the region has also seen significant inward investment from two of the largest Indies
  • Workerbee (previously Endemol Shine North) and The Garden, both opened bases in Leeds at the start of the year.

The wider sector ecosystem now has Leeds City Region firmly on its radar. The National Film and Television School (NFTS), BFI – Young Audiences and Content Fund and Pact (Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television) all now have bases here.

Diversity is proving to be high on everyone’s agendas, as Channel 5 have invested in two BAME led indies in the region: Meridian Line Films, an award-winning TV production company based in York as well as Heenan Bhatti, who is now running his own indie, after directing a number of award-winning documentaries.

Beyond Brontës was launched in April this year. Aimed at young people from diverse backgrounds to address under representation within the screen industries. Engagement with the programme has been high and the first group of 50 trainees have been recruited from across the region and attended an industry bootcamp. The team at Screen Yorkshire are now organising a variety of work experience placements and training courses to equip participants with crucial skills to help them start out in the industry.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council:

“Bradford is a youthful, global city with people and connections to all corners of the world.  We’re delighted that a broadcaster like Channel 4 has seen the value of our city and cited us in their decision-making to locate in Leeds City Region. We have a great relationship with C4 and look forward to building on this in the future.”

Innovation has also been an area of focus since the announcement; Sky Studios recently announced an Innovation Hub is set to open at Leeds Dock, as well as DAZN unveiling plans to launch a virtual production facility in its Leeds’ broadcast centre.

It’s not just  innovation and ideas that are being accelerated though, its bricks and mortar too.

Infrastructure plans include a major new TV Studio in Leeds City Centre taking on the former Polestar Petty print works, the grade II Engine House development part of Tower Works at the South Bank is set to be a new production hub and of course the Majestic refurbishment, that will be the new home for Channel 4 National HQ later next year.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“The announcement that Channel 4 will be joining us in Leeds has acted as a huge catalyst for growth in our film, TV and creative sectors over the past year as well as creating an unprecedented buzz about what the future holds for everyone involved in those industries.

“With demand for more studio space in the city already high, it’s also meant that we’ve been able to further support some incredibly imaginative and forward-thinking plans which will see places like the Polestar Petty printworks and Engine House become state-of-the-art facilities, creating a number of new jobs, bringing further investment to the city and helping those sectors to flourish.

“This an exciting time to be in Leeds and to be part of making that shared vision of our city as a hub for creativity and innovation a reality.”

For details of how the LEP can help your business to #Grow, contact the Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 or visit the-lep.com/Grow