BBC staff must remember to take ironing boards to Media City
Recently, I visited Media City, up north, and took a tour around the new working environment of hundreds of BBC staff. On first impression, Media City is like something out of a JG Ballard novel: eerie, shiny, futuristic-looking buildings edged along the Manchester ship canal but there was no people around In design, Media City is a bit like Berlin.
Berlin minus the Reichstag and its other historical structures, mind you, which is kind of my point. Now I am all for decentralising more BBC TV and radio brands out of London, as the BBC is a national institution and not the preserve of a supposed cultured London elite.
For too long the impression of the BBC- from those on the outside- is it is a cliquey institution mainly peopled by upper class, self-worthy bods within the M25. Cliquey they may be, but the economic realities of a move up north have revealed their love of BBC only goes so far- only half, around 700, of those asked are buying a ticket to reside up north. External applicants have filled the vacant posts. But walking around Media City I kind of felt a bit of sympathy for those relocating. Quite simply, Media City is a new cold build city, bereft of history, vibe and atmosphere. As far as I could see there are no pubs, newsagents, curry houses, fish and chips shops, laundrettes, banks, in the immediate area. OK, this will change over time, as more non-media businesses move up there. But this is not going to happen overnight, and until it does those working in Media City are gong to have schlep it to Manchester or, should they be so bold, Salford, to get their shirt ironed and other necessities. Outside of it magnificent buildings catering for business, all I could see was a Pizza Express, a retail building specialising in cast-offs, and the promise of a Booths supermarket. Fair play to those making the move up north, I just hope they take a good ironing board with them.