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Keep BBC's Doctors in Birmingham

Doctors location shoot

14 July 2008

BECTU is leading a campaign to keep BBC daytime series, Doctors, in production at its Birmingham site.

The campaign has been provoked by the BBC’s Network Supply Review.

The Review’s purpose is to examine “many programmes with a view to boosting expertise and output in the Nations and Regions and to continue the process of developing centres of excellence right across the UK in line with the Ofcom requirement.”

Whilst BECTU supports the BBC’s desire to locate more network production out of London, the union is very clear that “robbing Peter to pay Paul” by simply relocating existing out of London production to other locations will do damage on many levels.

The BBC has yet to confirm how the Review will impact on existing out of London production.

Previously the show had been produced at the now closed Pebble Mill studios, the source of popular drama series and daytime output for 32 years.

However there are rumours that Doctors could be forced to leave its Drama Village base at Birmingham University, home to the award-winning series for more than three years.

“This latest uncertainty has had a demoralising effect.”

Several Midlands MPs, including Jim Cunningham, Coventry South, and Clare Short have backed the campaign to keep quality broadcasting jobs in the region.

Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has written to the Chair of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, to highlight the importance of retaining, indeed expanding, BBC production in the region.

Setting out the case to keep Doctors in Birmingham, National Offical, Lynne Korniak, has drawn attention to the importance of the production to the local economy given the expenditure on locations and facilities.

The employment of production crew and cast is also important to the economy and is a key factor in the ability of the Midlands to retain a skilled television production workforce.

“The prospect of moving Doctors out of the Midlands clearly concerns the large number of local crew involved in the production, many of whom are freelance workers and live across the Midlands region” explained Lynne Korniak.

“These are highly skilled industry workers who have watched jobs disappear from the region and this latest uncertainty has had a demoralising effect” she continued.

Fellow National Official, Anna Murray, will join Lynne Korniak at a meeting with John Yorke, BBC Controller, Drama Production Series, on 5 August to discuss staff concerns about the BBC’s approach to out of London production.

This is the second BECTU campaign to be provoked by the BBC’s Network Supply Review; the fight to keep Doctors in Birmingham joins a similar effort by union members to keep Casualty in Bristol. The rumours in the South West are that the BBC is considering the relocation of Casualty to Cardiff.