Examination of Witnesses (Questions 483
TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2005
Ms Susan Woodward, Ms Alice Morrison, Mr Andrew Critchley
and Mr Mike Spencer
Welcome and thank you very much for coming. I think you may have
heard a bit of the previous evidence but basically we are in the
second part of our study. We have already produced, as you may
know, a first report but there were a number of areas which we
did not have time to go into in detail and one of those is what
I put under the generic title of regional broadcasting, although
it goes rather deeper than that. Before we start, perhaps you
could in a couple of sentences introduce yourselves. Shall we
start from Mr Spencer and move down the table.
Mr Spencer: I am Mike Spencer, the Managing
Director of an independent production company based up in Manchester.
I have been in broadcasting 20 years of which 18 have been spent
in Manchester both at Granada, the BBC and in the independent
Ms Morrison: I am Alice Morrison, Chief Executive
of North West Vision, which is a public agency whose role is to
stimulate the TV, film and moving image economy in the North West.
Sorry to interrupt, so you do not make, you do not produce; you
Ms Morrison: We do not produce but what we do
do is, for example, we put funding into high-growth companies
and we help them with production, development and so on.
Ms Woodward: I am Susan Woodward, I am the Managing
Director of ITV Granada; I am a Non-Executive Director of the
Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company; and I am the Creative
Director and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company. My
job is to drive the business for Granada in the North West and
to make sure the environment is such that we can make high-quality
productions at low cost or at a cost beneficial to the company's
Good, so we have a voice from a Liverpool as well as from Manchester
Ms Woodward: Yes.
Mr Critchley: I am Andrew Critchley, the Managing
Director of the Red Production Company. We are a drama producer
based at Granada, we have made drama in the region for the past
seven years, starting with Queer as Folk through to, more
recently, Casanova. I am also Pact's North West representative.
Okay, thank you very much. Can I just then start with a fairly
general question. What is your assessment of how much television
and radio (because we are looking at that as well) production
goes on in Manchester and the breakdown between the BBC and other
broadcasters in the independent sector? What is your view of that?
Ms Woodward: About 10 per cent of the UK's entire
television production is made in Manchester. Of that Granada itself
makes around about a minimum of 1,000 hours a year and that is
made internally inside Granada Television and commissioned by
Granada Television externally. Alice can give you some figures.
Ms Morrison: In the most recent Ofcom report
it is published that, for example, London gets £1.476 billion
worth of production every year and Manchester is the next biggest
centre with £210 million. That is across the genres. We are
the biggest centre outside London but compared to London we are
still very small.
Ms Woodward: In addition to that ITV is committed
to making 50 per cent of its network production for ITV One outside
of London. As you may be aware, Ofcom have committed that as a
quota going forward from January 2006. We have already hit that
ceiling and are very happy to continue.
How do you compare with the other regional centres; Birmingham
for example, where would that come in the league?
Ms Woodward: ITV Granada is the biggest production
centre outside of London and it dwarfs anybody else in the UK.
Ms Morrison: As Sue said, it is 10 or 11 per
cent of all the network programmes made at the moment in the North
West. Within that we are talking about the North West as Liverpool
as well as Manchester right through. The next biggest centre regionally
is Yorkshire which has four per cent, so you can already see the
So this is the natural media centre as far as the North West is
Ms Morrison: Yes. We would say so because there
is a sustainable infrastructure here already and there is a long
history of production, as you will know from your screens, so
there is potential for growth. What it needs now is that kick
start into what could be phenomenal growth right across the industries.
I think we are looking at the sunrise industries as well as traditional
And have you any estimate of how many people are employed in the
Ms Morrison: In TV it is very difficult. Five
per cent of the entire population of the North West is employed
in the creative industries, according to the latest report from
the Cultural Consortium. I would be reluctant to break that down.
Ms Woodward: Granada's current population is
1,200 people and it has been like that now for probably about
How does that compare with, say, the BBC?
Ms Woodward: The BBC here is around 700 to 800
people in Manchester.
But those 1,200 would be permanent staff, would they?
Ms Woodward: Yes, although because of the nature
of our industry an awful lot of our staff are called freelancers,
who are people on fixed term contracts although we classify them
as staff anyway. We consider all those 1,200 as staff members.
What about you, Mr Critchley, how many would you employ and how
would you organise yourselves?
Mr Critchley: We are a lot different because
obviously it is a much smaller concern but we have a core staff
of nine and on occasion in the past seven years we have had three
or four productions running simultaneously, on average perhaps
about 70 per production between cast and crew, so the payroll
does fluctuate between nine and 350.
Chairman: That is quite a range.
Q494 Lord Peston:
Could you define what you mean by "staff". Does that
nine include your secretaries and all of that?
Mr Critchley: Yes.
Q495 Lord Peston:
How many creative staff are in the nine? Without insulting the
secretaries, nine seems so small to me, I would need that just
to run a shop. You must be incredibly efficient?
Mr Critchley: Yes. For the most part there is
one PA assistant, there is me, a finance person, the chief executive
of the company, who is the key creative part of it, and the rest
are development staff.
So when you come to producing a programme or a series of programmes
you commission, do you?
Mr Critchley: A writer will come to us with
a script and we will pitch it to a broadcaster and they will hopefully
commission it. At that point we will crew up from a freelance
pool that we share with Mike and Sue.
And that freelance population there are enough people here, are
there, to sustain that?
Mr Critchley: We do not crew up exclusively
from the region. We find heads of department, the key creative
personnel from wherever. We choose them based on their track record.
For the most part, though, we try and crew up for the rest of
them within the region for economic reasons as well as logistical
Do you find the same, Mr Spencer?
Mr Spencer: Yes, Red Production do drama, we
do factual programmes and documentaries, so we are less labour
intensive, and we are able to draw 90 per cent of the staff we
needproducers, directors, researchersfrom the North
West. And we also sometimes share staff with the BBC. We have
had people on attachment from the BBC and vice versa.
How many do you employ essentially permanently full time?
Mr Spencer: Permanently there are six of us
in the United Kingdom, although we have got four people in Dublin,
and I think the highest workforce we have ever had is about 40,
and so in terms of freelance employees it will range between 10